I have to say I am quite partial to a mince pie (or two). In fact they are a firm favourite all round in our house and we can easily get through several boxes a week during the Christmas period. I do make a point of not buying mince pies in October when they first seem to appear in the supermarkets. Early December is time enough!
The only trouble with shop bought mince pies is that you are never really sure how good they are going to be. I find there is usually too much pastry and only the tiniest dot of mince pie filling in a giant cavity. So, this year I have been making batches of my own. I have made everything from the filling for the mince pies to the pastry so if they are no good I can tweak them as I go along.
Try, Try and Try Again
I have attempted this before but usually I run out of time and I end up with all the raw ingredients and no finished product,or the mince pies filling and no pastry to fill. This year has been different though. My blog has really helped me get more focused and I have been completing more and more of my goals.
Before I begin I must apologise for the lack of photography but my phone has died. Stupidly I hadn’t the phone connected to anything such as iCloud or OneDrive so until I get it fixed the photography will unfortunately be limited. Lesson learnt on taking regular backups though!
Making the filling for the mince pies is probably the most time consuming bit so if you are struggling for time you could always buy a jar or two of the pre-prepared stuff. If you are making your own you will need 4 clean and sterilised jam jars, about 370g each.
Sterilise Your Jars
I wasn’t sure on the best way to sterilise jars so I had a look on Google and used a combination of methods. Firstly I gave the jars a good clean in some very hot, soapy water and rinsed. I then let them drain slightly before putting on a baking tray (the right way up) and placing in and pre-heated oven 180C for 10-15 minutes. I put the lids in too but if the lids have a rubber seal it is best to place them in a pan of boiling water for the same amount of time. Your jars are now sterilised and ready to go. I did this step after I had made the filling for the mince pies.
For the mince pie filling you will need:
175g Dried Cranberries
100g Mixed Peel
1 Small Cooking Apple – peeled, cored and finely diced (I used a couple of apples off a neighbour’s tree, they are more like eating apples)
125g Butter (cubed)
50g Whole Blanched Almonds – roughly chopped
225g Light Muscavado Sugar
½tsp Ground Cinamon
1 tsp Mixed Spice
1 Lemon – finely grated rind and juice
200ml Festive tipple (I used brandy but you could use rum or sherry. If you wish to stay alcohol free you could use some orange juice)
Into a large saucepan place all your measured ingredients, except for the festive tipple! Turn on the heat low and allow the butter to melt stirring occasionally. Bring to a simmer and simmer for about 10 minutes. It smells wonderful, very Christmassy and takes on a really glossy shine. Turn off the heat and allow the mixture to cool completely before stirring in your festive tipple. The finished mixture can now be spooned into your sterilised jars.
If you are really organised you can prepare this up to 6 months in advance and store in a cool place. I don’t think I will ever be that organised.
For the mince pie pastry you will need:
175g Plain Flour
75g Butter (cubed)
25g Icing Sugar
1 Egg (beaten)
1 Orange – Finely grated rind only (If you don’t have an orange don’t worry, I have forgotten to add it at times and the pies were still yummy.)
I used a food processor for this but if you don’t have one you could do it by hand or buy some ready made pastry. Place the flour, icing sugar (I sieved mine), butter and orange rind in the food processor and blitz until it resembles fine bread crumbs. Pour in the beaten egg and pulse until the mixture comes together to form a ball.
At this point I put my pastry in the fridge for 20 minutes as I found the dough too soft and sticky to roll out, even on a floured surface.
Flour your surface and rolling pin and roll out the chilled dough thinly turning regularly to make sure it doesn’t stick. Take a round fluted cutter (7.5cm) and cut out 18 rounds, use these to line a lightly greased 12 hole bun tin. There will be enough pastry to make 18 mince pies so if you have two tins you won’t have to bake in batches.
Assemble Your Mince Pies
Now place a generous teaspoon of mince pie filling into each pastry case. Recombine the pastry trimmings and roll out again. You will now need a smaller star shape cutter (4.5cm), or in my case a heart shape as I couldn’t find a small star, to put on the top of the filling. Brush with some beaten egg or milk and place in a pre-heated oven at 180C fan/Gas Mark 6 for 12-15 minutes or until golden and crisp. Remove from the oven and when the pies have cooled dust with some icing sugar. Enjoy!
Let me know how your mince pies turn out!