In recent years I have taken increasing pleasure in devoting a little time to bake for friends and family in the run up to Christmas. Now that my two year old daughter has taken an interest in helping me in the kitchen, this gives me an extra warm hygge glow in the festive season!
This year I turned my hand to making mince pies. The BBC Good Food website’s Unbelievably Easy Mince Pie recipe seemed to require the level of effort that I was aiming for – and I have tweaked their base recipe below to my own taste.
Previously I have cheated and bought pre-made pastry – but this year I have discovered just how simple it is to make my own – so I won’t be going back to the Jus Rol! Despite the pastry laziness – I did however make my own mincemeat last year; I didn’t find it particularly memorable – so haven’t bothered again. Instead I used Robertsons Traditional Mincemeat and mixed it with a few spoonfuls of my favourite alcohol: Pineau des Charentes, a speciality of the region where I am renovating a house in France. This gives the filling some extra moisture and adds a delicate but delicious flavour. As Pineau is difficult to find outside of France, any sweet alcohol – such as sherry – will do!
This mixture makes about 15 mince pies. They are quite crumbly and mine came out looking decidedly homemade – so – forks at the ready to eat them!
Fortunately I have found them to be extremely popular. Although, in theory, they last for several days in an air tight tin – in practice, they were all gone within hours. As such – I have already made several batches this Christmas, with more planned!
They are so simple to make and don’t require any rolling – so they are perfect to make with children. I was especially lucky this Christmas to have my lovely niece visiting from Australia – so she helped me. Having not spent time together in the last decade, this was a fun bonding moment and a great way to spend some time baking and chatting together.
Oh – and she just graduated as a Doctor with a Distinction – don’t ya know! (Any excuse for a proud Aunty moment!) Moving on swiftly to the mince pies…
250g Cold, diced, unsalted butter
350g Plain flour
100g Golden Caster Sugar*
A pinch of salt
3-4 Tbsp Pineau des Charentes or sweet alcohol of your choice, such as Sherry (Optional)
1 Small egg (beaten)
*Note: Personally, I find the 100g of sugar in the pastry is more than sweet enough and on my second batch suggested reducing this to my niece. She was having none of it and protested in no uncertain terms on the grounds that she considered the original mince pies to be pretty much perfect, just as they were! She may be a Dr but now she has left the country, I can ignore her opinions and will be trying another batch with less sugar – as I suspect that 70g would be plenty. So if you have a less-sweet palate – I suggest reducing the sugar a little!
- Put your mincemeat into a bowl and mix in 3-4 tbsps of your preferred alcohol. Set this aside until later.
- Preheat the oven to 200C (Fan: 180C) or Gas mark 6. Get out your mince pie or muffin tray.
- Rub the diced butter into the flour until well mixed. (Yes, you could put it in a mixer – but having now discovered how relaxing it feels to make pastry from scratch, I recommend doing it by hand!)
- Add the sugar and the pinch of salt and mix it in until you have a rough, firm dough.
- Combine the pastry into a ball and kneed briefly.
- Put a heaped teaspoon of pastry in to each cup of your bun tray. Press the pastry along the base of each hole.
- Spoon the mincemeat into the pastry bases.
- Divide the remaining pastry into the number of pies you are making and shape the dough into balls. Take each ball and flatten it out in your hand to make round pie tops. Place over pies to cover the mincemeat. Push gently round the edges to seal against the pie base.
- Beat an egg and brush over the top of the pies.
- Bake for 20 minutes until golden. Leave in the hot tin for an additional five minutes and then move to a wire wrack to cool.
- Try not to eat them all at once!
Christmas 2018 – Mince Pie Musings
Taking a break from the – lengthy – Christmas ‘to do’ list with a cuppa with one of these lovely mince pies. Hot and crumbly – they have made my kitchen smell of Pineau des Charentes and Christmas spice ❤️🎄😋
I’m not normally one for using the only “Daddy” mug left in the house (here as a small mark of continuity for when they visit the girls) but… when all my other mugs are going through the dishwasher, I do now feel entitled to use this mug too.
Day-to-day and throughout the nights, I am Mummy, Daddy and everything in between. This shift has entirely changed my viewpoint on parenting.
Yes, I am more tired than ever I was – and I feel the weight of the unshared responsibility – but my sense of privilege has also multiplied exponentially. As has my ability to live in the moment and experience contentment. My girls bring me joy and make me grateful every day.
Life will inevitably surprise you with its twists and turns… but it is so important to pause to see the good in any new situation. No matter how challenging it may be, there is always good and joy to be found.
A cup of tea and a homemade mince pie is a good place to start!
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