OK an admission here...I've never had a mince pie...I've always seen them as things I knew I just didn't like so would never try (yes I am actually seven years old!), but we were in a pub the other week and one came with a coffee..so I thought..you know what? I'm going to try one. And I loved it, I can't believe I didn't think I would considering it's packed full of Christmas spices which I adore and pastry! Seriously...what have I been thinking all these years, I am now converted.
So I thought, right, perfect, that will be one of my festive bakes. I love it when you see them topped with a pastry star or some other pretty shape rather than topped completely with the pastry. I bought some really cute snowflake cutters from John Lewis, I've been looking for some for ages that had to right spikey look as most are too plain looking, I thought topped with these they would look a bit different to most and just be a bit more special.
I really wanted mine to be deep-filled, so I whacked great big dollops of mincemeat in there, not thinking about the fact that when it cooks it bubbles up and spills over everywhere...luckily I only lost a couple to this...they became the 'testers'....you know, to make sure they weren't poisonous of course!
I did think about making my own mincemeat, but everyone who's made it said it just isn't worth the effort if you buy a decent enough brand so I though I would cheat and get it from Tesco and I have to say I was really impressed and don't see myself tying to make my own for a while.
I do have to say I was pretty proud of my pastry, even since watching The Great British Bake Off I've become obsessed with the science of pastry making, over-working it, under-working it, making sure it's short enough, thin enough arrgh! But I have to say Mary Berry would have been pleased with mine :). I love that it had an almond pastry as it made it super crumbly.
Right time for the recipe
- 225g plain flour
- a pinch of salt
- 50g ground almonds
- 85g icing sugar
- 175g unsalted butter, diced
- 1 medium egg yolk
- 400g luxury mincemeat
- 1 tbsp brandy, rum or Amaretto
- icing sugar or caster sugar for sprinkling
- To make the pastry, put the flour, salt, ground almonds and icing sugar in a bowl and mix until all incorporated.
- Then add the diced butter and rub in until it resembles fine breadcrumbs, you can do all of this in a food processor but I love making pastry by hand. Add the egg yolk and mix it until it comes together in a soft but not sticky ball. If you need to you can add a teaspoon of water to pick up any remaining dry ingredients.
- Wrap in clingfilm and chill for 15 minutes until firm but not rock solid.
- Heat the oven to 180 degrees/350 F/gas mark 4, roll out pastry onto a floured work surface to about 4mm. Cut out 12 rounds using a cutter slightly larger than holes in a muffin tray. I did mine in foil cases so did them a little larger than the case. You also need to make sure you cut out the same amount of snowflakes or you'll get to the end and realise you don't have any toppers!
- Press the rounds into the cases and push the pastry all into the sides to get all over the air bubbles. Stir the mincemeat and add the alcohol, spoon 1 1/2 tsp of the mixture into the pastry and lay a snowflake onto the surface of each pie.
- Bake for 20 - 25 minutes or until firm and just golden. Richer pastry tends to brown quicker so do keep an eye on them. Leave to cool for a few minutes before sliding them out of the trays, don't cool them for too long though as they're gorgeous when eaten warm! Serve with dusted sugar and even a dollop of cream as there's always cream in the fridge of Christmas!
- Eat! Nom!