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How to Make Traditional British Mince Pies

Christine, wife, mother, homemaker for over 40 years, has an NVQ3 in Childcare & Education, a diploma in Naturopathic Nutrition and TEFL.

Traditional mince pies

Traditional mince pies

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?

Mincemeat filling is made from a mixture of dried fruit, spices and brown sugar. It can be bought in jars from supermarkets or homemade.

Mincemeat filling is made from a mixture of dried fruit, spices and brown sugar. It can be bought in jars from supermarkets or homemade.

Prep Time: 20-30 mins

Cook Time: 15 mins

Total Time: 40 mins

Serves: 18-20

Ingredients

  • 400 g plain flour
  • 200 soft butter
  • 1 jar (about 1lb) mincemeat
  • 2 tablespoons milk or 1 egg, for the glaze

Instructions

  1. Pre-heat the oven to Gas 7 (220C).
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Repeat with the smaller half for the tops, reserving the cut-out rounds until after the next step.
  5. Fill each one with a spoonful of mincemeat.
  6. 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.
  7. Make a slit in the top of each to allow steam to escape.
  8. 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.
  9. Place immediately on the top shelf of a hot oven and bake for 15 minutes until just beginning to turn golden.
  10. 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!

Please rate this Christmas recipe

© 2013 Christine Hulme

I hope you enjoyed my mince pie recipe! You can leave your comments here.

Besarien from South Florida on March 28, 2015:

Hello Christine! Your pies look brilliant. I could be happy eating the picture. I am trying them in a tiny batch or five maybe either tomorrow or next Saturday probably. My crusts never get light and crispy but I'll do my best not to handle them like an impression of airport security and will try to keep my hands cold when I do have to touch them. I promise I won't blame you if mine are like hockey pucks. My pastry specialty that. Will come back and let you know how mine turn out either way. Am looking forward to reading your other recipes and hubs too.

GrammieOlivia on December 30, 2013:

These sound quite easy to make, I like that! I will give this recipe a go and see what happens in my Canadian oven.......here`s hoping they come out as nice as yours!

Giovanna from UK on December 30, 2013:

I love mince pies. This is a very good recipe, you're right about the wonderful aroma they make when they're cooking in the oven. Thanks for sharing and Happy New Year

Shelly Sellers from Midwest U.S.A. on December 13, 2013:

My Grandmother used to make Mince pies for Christmas and I really miss them!

somergreat48 on December 09, 2013:

I have always wanted to make these! Thank you for the recipe!

MaryRoseFitz on December 09, 2013:

I have always bought Christmas mince pies, but it sounds like they are particularly easy to make. Thanks for the information

jen17 lm on December 08, 2013:

Mince Pies are one of my favorites - thanks for the recipe!

seahorse60 on December 07, 2013:

It's not Christmas without mince pies!

flycatcherrr on December 06, 2013:

One of my all-time favourite seasonal treats!

Barbara Tremblay Cipak from Toronto, Canada on December 02, 2013:

I could really getting into snacking on these right now ...yum!

Susan Zutautas from Ontario, Canada on December 02, 2013:

I love mincemeat tarts and enjoy making them too.

Marie on December 02, 2013:

You can't beat mince pies at this time of year. These look so good.