Mincemeat and mince pies have been part of British cookery for centuries and did originally contain meat, though now the only meat in the dish is in the beef suet.
These are a perfect restorative snack while decorating the tree. If you don’t have time to make your own mincemeat, very good versions are available in the shops.
- PREPARATION TIME: 40 mins plus chilling
- COOKING TIME: 20 – 25 mins
- MAKES: 12
FOR THE MINCEMEAT
225g (8oz) suet (you can use beef or vegetarian suet)
225g (8oz) Bramley apples, peeled, cored and chopped
125g (4½oz) candied peel, chopped
225g (8oz) sultanas
225g (8oz) raisins
225g (8oz) currants
175g (6oz) demerara sugar
1 tsp mixed spice
Zest and juice of 1 orange
60ml (2½ fl oz) Cognac
FOR THE PASTRY
225g (8oz) cold butter, diced, plus extra for greasing
350g (12oz) plain flour, plus extra for dusting
100g (3½oz) caster sugar
Pinch of salt
Grated zest and a squeeze of juice from ½ orange (optional)
1 egg, beaten
Icing sugar, for dusting
TO MAKE THE MINCEMEAT
§ Mix all the ingredients together in a large mixing bowl.
§ Spoon into sterilised jars (see page 308) and store in a cool dark place. It improves with age, but can be used straight away.
TO MAKE THE PIES
§ Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas mark 4.
§ To make the pastry, rub the butter into the flour, then mix in the caster sugar and a pinch of salt. Add the orange zest and juice, if using. I recommend you do – it adds an utterly delicious extra dimension!
§ Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured work surface and cut out twelve circles for the lids and twelve slightly larger circles for the bases of the pies. Place the bases in a greased twelve-hole Yorkshire pudding tray.
§ Spoon 280g (10oz) of the mincemeat into the pies. Top the pies with the lids, pressing the edges gently together to seal and run around the edge with the tines of a fork.
§ Brush the tops of the pies with the beaten egg, then bake in the oven for 20–25 minutes until golden. Leave to cool in the tin for 5 minutes, then remove from the tin and allow to cool on a wire rack.
§ Serve lightly dusted with icing sugar.