At Christmas I like a mince pie and a few years ago I found the perfect recipe in my Katie Stewart book. Last year I took the bold step of also making the mincemeat from scratch so this year I felt duty bound to do the same, only this time I held back and made just the one gigantic jar full. The pastry for the mince pies has everything you could possibly wish for in a seasonal food – plenty butter, icing sugar, egg yolk, ground almonds, lemon zest. And the pastry freezes well so you can make one enormous ball of the stuff and gradually make those little pies over the next week or so.
Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 18 minutes
Skill level: easy
Serves: how many mince pies can you eat?
- plain flour – 275g
- butter – 175g
- icing sugar – 75g
- ground almonds – 25g
- egg yolk – 1
- zest of 1 lemon
- lots of tasty mincemeat made by your own fair hand, or a jar of the best shop-bought you can manage
So to make these pies, first the pastry. Put the flour in a large bowl and add the butter in small pieces, then rub it into the flour to get a breadcrumb consistency. Next add the sifted icing sugar, ground almonds, lemon zest and egg yolk and mix thoroughly until you have a nice ball of pastry. Wrap the pastry and chill for an hour.
When ready to use, pre-heat the oven to 200C/gas mark 5. Grease a couple of 12-hole fairy cake tins.
Roll out the pastry to half a cm thick. Cut rounds of pastry with a 7.5 cm pastry cutter and line the cake tins. Next add generous dollops of mincemeat to the pastry, making sure to leave enough space for them to be sealed properly when covered. Now cover the mincemeat with the remaining pastry, sealing as you go. Make a few fork holes in the top of each pie, then glaze with milk. Stick in the oven and bake for 18 minutes or until golden brown.
Remove from oven and put on a rack to cool. Serve with a sprinkle of icing sugar. Realise you haven’t made enough and start the whole process again.
Verdict: Universal approval every time they’re made – it’s the lemon zest and ground almonds in the pastry I think, along with the fact that the pastry is the just the right thickness to lull you into thinking that there’s room for another. Oh, and while you’re there, another.
Drink: Red wine, heated and spiced.
Entertainment: Charades of course. And cherubic local children singing carols on the doorstep.