Ahhhhh the Mince Pie!!! I admit, I love them. But it has been a slow burn, as a child they were on my revolting list, but as time as gone by I have given in to the inevitable and they now are one of my Christmas must haves!
As with most things, home made taste best. I always make the pastry (pastry is so easy to make, no griping!) and never make the mince meat (for our non-British or Irish readers – this contains no actual meat, but is a mix of dried fruit, spices and booze, to make a delicious unctuous filling to sweet pastry pies). There are so many different types and brands to choose from, from the standard old fashioned moderately priced ones, to shockingly expensive brands containing extra yummy ingredients such as nuts, cherries and booze!
But as with everything, there are different ways to make these seasonal treats, and I have found some of the easiest and very best on the web – plus a quick easy peasy treat at the end, which even the most ardent non-baker could make with ease!
BBC Good Food
Unbelievably Easy Mince Pies
As always, I have turned to BBC Good Food and found these ‘unbelievably easy mince pies’, and they really are, they are the minimum effort, jolly good predictable results mince pies. Very few ingredients, lovely short home made buttery pastry, filled with your choice of mincemeat (Marks & Spencer does a rather splendid chocolate mincemeat!). The recipe calls for golden caster sugar, but its not the end of the world if you don’t have it, normal caster sugar will suffice and do the job very well.
If you are a making pastry virgin, then this recipe is for you, it really could not be more simple!
Traditional Mince Pies
Of course! I also had to turn to the queen of all things foodie and her recipe for ‘traditional mince pies” is as simple as the BBC’s Good Food’s, the main difference being that the pastry calls for lard rather than butter, many people swearing that for the best pastry lard is what is needed, and I do have to agree that lard makes a delicious pastry, however for some people lard is an ingredient that is vetoed! If this is the case the BBC Good Food recipe calling for butter makes a great pastry, or there are vegetarian substitutes for lard! Either way, Delia as always shows you in very easy steps how to make fabulous mince pies!
Great British Chefs
I was highly unconvinced when I found this recipe, unlike the above two, this has an extensive and pricey ingredient list, and really does mess with the traditional, BUT this is ok, as they are scrummy, they have instead of a pastry top, a financier batter, I typed those words as if I had a clue what that was!! I didn’t, until I cooked these mince pies, it makes a lighter crispier top, to the pies, incorporating egg whites and ground almonds. I have made them only once, and due to the fact that there is slightly more work and cost is involved in making these mince pies, I would only make them again for a Christmas party or gathering, the easier and cheaper alternatives above are more then perfect for wolfing down in front of the telly with a glass of wine/sherry/cup of tea on Christmas day! If you are out to impress with your home baking though these are a really good tasty and impressive looking treat!
The Ultimate Easy Cheat……Mince Pie Pinwheels!
I am finishing off with possibly the quickest and easiest way to make Christmas treats, which you can say are home-made, but are virtually effortless!
With just three ingredients you cannot go wrong!
One pre-rolled packet of puff pastry (or if its in a block, roll it out until its just under a cm thick, in a square, that will fit when rolled up into your backing tray;
one egg beaten; and
icing sugar to dust (optional).
- Lay out the puff pastry on a greaseproof paper, or a baking sheet, and spread the mince meat over evenly.
- Take the ends of the pastry and carefully roll-up to form a Swiss roll like shape.
- With a sharp knife cut about 20 slices and lay them on a baking tray, leaving enough room for the pinwheels to rise and spread out slightly.Brush the outsides of the pinwheels with the beaten egg.
- Pop into a pre-heated oven for about 15 to 20 minutes until the pastry has risen and is golden brown.
- Dust with icing sugar before serving!
Less than 30 minutes including prep time for some very yummy Christmas treats that you can absolutely pass off as home baked!
You can of course dress these pinwheels up a little, with the addition of chopped cherries and nuts, or by adding in a little brandy to the mincemeat before spreading it on the pastry. A finely chopped apple and some orange peel also make nice additions.
At Christmas when the commercialisation has arguably gone mad, there is something very nice and satisfying about making your own mince pies, they always transport me back to childhood, when my mum would have days of making mince pies and sausage rolls to be frozen and kept for the holidays.