food

Christmas Basics: Making Mince Pies

As a child I was oblivious to the fact that a lot of families don’t bake. I assumed that everyone knew how to make scones, pastry, brown bread, crumble, quiche and buns. My mother, grandmother and aunts all did. By the time I was ten, even I could make them – no scales, cookbook or mixer required.
When it came to going to secondary school I couldn’t believe that there was such a subject as home economics. Did people really have to learn how to write a shopping list or make macaroni cheese? For six weeks I had to take a course of home ec. There was no choice. We all had to try it. Coming up to Christmas, we were instructed in how to make mince pies. We didn’t learn how to make mince meat. Just pastry. Again, I was astounded  that this needed to be taught.
The memory was more or less forgotten until a couple of years ago when a friend asked me to show her how to make mince pies. She had a notion it was complicated. It is not. In the space of ten minutes and with the help of some Whats App photos and messages, I showed her how to do it.
Here’s my step by step guide.
Pastry ingredients for approx. 18 mince pies
225g plain flour
150g butter, straight from the fridge
A little water, as cold as possible

Place the flour into a mixing bowl. Chop the butter into cubes and add to the flour.

If you are using a mixer, use the pastry paddle and switch the mixer onto low speed until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Increase the speed and add the water a few drops at a time until the mixture just comes together to a ball of dough. It should not to tacky or wet.

 

If you are making the pastry by hand, rub the butter into the flour quickly between your fingers. Ideally your hands should be cold. The butter should melt in the oven, not in the rubbing process. Once themixture resembles fine breadcrumbs, use a knife to mix in the water a little splash at a time until the mixture comes together to a ball.

Wrap the pastry in clingfilm and place in the fridge for half an hour.

Pre-heat the oven to 200°C.

Remove the pastry from the fridge and divide it in half. Roll out one half to approx. 1 cm in thickness. Cut out circles using a scone cutter or a drinking glass. Place the circles into a bun tin / muffin tin.

Roll out the other half of the pastry and cut out slightly smaller circles for the lids.

Take the mincemeat you are using (bought or homemade) and place a teaspoonful of mincemeat into each of the pastry cases in the tin. Press a pastry lid firmly down on top of each.

 

 

Brush the top of each mince pie with beaten egg or some milk. This will give them a nice shine. If you plan to sieve icing sugar over the mince pies, you needn’t glaze them before baking.

Pop the mince pies into the hot oven and bake until golden brown, approx. 25 minutes.

 

You are going to wait to launch right in and eat one (or four) but don’t. Give them a agood 15 minutes to cool. Otherwise you’ll seriously burn your tongue and won’t be able to enjoy anything you eat over Christmas. Trust me on this.

Distract yourself by making a cuppa and tidying up. Then make a fresh pot of tea, sit down and take that first bit you’ve been longing for. Deeelicious! You’ll never buy a mince pie again.

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