What better way is there to welcome guests into your home during the festive season, than with a big smile and a plate of homemade mince pies? Not only are these quick and easy to bake, they could be made in advance of your festive events and frozen once they have cooled, to be brought out again ready to eat later! Or why not put some in a small gift box with coloured tissue paper to give as little Christmas presents? Children will love making these mince pies too and sharing them with their friends, it’s fun for all!
Of course there are lots of different branded mince pies to choose from in the shops and grocery stores at this time of year. However, there are additives used in these products to extend their shelf-life. So when you choose to bake something at home instead, you are able to cut down on these extra ingredients which do not add any additional flavour. Instead, your ingredients can all be fresh and wholesome when you make them yourself at home. It always tastes better when you know exactly what has gone into what you are eating too!
If you are reading this and you are not very confident in the kitchen, or you feel that you would normally struggle to bake anything, then fear not because this recipe is great for a beginner baker because it is very straight forward and easy to follow. Even if you would not consider yourself very good at baking or cooking, give this recipe a go and impress your friends.
*This recipe is designed for beginners but you could also make your own mincemeat should you wish. A list of ingredients for mincemeat and a method for this is listed at the end of the article as a bonus.
So let’s get started!Credit: authors own
(This recipe for the pastry will make between 16 and 20 mince pies, depending on how thickly you shape the pastry bases and lids).
- 225g of butter
- 350g of plain flour
- 100g of caster sugar
- 250g of mincemeat approx. (one jar should be enough but purchase two jars if you like a fuller mincemeat filling)
- one small egg
- Icing sugar or edible glitter to dust
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*Of course if you prefer to make this recipe even faster, you could purchase ready-made shortcrust pastry and all you’d have to do then would be to grease the cupcake trays with some butter, cut the pie shapes and fill them with the mincemeat. But we’ll continue with the steps for those that want to make their own tasty pastry...
To make the pastry, add the 225g of butter to a large mixing bowl. Sieve in the 350g plain flour and add the 100g of caster sugar. The mixture will come together forming a firm dough.Credit: Max Straeten
Preheat the oven to 200 C/Gas Mark 6/Fan Assisted 180 C. Use some butter to coat each hole in the two 12-hole cupcake trays. Doing this will help prevent your mince pies from sticking to the tray.
Divide your pastry roughly into two and set one half to the side for the mince pie lids. Using your hands, break off small sections of the pastry and roll these out flat. You can place these flattened shapes straight into the cupcake trays or use a cookie cutter to get a nice, even circular shape to your pie cases. Place each one carefully into the cupcake tray holes.
Using a teaspoon, place your 250g of mincemeat into each of the mince pie pastry bases. (It’s best to start by adding small amounts to each pastry base and then to top them all up afterwards, rather than to over-fill some at the start).
Using the pastry that was set aside earlier, you can now make the mince pie heart-shaped lids, so roll the pastry out flat and cut out your shapes. Carefully place the shapes on top of the mince pies to act as lids.
Beat one small egg in a cup and brush the lids and rims of the mince pies. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes until they appear golden and crisp. After they have cooled, put them on a wire rack.
To serve you could dust each mince pie with some icing sugar or edible glitter to add a festive touch. Enjoy them with brandy cream or brandy butter, hot or cold! Or simply have a mince pie on its own with a cup of tea by the fireside.
Store them in an airtight container for up to one week, or freeze them once they have cooled down to room temperature and they should last for around one month.
Once you get confident with the above recipe, then instead of heart shaped cookie cutters, why not try stars, angel or tree shaped cutters too? Your imagination can inspire you and creating variety in your shaped lids will not only show the thought and effort you have put into your baking, it will also look more visually appealing and appetizing to your family and friends. If you are wondering, but will I use these cookie cutters at other times of the year? Then the answer is certainly! You could make shaped cookies or biscuits with them. Or you could even use them for creating salt dough models, the list is endless!
Children too, can have a great time being creative making these mince pie lids with relatively little mess and all they will need will be the shaped cutters. Using different cutters will again add some individuality to your child’s baking and if you are baking with a large group, it makes each child’s mince pie more readily identifiable.
I personally make a few batches of these mince pies every year for my family and friends and I have to say that they disappear very quickly! Always keep an eye on them in the oven to ensure a nice even bake and that they have a light golden colour to the pastry. The pastry should taste light and crumbly, and it always feels great to enjoy food you have made yourself at home.
So why not give it a go and bake these delicious and easy mince pies yourself at home this Christmas.Credit: jzlomek
Mincemeat recipe for the more advanced baker:
*You can make the mincemeat up to two weeks before you bake your mince pies and store it in the fridge. This recipe is suitable for vegetarians.
- 300g cranberries or cherries
- 75g brown or caster sugar
- 75g currants
- 75g sultanas
- 75g raisins
- 60ml port
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon ground cloves
- Zest and juice of 1 small orange
Add the ingredients below after 15-20 minutes of gentle simmering
- 25ml brandy
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 3 drops of almond extract
Step 1 of 1
In a pan, dissolve the sugar in the port over a gentle heat and stir in the cranberries or cherries. Add all the other listed ingredients except the bottom four! Let the mixture simmer on a gentle heat for 15-20 minutes and then take the mixture off the heat. Add the brandy, vanilla extract, honey and almond extract. And there we go! You’ve made your first mincemeat mixture! Put to the side if baking the pastry now, or in the fridge once fully cooled to use for later.
Below is You Tuber Laura Vitale making her own mince pies as part of her series 'Laura in the Kitchen'. Laura's recipe is of course different to mine above but that is the great thing about mince pies, you can experiment with your mincemeat and create different, exciting flavors.