My grandma used to make perfect mince pies. Elegant, with a uniform shape. Fluffy, light pastry, and filling that oozed out gently when you took a bite. Nowadays I'm the one in our family who makes the mince pies, but I don't have her recipe or nimble fingers so I just bumble about on my own. The result is deep buttery pies. And they really are pies. Lack of resources means I use a muffin tray, so my festive treats are beefy. They splat and crumble, they shoulder their way into the party instead of lightly skipping, the stars atop them a bizarre accoutrement, like a sumo wrestler wearing a tiny silver top hat.
However, they do the job, and while making them this year I took some photos. So if you lean more towards big fat mince pies, you can follow my recipe below.
225g Unsalted butter
350g Plain Flour
100g Caster Sugar
500g Mincemeat (about one and a half standard jars)
A small cup of milk
2 tsps Cinammon
Juice of one orange
Makes about 12.
I used my Mason Cash ginormous mixing bowl as I was doing a double batch this year. I love this bowl but since my kitchen is smaller than a milk carton I don't get to use it as much as I would like.
Heat the oven to about 180C, then...
First off I make the pastry. Now my method for making pastry is highly unorthodox (read: lazy). I melt the butter. I know, this is a terrible thing in the world of baking, but I can't stand getting butter and flour stuck under my fingernails, and besides, it works.
While that's melting I mix together the flour, sugar, cinnamon, and the orange juice. Orange juice makes the pastry taste slightly more Christmassy (not a word) and also gets it lovely and moist.
Then when the butter has melted I stir it into the flour mixture and leave to cool. You can pop it in the fridge for a bit if you're antsy.
I grease the muffin tray and then take small balls of the cooled pastry it and push them into the holes in the tray. I cut off any excess at the top with a knife, trying to keep it as neat as possible. Then I spoon a round teaspoon full of mincemeat into the pies.
To make the stars for the top I just flatten some pastry with my hand and then use a star-shaped cutter. I also used hearts this year because that's pretty sweet. Finally I brush some milk on to the tops of the mince pies so they brown in the oven.
Put them in the oven for 20-30 minutes until they're golden. Leave them to cool in their trays for 10 minutes, then turn them out onto a cooling rack. The pastry will harden more as they cool. Eat them with lashings of brandy butter.