Mince pies originally contained minced meat as their name implies. They date back to the mid 1500s as a traditional Christmas snack. The Victorians weren't so keen on the meat content so they changed the recipe to use a sweet filling now know as mincemeat.
It is possible to make your own mincemeat but it's really not worth it considering the price and quality of shop bought mincemeat. Price though is important, so buy a good quality version if you want the best results.
|55g / 2oz cooking margarine (e.g. Stork)|
|55g / 2oz refined cooking fat / lard (e.g. Cookeen)|
|220g / 8oz plain flour|
INGREDIENTS FOR THE FILLING
|200g / 7oz mincemeat.|
|Small amount of milk or a lightly whisked egg.|
|Small amount of icing sugar|
There are loads of different sizes of bun tins, all suitable for different cakes and small pies. The ideal size for a mince pie is about 1½cm / ¾in deep by about 6½cm / 2¾in wide at the top. The exact size is not crucial but some bun tines are definitely too large for mince pies.
You will need two pastry cutters, one larger cutter for the base and another slightly smaller one for the top. The exact size will depend on the size of your bun tin.
Recipe by David Marks.
Measure out the cooking margarine and fat, cut into small pieces and leave to one side for 10 minutes until they have warmed up a bit from the fridge. It is possible to use margarine and fat straight from the fridge but it makes mixing it with the flour much more difficult.
Grease the bun tin well to stop the mince pies sticking when cooked.
Incorporating air into the mixture will give you a lighter and better shortcrust pastry.
The mixture should end up as small crumbs although some larger bits may be present. Don't overdo this stage, it should only take two or three minutes.
The mix is of the correct consistency when it is in a ball and can collect all the odd bits around the bowl into one single ball.
Wrap the mix in cling film and place it in the fridge for 30 minutes to 'rest'. After it has rested for 30 minutes it is ready to be rolled out. Dust the work surface and rolling pin with flour and roll out the pastry with a rolling pin. Turn round the pastry after every two rolls or so of the rolling pin to stop it sticking to the work surface. The pastry should be about 2mm deep give or take a little but not much thinner.
Turn the oven on, setting it to 200°C / 400°F / Gas 6 (or 180°C / 350°F / Gas 4 for fan-assisted ovens).
Grease the bun tin well with margarine, oil or lard to stop the mince pies sticking. Line the holes of the bun tin with the pastry cut out above.
Don't add more because it will rise up and dribble out during cooking spoiling the appearance of the mince pies.
If you don't have a brush just dip your fingers in the milk and run them round the edges.
The purpose of this is to help the the base and top of the pie stick together.
Brush the top of the pies with milk to help give them a golden colour when cooked.
Repeat the above process for the remaining 9 mince pies.
Take the cooked mince pies from the oven and dust them with a little icing sugar. They are delicious hot or cold and will keep for three or four days.