It just isn’t Christmas until you have baked that first batch of mince pies! I have fond memories of this classic British Christmas treat. When I first moved to Berlin, each Christmas I would make my way to Broken English, a store full of British food that was a must for every expat. Sadly these days there are far too many online rivals (and rivals both in convenience and price!) that I now don’t visit the shop as often as I should. Unless there is last minute dash for some pickle! But mince pies do not travel well when thrown into a delivery box, no matter how well packaged it is. And while I like my online order for a guaranteed delivery of Cadbury’s chocolate Santa’s, Terry’s Chocolate Orange and some Bisto Gravy, Branston Pickle and HP Brown Sauce thrown into the mix I do avoid ordering the mince pies.
A lot of the mince pie recipes out there focus on using ready-made mincemeat and instead making your own pastry. I do mine the other way round and use shop-bought shortcrust pastry and make my own filling. Quite frankly I hate making pastry. I find it annoying. Rolling out pastry until you get it just the right thickness for it to start to break and crumble and you have to start again… or it getting too warm from all that kneading and rolling that the butter starts to melt and the whole thing becomes a mess. And with my kitchen then covered in flour! I prefer to stick to the shop-bought version and focus my attention on the mincemeat. Making the filling is my kind of recipe! It is why I love making my Italian Chocolate Christmas Cake because like this recipe I simply just throw all the ingredients together in a bowl and stir. Plus of course, I don’t hold back on the brandy!
All that is needed is a little brandy butter or a dollop of cream with a little cointreau mixed in. The mincemeat ideally needs to be made two weeks before but you can make the actual mince pies the day before Christmas Eve ready to hand out when your guests start to arrive!
- 1 pack ready-made shortcrust pastry.
- 270g raisins
- 375g currants
- 100g dried cranberries
- 100g mixed peel
- 200g dark brown sugar
- 200ml brandy
- zest of 1 lemon, juice of half
- zest of 1 orange, all the juice
- ½ tsp ground nutmeg
- ½ tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 small apple (peeled, cored and finely chopped)
- 1 tsp mixed spice
- 100g butter
- 1 egg (beaten)
- Caster sugar
- Heat the butter in a large, deep pan. Then add all the ingredients apart from the brandy. Simmer on a gently heat, stirring slowly for around 10 mins.
- Leave the mixture to cool. Then pour in the brandy. Mix well.
- Pour into sterilised jars. Leave for ideally up to two weeks (at least one week!) before using. Will store in airtight jars for up to 6 weeks.
- On the day you plan to make the mince pies: Preheat the oven to 200C/gas 6/fan 180C. Roll out the pastry.
- Take a 12 hole muffin tin. Using round pastry cutters take the size that will fit the pastry best around each muffin hole. Line each hole with the pastry.
- Place about 1 and half tsp mincemeat in each muffin hole.
- Using the rest of the pastry (you may need to roll out again to use all the odds and ends) take a smaller pastry cutter for the lid of the mince pies. In this case I used a star shape. Top the lid on top of each muffin hole. If you are using a full round lid make a little hole with a fork. If you use a star shape there is no need as there already some slight gaps for the mincemeat to steam through.
- Brush the tops of the pastry with the beaten egg and bake for 20 mins or until golden.
- Leave to cool in the tin for around 10 mins then remove to cool completely. Lightly dust with some caster sugar on top.