Friday 13 December 2013

M is for...Mince Pie

They are the Marmite of Christmas foods – you either love them or hate them. If you love them you start eagerly counting down the days until the official start of the Mince Pie Season – at JibberJabber Towers this is 1st December and not a day before. Supermarket boxes of mince pies that are put on the shelves at the end of August with a best-before date of October should be made illegal in my view. Since I have mentioned the legality of mince pies it should be noted that it is actually a myth that eating mince pies is still illegal. According to the Law Commission Oliver Cromwell's ban on the consumption of mince pies on Christmas Day is not one of the 11 laws of Cromwell's that remain on the statute book.

I don't make my own mincemeat, which may come as a surprise but as a non-drinker I haven't found a non-alcoholic recipe which can be made in advance and kept for any length of time. However dear Thrifters you will be relived to find that this year's stash of mincemeat cost me just 10p a jar earlier in the year and has been in storage awaiting December. If you wish to jazz up a jar of mincemeat you can simply add some orange juice and some zest, a selection of finely chopped nuts – almonds work well, or some different dried fruits such as cherries or cranberries.

One thing I do make is my own pastry. Plain shortcrust pastry really doesn't do this festive treat any justice so this the pastry I make. It makes enough for a dozen mince pies with cut out tops. Be warned though – you'll soon find yourself whipping up another batch in no time.
Equipment: Food processor, 12 hole bun tin, round and shaped pastry cutters.


4oz (110g) Plain flour
1oz (28g) Ground almonds
1½ oz (40g) Icing sugar
3oz (85g) Unsalted butter, straight from the fridge, diced
1 Egg, yolk and white separated
Jar mincemeat


1. Measure out the flour, almonds, and icing sugar into a bowl. Stir together until all the mixture is well combined.
2. Put the mixture into the food processor and add the butter. Process until the butter is mixed in and it looks like crumbs.
3. If you have a dough blade for your processor change to it now.
4. Add the egg yolk and process again until the mixture all comes together in one ball. If it is slightly dry add the egg white.
5. Take the pastry out of the processor and wrap in cling film. Chill for around 15 minutes.
6. Once chilled pre-heat the oven to 180°C/Gas mark 4.
7. Flour your work surface well and roll out about ¾ of the pastry. Cut out 12 rounds – my cutter is 78mm.
8. Place each one in the bun and press down lightly.
9. Put a heaped teaspoon of mincemeat in each pastry case. Do not over fill as they will spread over the top of the cases whilst cooking.
10. Mix the leftovers of the pastry with the remaining pastry and roll out again.
11. Cut out the shaped tops and put on top of the mincemeat.
12. Bake for around 20 minutes until the pastry is golden.
13. Leave to cool slightly in the tin before removing and leaving to cool on a wire rack.

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