Mince Pies

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According to Wikipedia, a mince pie or also known as mincemeat pie is a traditional festive British sweet pastry, usually consumed during the Christmas and New Year period. Mince Pies normally have a pastry top, but versions may also be found without the top in which case they are known as a mince tart. Mince pies are filled with mincemeat – a preserve which typically contains apple, dried fruits such as raisins and sultanas, spices and either suet or vegetable shortening.

Before I set my eyes on mince pies, by the name, I thought they were savoury pies filled with meat or something. The fact that it uses mincemeat, doesn’t help but confuses me more. That’s how I concluded they were savoury pies. However, in the US, mincemeat is known with a more accurate name as ‘fruitmince’.

Why is it called mincemeat? I did some research on the internet and learnt that mince pies did contain meat. This goes as far back to Victorian era where mince pies contained actual meat along with spices and fruits. It was a way of preserving meat by mixing it with fruit, spices and alcohol. The only remnants of the meat in today’s mince pies is the inclusion of suet in the filling. So, now I understand why! 🙂

As Christmas is approaching, I thought I would share this typical British sweet pastry with you all. Below is the recipe of mince pies from Gordon Ramsay. Happy baking!

 

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Mince Pies

Yield: 12

Ingredients:

For the shortcrust pastry:
200g plain flour
a pinch of salt
100g butter
2-3 tbsp water

For the mince pies:
540g mincemeat
zest of 1 orange
2 tbsp brandy
a pinch of cinnamon
50ml milk
1 egg, beaten
icing sugar, for sprinkling
vegetable oil or butter for greasing tin

Method:

For the shortcrust pastry:

1. Make sure your butter is at room temperature to make it easier to work with.

2. Sieve the flour and salt into a large mixing bowl. Cut the butter into small cubes and add to the flour.

3. Using your fingertips, rub the fat into the flour, lifting the mixture up and dropping it back into the bowl – you want to keep the mixture light and airy. Keep going until all the fat is mixed with the flour and has reached a texture that resembles fine breadcrumbs.

4. Sprinkle a little cold water into the bowl and mix through with a knife. Use your fingers to bring the pastry together: it’s ready when and the sides of the bowl are clean and it’s formed a solid ball. You shouldn’t need to add much more than a tablespoon of water so be careful not to overdo it.

5.Cover the bowl with cling film and leave the pastry to rest in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.

For the mince pies:

1. Heat the oven to 220C/400F/Gas 6. Mix your jar of mincemeat together with the orange zest, brandy and cinnamon.

2. Lightly grease your patty tins (or small fluted tins) with a small amount of vegetable oil, or any butter.

3. Flour your work surface and roll out the pastry as thinly as possible. Cut out approximately 12 rounds with a pastry cutter (most pastry cutters have two sides, one with a greater diameter than the other, use the larger side for the base and the smaller for the lids) and place them in the base of your patty-tins (or small fluted tins).

4. Prick all the pie bases with a fork to stop them rising. Fill each case with about 3 teaspoons of the mincemeat mix – don’t overfill your cases or the mixture will leak through the pastry when cooking. Brush the pie edges with a little milk. Stamp out another 12 rounds, using the larger end of your cutter, for the lids and place over the mincemeat mix.

5. Pinch the pie edges together to seal. Brush over with egg wash and pierce the tops with a fork. Bake in the oven for approx 20 minutes until golden brown. Remove from the oven and allow to rest for 1 minute before placing on a wire rack to cool.

6. Serve warm with a light sifting of icing sugar on top.