Mince Pies

Something to leave out for Santa alongside the brandy. Although Santa in our house prefers a nice sloe gin…..

I made these using the mincemeat from here (one of my jars provided enough filling for 8 good-sized pies). The pastry stars on top are unapologetically wonky; I think it adds a reassuringly homemade quality. I’ve been very restrained with my sprinkling of icing sugar here, unusually so, and I’m not even sure it contains glitter…and I regret it already.

I’ll do better on the next batch, promise.

The pastry here is great as it’s not sweet, I think with the richness of the mincemeat a sweet pastry can be a bit too much. The pastry is adapted from a Nigella recipe, and I’ve followed her lead by topping the pies with stars, rather than a full lid. It means the mincemeat below catches a little as they bake and you get good crispy edges.

Serve these mince pies with brandy butter or cream. For a left field but equally delicious approach top with a slice of Stilton and warm gently so the cheese starts to melt. Seriously, it’s a winner.

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Makes between 24 medium pies or 36 small pies, depending on the size of your tray

You will need a muffin or tart tray, a fluted, round biscuit cutter bigger in diameter than the moulds of your tray, and a star-shaped biscuit cutter.

  • 240g plain flour
  • 60g vegetable shortening (such as Trex)
  • 60g cold butter, diced into small cubes
  • Juice of 1 orange (approx. 100ml if using orange juice)
  • Pinch of salt
  • Mincemeat (a 250ml full jar makes around 8 medium pies)
  • GLITTERY icing sugar for dusting

Measure the flour into a shallow dish and add small mounds of the shortening dotted over the flour (use a teaspoon) and the diced butter. Toss in the flour to cover and put the dish in the freezer for 20 minutes to ensure the fats are really cold. This will help make the pastry extra flaky later on.

Mix together the orange juice and salt and chill in the fridge.

After 20 minutes add the flour and fat mixture to the bowl of a food processor (you can use an electric mixture with the paddle attachment alternatively) and pulse until you have a crumb-like mixture. Add the salted orange juice gradually down the funnel while pulsing until the pastry just starts to come together (stop just before it does if possible), you may not need to use all the juice. If you need more liquid then add cold water. Nigella mentions the mixer often requires more liquid than the food processor in her notes.

Turn the mixture out onto your work surface and bring together as a dough. You may need a sprinkling of flour if your mixture is too wet. Split the pastry into 3, wrap in clingfilm and leave to chill in the fridge for at least 20 minutes (I used 1/3 of the pastry and froze the rest wrapped in clingfilm. To use it will need defrosting overnight and kneading a little before rolling out and using as below). Preheat your oven to 220°C/200°C fan/425°F.

Roll out the pastry one batch at a time, no thicker than a pound coin. For each pie cut out a fluted circle and a star for the top. Press the circles gently into the moulds and fill with mincemeat. Add the star top, lightly pressing onto the mincemeat.

Bake for 10-15 minutes; keep an eye on them and remove when the pastry is lightly golden.

Leave to cool on a wire rack and roll out the rest of the pastry if using right away. Dust the top of the pies with icing sugar when they are cooled.

 

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