20 December 2013
British Xmas
A mince pie, also known as minced pie, is a small British fruit-based mincemeat sweet pie traditionally served during the Christmas season. Its ingredients are traceable to the 13th century, when returning European crusaders brought with them Middle Eastern recipes containing meats, fruits and spices.


540g mincemeat
95 g lard
75 g butter or margarine
350 g)plain flour, plus extra for dusting
a little milk
pinch salt


First of all, weigh out the fats (which can be straight from the fridge), cut them into chunks and add them to the bowl of a processor. The flour should be sifted into a mixing bowl, then tipped in to join the fats. Add a little salt, then process until the mixture is crumbly and blended. 

Now add 3 tablespoons of water, process again, then remove the dough to the mixing bowl. 

Bring it all together with your hands, adding a few more drops of water to make a dough that leaves the bowl clean. If you don't have a processor, rub the fat, in small pieces, into the sifted flour and salt till it resembles fine breadcrumbs, then add the water to make a dough. Now pop it into a plastic bag to rest for 30 minutes in the fridge, which will make it easier to roll out. 

Preheat the oven to gas mark 6, 400°F, 200°C. 

After that, divide the dough in half on a well-floured surface. How many mince pies you actually get depends on how thinly you roll the pastry. So roll it out as thinly as possible, then use the large cutter to cut out rounds. Place the cutter on the pastry and give it a sharp tap - don't be tempted to twist at all. Now place the rounds in the patty tins, adding one rounded teaspoon of mincemeat to each one. 

Next, roll out the other half of pastry and repeat the exercise with the smaller cutter. Then dampen the edges with milk and press them lightly into position on top of the mincemeat to form lids, sealing the edges well. (You can chill the mince pies at this stage if you don't want to cook them straightaway.) Next, brush the pies with milk, make 3 snips in the top of each one with scissors, then bake them on the top shelf of the oven for 20-25 minutes. Finally, cool them on a wire rack and, when they're absolutely cold, pack them carefully between layers of baking parchment in plastic freezer boxes.

Mince meat ingredients

450 Bramley apples, cored and chopped small (no need to peel them)
225 g shredded suet
350 g raisins
225 sultanas
225 g currants
225 g whole mixed candied peel, finely chopped
350 g soft dark brown sugar
grated zest and juice 2 oranges
grated zest and juice 2 lemons
50 g)
whole almonds, cut into slivers
4 level teaspoons mixed ground spice
½ level teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ level teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
6 tablespoons brandy


All you do is combine all the ingredients, except for the brandy, in a large mixing bowl, stirring them and mixing them together very thoroughly indeed. 

Then cover the bowl with a clean cloth and leave the mixture in a cool place overnight or for 12 hours, so the flavourshave a chance to mingle and develop.

After that pre-heat the oven to gas mark ¼, 225°F (110°C). 

Cover the bowl loosely with foil and place it in the oven for 3 hours, then remove the bowl from the oven. Don't worry about the appearance of the mincemeat, which will look positively swimming in fat. This is how it should look. 

As it cools, stir it from time to time; the fat will coagulate and, instead of it being in tiny shreds, it will encase all the other ingredients. 
When the mincemeat is quite cold, stir well again, adding the brandy. Pack in jars that have been sterilised (see below). 

When filled, cover with waxed discs and seal. The mincemeat will keep for ages in a cool, dark cupboard - I have kept it for up to 3 years. 

Vegetarian can make this mincemeat happily, using vegetarian suet. And if you don't want the full quantity, make half.

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