Christine, wife, mother, homemaker for over 40 years, has an NVQ3 in Childcare & Education, a diploma in Naturopathic Nutrition and TEFL.
A Traditional Christmas Treat
When First Advent arrives, it's time to start baking mince pies—those delicious pastry tartlets filled with mincemeat, a soft mixture of cooked apple, dried fruit, spices and brown sugar
Families have been making and eating mince pies in the UK at this festive season for many years. Many a Father Christmas has found a mince pie with a glass of sherry at the bottom of the chimney on Christmas Eve, and they are sure to be handed out at Christmas parties, fayres and markets across the country! With the arrival of First Advent, it signifies the time to make my first batch.
A Family Tradition
I have been baking my own mince pies for many years. I even managed to keep them going whilst living in Germany, where we couldn't buy them in the shops as we could in the UK. I learned to bake them with my mother first and then carried on with my own children. I love the crisp, buttery pastry and the rich flavours of sweet fruit and spices in the filling.
The Art of the Pastry
Of course, the pastry improves with practice. At the beginning, it was best kept nice and thin as it wasn't exactly light and crispy as it is today. Over the years I have learned to add just the right amount of water so that I handle it as little as possible, but at the beginning it was a scene of sweaty hands covered in flour (too much of which kept getting added to the sticky dough in order to roll it out, but leaving it too hard!) If you feel it has been handled too much, you can always pop it in a bag or lidded container in the fridge to rest (but not dry out) for an hour, before continuing.
Adding the mincemeat was often left for the children to do, but using the right amount also comes with practice: too much and it leaks out of the pastry, creating a sticky mess in the tin and too little leaves everyone asking whether you ran out of mincemeat. The final touch of a glaze will give that attractive look to your mince pies,
But don't fiddle around too long. They will need to get into that hot oven as soon as possible!
I made my mince pies just as my family was arriving home. The aroma of them baking in the oven is always so welcoming and makes you feel that Christmas is on its way.
Now, where is the mulled wine?
Read More From Delishably
Prep Time: 20-30 mins
Cook Time: 15 mins
Total Time: 40 mins
- 400 g plain flour
- 200 soft butter
- 1 jar (about 1lb) mincemeat
- 2 tablespoons milk or 1 egg, for the glaze
- Pre-heat the oven to Gas 7 (220C).
- Cut the butter into small pieces and rub into the flour. When mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs, add enough cold water to make a soft, but not sticky dough that holds together.
- Cut the dough into two pieces, one half a little larger than the other. Roll out the larger piece and cut out 18-20 bases with a round, fluted cutter to fit bun tins. Check after the first one that it looks the right thickness, before continuing with the others.
- Repeat with the smaller half for the tops, reserving the cut-out rounds until after the next step.
- Fill each one with a spoonful of mincemeat.
- Dip your finger into cold water and gently run it around the top of each pastry base, before adding the tops and pressing them down gently to seal.
- Make a slit in the top of each to allow steam to escape.
- Brush the tops with the glaze: either a little milk or some beaten egg (just beat until uniform with a fork) or a mixture of both, beaten together.
- Place immediately on the top shelf of a hot oven and bake for 15 minutes until just beginning to turn golden.
- When cooked, take care of any leaked mincemeat (which can burn) and carefully release any that have done so before they stick to the tin. Leave the rest in the tin to cool or enjoy your mince pies warm from the oven!
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© 2013 Christine Hulme