Mince pies for Christmas

Posted on 12/16/2008 by chochotte
Not long til Christmas! So it's time to start overeating.

I personally am not a fan of dried fruit...annoying, when it's the basis for pretty much every traditional British Christmas delicacy. But everyone else will eat them.

These mince pies are made with a suet-free 'quincemeat' and encased in gorgeous buttery flaky pastry.

So, the filling for the pies is a combination of the traditional sultanas and raisins, along with chopped dried apricots, a few chopped prunes, and roasted, chopped quince (my favourite fruit, and only around at this time of year). I just roasted the peeled, cored and quartered quince in a little butter until soft, then diced them and added them to the dried fruit.

I always leave out the traditional candied peel: I've yet to find a decent shop-bought brand and one year I made my own which was amazing, a world away from the supermarket kind, but it took about 5 hours, so I can live without it.

The quantity and proportion of the fruit is really up to you: how much you need, and what your preferences are. Some people put in dried figs, pears, cranberries... although it's not traditional, I think it's nice to mix it up a bit.

So you mix all this in a bowl and add ground spices: again, personal preference can dictate your choice but I put in quite a lot of cinnamon plus nutmeg and cloves. Traditionally, apparently, you had to put in these three spices to represent the three Magi who came to worship the Christchild but that sort of thing does not concern me: I just like cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves.

Now: the suet issue. It's really not necessary to mincemeat at all. You can just add a few tablespoons of melted butter instead. I think that's a much nicer option, so that's what I did.

Then to moisten the filling, add a few glugs of brandy, some orange juice (I add orange zest, too) and sugar (preferably muscavado, or at least soft brown) to taste. It's really up to you how much of all this you put in. I find that nobody objects to rather a lot of brandy in life.

Leave it all aside to soak for a white.

Oh, and you must only stir the mincemeat clockwise, or you'll bring bad luck for the coming year.

Then you can press and cut out your pie bases and lids. You need an unsweetened shortcrust pastry recipe for this, bought or homemade. The pies should be baked in a bun tin. I always do star lids: it's much easier to make pretty pies this way than by trying to worry about putting round ones on neatly.

Fill the bases with a good tablespoon of mincemeat, top with the lids, and bake at the appropriate temperature for your pastry recipe. You can brush the pastry with beaten egg or milk if you like, but I prefer pale matte pastry to glossy golden: again, up to you.

When the pastry is lightly golden and cooked through (perhaps 20 minutes?), remove the pies from the oven, leave to cool on a wire rack and dust with icing/confectioner's sugar before serving.

Lovely flaky pastry...
theamygdala 16th-Dec-2008 03:44 pm (UTC)
I want to steal this recipe but replace the mincemeat with Nutella :)
whiteexcuses 16th-Dec-2008 03:51 pm (UTC)
Looks delicious! I wanna try it someday for Christmas! *faves page*
bluemotion 16th-Dec-2008 03:51 pm (UTC)
It looks like Photobucket is set to reduce your pictures to Medium size (320x240). You need to set it to reduce your pictures to 1MB. There should be a "Reduce to:" menu under your upload boxes, or an Options button.
(no subject) - Anonymous
bluemotion 16th-Dec-2008 04:00 pm (UTC)
Mmm, much better.
angelchrome 16th-Dec-2008 04:06 pm (UTC)
Heck yeah, I'm making shortcrust today so I can put together pies this week. I'm not wild about dried fruit, but my husband grew up with mince pies at Christmas so I'm giving it my best shot. I doubt they'll be as nice as his mum's, but hopefully they won't be disastrous.
(no subject) - Anonymous
angelchrome 16th-Dec-2008 04:34 pm (UTC)
His mum is old school and puts up mincemeat earlier in the year so it can macerate for ages and it turns out very quality. We're in the US at the moment though and since we don't really do mince pies here we were surprised to find jars of mincemeat in the supermarket last night. Poor substitute, but it beats the total lack of pies in his holiday I think.
(no subject) - Anonymous
angelchrome 16th-Dec-2008 04:42 pm (UTC)
That's what I'm figuring - I might make a couple of specialty batches like one with a small dose of brandy and one with chopped pecans, etc.
(no subject) - Anonymous - Expand
somewhereapart 16th-Dec-2008 04:19 pm (UTC)
You're just starting? I've been over-eating since Thanksgiving! haha

And those look yummy!
(no subject) - Anonymous
somewhereapart 16th-Dec-2008 04:22 pm (UTC)
Ah, you're lucky. You miss out on those late-November-early-December pounds then!
(no subject) - Anonymous
somewhereapart 16th-Dec-2008 04:33 pm (UTC)
I'm sure you can get them, but they're not common. I've never had one.
(no subject) - Anonymous - Expand
dchockeyguy 16th-Dec-2008 04:38 pm (UTC)
I believe our mincemeat is different than what you have. I don't think mincemeat you buy in the stores in the US normally has suet in it.

I haven't made a pie in a few years, but like you, I add brandy and orange juice to mine.
joandirk 16th-Dec-2008 05:49 pm (UTC)
Those look yummy! I started making mincemeat pies (with actual meat in them!) a couple years ago, and my parents love them. But it has suet in it, so my boyfriend won't touch it.

My recipe has apples, raisins, and currants for its fruit, with molasses and brown sugar, for its sweetening, and bourbon instead of brandy.

I might have to make your recipe, too! (since I already have a batch of the mincemeat in the freezer for the Christmas pie) Yours are very pretty, and I like that they're hand sized.
(no subject) - Anonymous
joandirk 16th-Dec-2008 06:56 pm (UTC)
It's really rather interesting, and so I'm not sure if I like it too much. It has the savory flavor from the beef, but it's also sweet from the fruit and sugar.

Originally I had asked my dad what kind of pie he wanted me to make for Thanksgiving, and he said he liked mincemeat. I was all like, ooh, I'm going to find a traditional mincemeat pie, and somehow ended up with this one. Which, looking back on it, doesn't necessarily look "traditional." But it's got meat and it's got suet, so I guess it sounded "real" to me, someone who has never had any kind of it before.

I like the sound of yours with the apricots and other flavors. And, because it has no suet, it'd make my boyfriend happy!
(no subject) - Anonymous
joandirk 16th-Dec-2008 07:16 pm (UTC)
Actually, I think he was expecting the stuff from a can! :D And I don't think that mincemeat pies are common at all anymore.

But it was a fun experiment, and has since become a tradition!
stargrlnat 16th-Dec-2008 05:50 pm (UTC)
mince pies are my favorite childhood thing. i miss living in the UK and being able to buy these in stores. luckily i have a super nice aunt near by who makes these for me anytime im visiting.

i might have to try making them myself this year!
artkouros 16th-Dec-2008 06:30 pm (UTC)
Those are cute. My dad loves mincemeat.
peppermints_x 16th-Dec-2008 08:07 pm (UTC)
I didn't know mince pies were British, lol.
mellowsundrops 17th-Dec-2008 12:40 am (UTC)
So mincemeat pies don't really have meat in them?
Cuz the thought of pie with meat really grosses me out
(no subject) - Anonymous
mellowsundrops 17th-Dec-2008 01:50 am (UTC)
Haha okay. Well thank you haha
sweetest 17th-Dec-2008 01:47 am (UTC)
omgosh these are so cute

& the flaky pastry looks so yummy! :D fabulous job.
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