I love mince pies – that tiny, tender tart that somehow manages to say its Christmas.
Surely this is the most famous sweet pie of all, with its crumbly butter pastry and filling of fruits, sugar, candied citrus peels and alcohol. The very best mince pies have pastry so fragile that it collapses in the palm of your hand.
To me, the little round tart dusted with icing sugar is the only one that really feels right. The pastry has to be a bit thicker, of course, to soak up the brandy butter or cream.
My recipe is very popular with a certain person who works at Pinnacle Walking Holidays with me.
INGREDIENTS FOR MINCE PIES
- 150g unsalted butter
- 300g plain flour
- 1 egg yolk
- a little cold water
- 375g good-quality mincemeat
- icing sugar for dusting
HOW TO MAKE MINCE PIES
- Cut the butter into small pieces and rub it into the flour with your fingertips until you have what looks like coarse, fresh breadcrumbs. If you do this in the food processor it will take a matter of seconds.
- Add the egg yolk, then mix briefly with just enough water to bring to a smooth dough. You will probably need just 1 or 2 tablespoons.
- Bring the dough together into a firm ball, then knead it gently on a floured board for a couple of minutes until it softens.
- Reserve half of the dough, then roll the remainder out thinly.
- Set the oven at 200°C/gas mark 6.
- Using cookie cutters or the top of an espresso cup, cut out 18 discs of pastry. (There may be a tiny bit left over.)
- Place 12 discs of the pastry in the tartlet tins, smoothing them up the sides so the edges stand very slightly proud of the tin.
- Fill each one with a dollop of mincemeat. A level tablespoon is probably all you will get into them, unless you have especially deep tins. Be generous.
- Roll out the remaining pastry and make a further 18 discs of pastry, reserving 6 of them for the second batch.
- Slightly dampen each of these round the edge with cold water then lay them over each tart and press firmly to seal the edges.
- Cut a small slit in the centre of each pie and bake for 20 minutes till golden.
- Let them calm down for a few minutes, then slide them out of their tins with a palette knife and serve warm, dusted with icing sugar.
- Repeat with the remaining pastry and mincemeat.