Kitchen Blog | Mince Pies
This week we have been busy making mince pies ready for our staff Christmas lunch, but before we share the recipe here are a few facts about our favourite festive treat…
Mince pies were originally filled with meat, rather than the spices and dried fruit mix we have today and were oval shaped to represent the manger slept in by the baby Jesus. The tops of the pies would sometimes be decorated with a small pastry baby Jesus.
During the Stuart and Georgian period, the rich liked to show off their wealth by having their best pastry cooks create Christmas mince pies of different designs such as stars, crescent moons or even flowers.
Moving into the 17th & 18th century when sugar became cheaper and much easier to acquire a sweeter version of the mince pie increased in popularity and by the Victorian era it had become a firm favourite.
75g chopped mixed peel
3 tbsp brandy
125g dark brown sugar
1 tsp ground mixed spice
1 vanilla pod, with seeds removed
1 orange, juiced and zest
1 lemon, juiced and zest
1 Bramley apple, peeled, grated, core removed
350g plain flour
150g unsalted butter, cubed
50g icing sugar
1 orange, zest only
2 egg yolks
Alternatively, you can also buy excellent ready-made pastry and mincemeat from your local supermarket.
Thoroughly mix all of the ingredients together in a large bowl. Cover with cling film and leave for 24 hours.
Preheat the oven to 160/180c.
Sift the flour into a bowl and add the butter, icing sugar and orange zest and gently mix with your hands until the mixture bears a likeness to breadcrumbs.
Mix in the egg yolks and add 2-3 tbsp of water to help bind it together.
Gently squash the mixture together until you have a ball of pastry.
Flatten the mixture, wrap in cling film and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Grease your tin.
Unwrap the pastry and roll out onto a lightly floured surface until the pastry has the thickness of a one-pound coin.
Now cut out discs of pastry with a cutter slightly bigger than the size of the tin holes. Press a round of pastry into the bottom of each hole. Fill each pastry case with roughly a walnut sized amount of mincemeat and then cut a further 12 smaller rounds or shapes, such as stars or crescent moons, for the pie lids (make sure to use as much of the pastry as possible to avoid waste).
Brush the lids with beaten egg.
Bake the mince pies for 15/20 minutes, or until a light golden-brown in colour.
Transfer to a wire rack to cool, sprinkle with icing sugar and serve.
A custom from the middle ages says that if you eat a mince pie every day from Christmas to the Twelfth Night you will find happiness for the 12 months that follow!