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Mince pies are everywhere at this time of year, but even so, homemade ones never fail to impress. This recipe originally hails from a Christmas cookery course my mother took before I was born. Naturally, the method and ingredients have been tweaked and edited a great deal over the last 30 years, so I’m claiming it as a Hughes family recipe.

What makes this recipe special is the pastry. It’s very light and crisp, not like the soft and soggy stuff you often find with shop-bought ones. They’re also a lot smaller than the average mince pie.

I hope you like them! If you do follow the recipe, send me a review on Twitter.

Equipment

Mince pie tin

The original recipe requires three 12 section bun tins. A bun tin is smaller and shallower than a muffin tin, although, you can still use a muffin tin, I just wouldn’t fill them all the way with pastry, otherwise your mince pies would be gargantuan. If in doubt, I have this bun tin from Lakeland. I just do three loads.

Mince pie cutter

Cutter-wise, for this bun tin, I use one that has the same diameter as a standard tin can. At this size, the recipe will yield 36 mince pies. If you use a different size cutter your mileage may vary. For the top you can use any small shaped cutters, tiny star ones like this are available everywhere.

Ingredients

  • 1lb, 454g or 3 & 1/3rd cups of plain flour
  • 2 & 1/2 tsp of mixed spice
  • 8oz, 250g, 1 cup or two American sticks of cold cubed butter
  • 3 tbsp of icing sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tbsp cold water
  • A 411g/14 oz jar of mincemeat
  • 6 glace cherries chopped into 1/8ths
  • 2 tbsp whisky or brandy (optional)
  • A small handful of flaked almonds (optional)
Traditional mince pie recipe

Method

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 190°C/375°F or gas mark 5.
  2. Sieve together the flour and mixed spice into a large mixing bowl (a massive one like this).
  3. Add the cubes of cold butter to the flour and start rubbing it together with your fingers until it resembles fine breadcrumbs. If you have a food processor you can throw in the butter and flour/spice mixture and pulse it to achieve the same effect.
  4. Shake the bowl and the larger lumps of remaining butter should rise to the top. Keep shaking the bowl and rubbing the lumps until it’s all even.
  5. Once everything is evenly combined, separate two eggs and add the yolks to the breadcrumb mixture, along with the sieved icing sugar and 2 tbsp of cold water. Reserve one of the egg whites for later.
  6. Use a wooden spoon to stir the mixture until it forms a lump of dough. Then use your hands to knead it to a soft but not sticky dough.
  7. Pop it in some clingfilm and leave it in the fridge to rest for 15 minutes.
  8. Empty out your mincemeat into a bowl and add the chopped glace cherries and brandy or whisky if you’re using it. Stir well.
  9. Remove the rested pastry from the fridge and roll it out on a floured surface to a 1/4 inch thickness. Use a fluted cutter to cut 36 rounds.
  10. Place the rounds in the tin and half fill them with your mincemeat mixture.
  11. You can then either top them with flaked almonds or cut out three stars for the top of each mince pie from the remaining pastry.
  12. Whisk the reserved egg white with a fork then use a pastry brush to glaze the tops of the mince pies.
  13. Put them in the oven for 18-20 minutes until golden brown, then leave them to rest on a wire rack until cool.
  14. Dust with icing sugar for extra wow-factor.

Money-saving tips

Mincemeat is not that expensive, and this recipe means that even the cheapest mincemeat can be tarted up to make a premium mince pie. However, supermarkets never sell their full stock at Christmas, so I often pick it up reduced in January. Usually, they have longer than a year left on the best before date too. This jar is still selling for £3.79 in Waitrose, but I got it for 29p. Bargain!

Want more recipes? Check out my one for Welsh cakes.

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