Construct your own mince pies

For years I didn’t really like Mince Pies. I didn’t hate them, but they never were anywhere near the top of the seasonal treat list like they are for so many people here in the UK. Domesticated Mum on the other hand really seems to think they are one of the best things about Christmas. So last year I decided to make some for her, and in the name of quality control I tried one, and discovered that it isn’t Mince Pies I don’t like, it is ‘store-bought’ mince pies that fail to hit the treat button of my taste buds.

I am not sure what they do to mince pies in the factory that make them so sub-standard, but I imagine it is probably whatever chemical process they put them through to make them have a shelf life of more than two or three days… Oh, and the terrible pastry they always seem to use.

Of course, store-bought mince pies will always be popular among the masses because to make them from scratch is like a day long mission… Or even longer if you make your own mince meat. If you follow my careful construction method however, you can have a far superior mince-pie that you can use to fool your friends into thinking you spent 10 hours in the kitchen toiling for their treat, and they will taste better than any store-bought pie, for the same price.

Homemade Mince Pies; The cheats method

  • Preparation time: 20 minutes
  • Baking time: 20-25 minutes
  • Skill level: easy
  • Makes 12

Homemade mince pie

Ingredients

  • 375g pack sweet short crust pastry (you can make your own if you have an hour or two to kill, but nobody will ever know the difference)
  • 375g/ 13 oz jar mincemeat (best you can afford) (you could also make your own if you want to eat your mince pies in January)
  • 50g/2 oz ground almonds
  • 3 tbsp candied peel
  • 100g/4 oz marzipan, finely diced (again you could make your own if you like)
  • 25g/1 oz flaked almonds
  • icing sugar for dusting

Method

  1. Heat the oven to 220ºC/gas 6.
  2. Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured surface and stamp out 12 roughly 8 cm circles. You might need to re-roll the trimmings.
  3. Lightly oil a 12 hole bun tin, and press the circles into the holes.
  4. Place the mincemeat into a bowl and blend in the finely diced marzipan and ground almonds, and then fill pies with a couple teaspoons of the mincemeat.
  5. Add a pinch of the flaked almonds to the top of each pie.
  6. If you have enough pastry left over make a lid to cover the pies. If you don’t have enough pastry left, add a few extra flaked almonds to the top to cover the pies. (This prevents the mincemeat mix from bubbling over the sides during baking)
  7. Bake the pies for 20-25 minutes until the pastry is golden.
  8. Allow the pies to cool in the tin until you can carefully remove them from the tin, then dust with icing sugar.
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