My Mince Pies

Everyone has their own way of doing these - different pastries, different fillings, different family traditions to be followed. I love making mince pies but I don't actually like eating them so I base my recipes on Joe's reaction and therefore have created a recipe that's a bit Delia, a bit Nigella and a bit stolen from my Tante Marie cookery course. I do love the idea of making mini ones with stars on top a la Nigella and everyone else but I just can't be bothered to fork out for a tin that at the moment I'm probably only going to use once a year. I'll add it to my Amazon wishlist and see how much it calls to me. So anyway I make big ones with stars on top (sometimes I make macaroon topping which is a nice change if you are a bit over pied). I also buy my mincemeat - maybe next year I'll make Nigella's cranberry one but what with the hamper this year I think I may be biting off more than I can chew.

MINCE PIES (makes about 24 normal size pies)

240g plain flour
60g vegetable shortening/suet, or lard
60g cold butter
juice of 1 orange (or a couple of satsumas if that's what you have)
pinch of salt

350g mincemeat

milk to stick the lids on
icing sugar to dust

You will need a bun tray or two and I use the trusty magimix to make the pastry because it's quick and I'm lazy. I use a crinkle edged cutter but a plain circle would do just as well if that's what you've got.

1. Put the flour, suet/shortening/lard and small cubes of very cold butter in the freezer for 20 mins. Not quite sure why, Nigella recommends it and it does help make a very nice pastry.

My tuppaware of flour and fat

2. Squeeze the orange juice into a bowl, add the pinch of salt and put in the fridge.

3. After the 20 mins put the flour and fats into the magimix and blitz until it's all crumbly. Then start adding the orange juice whilst pulsing the mixture, stopping just before it comes together. The amount of liquid you use really just depends on the size of the orange. Sometimes I use it all and have to add a bit of chilled water sometimes I don't use all of the juice. You have to do this by eye I'm afraid.

4. Anyway, when it looks like it's about to come together tip it out onto a floured surface and bring it together with your hands and knead it about a bit. Divide into two, make sort of flat discs out of them, cover in clingfilm and put in the fridge for half and hour. Pre-heat the oven to 220C/428F/Gas Mark 7.

5. When you are ready to make the pies roll one of the discs out of a floured surface. This is lovely pastry that's really stretchy so you can afford to roll it quite thin but remember you still need a good vehicle for the heavy mince meat. I usually cut out bottoms and tops at the same time - if I'm doing the star tops - so I know I've got even amounts.

Star mince pie tops
6. Place the cut circles in the bun tray and add a teaspoon on the mincemeat. I'm usually quite slapdash about this sort of thing but I actually think it's quite important to just smooth the mincemeat out a bit with the spoon. This makes the tops stay on better when the mincemeat gets all bubbly whilst cooking. Dab around the edge with some milk - I use my finger - and then place the star  on top pressing down on the ends slightly so the milk sticks them to the pie base (this will inevitably unstick during cooking).
Loaded mince pies

7. Cook for about 10 minutes - I check after 9 and take out when they look right to you.

8. You can make these up to a week ahead and just heat up for 2 mins in a hot oven before serving then sprinkle with a little icing sugar and serve with brandy butter.
Finished pies
They don't look that beautiful but they do look homemade!


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