For my family, my Gran’s Christmas Mince Pies have marked the festive season for as long as we can remember. Unlike any of the less-than-average store-bought variety, her homemade pies are always in hot demand. Many a lazy Christmas afternoon has been spent lounging in Gran and Gramps’ living room, a tea in one hand and a warm, comforting pie in the other.
It’s an annual indulgence and a beloved tradition that I am excited to share with you all this Christmas. So, be sure to read on for the now not-so-secret recipe and let me know how your pies turn out…and what traditions they create. Oh, and have a very Merry Christmas!
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Orange Pastry for Mince Pies
This light, crumbly, rich pastry is the be-all of these mince pies. The pastry’s slight zest, which comes from the orange rind and juice, gives it a luxurious edge which will leave you wanting more…
- 500g (1 lb) plain flour
- 175g (6 oz) icing sugar or caster sugar
- 375g (12 oz) butter
- finely grated rind and juice of 1 large orange
- Sift the flour and sugar into a mixing bowl.
- Cut the butter into small cubes. Stir the cubes into the flour and then rub gently with your fingertips until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.
- Stir in the grated orange rind. Then, using a knife, stir in the orange juice until the dough just begins to stick together.
- Gather up the dough and pat it into a ball. Wrap the dough in cling film (or, a bee’s wax wrap) and refrigerate for 30 minutes or more before using.
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Mince Pies De Luxe
Mince pies can often be quite dry but by mixing the mincemeat with cream cheese you can give them a really smooth texture and an indulgent flavour. So, what are you waiting for? Get baking…
- 250g (8 oz) full fat cream cheese
- 50g (2 oz) caster sugar
- 500g (1 lb) orange pastry (above)
- Oil/butter for greasing
- 500g Old English fruit mince
- Milk to glaze (optional)
- While waiting for the pastry to cool, put the cream cheese and the caster sugar in a bowl and beat them until smooth. Set aside.
- When the pastry is ready, knead it lightly before dividing it in half. Roll one half out more thickly than usual. Using a 7.5cm (3-inch) pastry cutter, cut out 24 rounds, re-rolling the pastry as necessary.
- Line greased patty tins with the rounds. Fill to about half their depth with mincemeat. Then, put a teaspoon of the beaten cream cheese mixture on top of the mincemeat and smooth the top.
- Roll out the remaining pastry and, ideally using a smaller cutter (5cm or 2-inch) or similarly-sized star-shaped cutter, cut out another 24 rounds. Place one atop of each pie. If necessary, use a fork to make some ventilation holes in the top pastry-casing.
- Brush the tops of the pies with cold milk (optional) and bake in the centre of the oven, preheated to 220°C (Gas Mark 7) for 15 minutes or until light golden-brown. Remove from oven and leave to cool in patty tins.
- When the pies have cooled, gently ease them from the tins with a round-bladed knife.
- Serve either warm (which is best) or cold paired with a cup of tea or coffee.