What’s the important thing, pastry or filling? Yes you can make the mincemeat but I am a big fan of using good products if you can buy it so I normally use shop bought mincemeat. However the only thing I dont use is shop bought pastry, apart from puff pastry that is. So how do you make the perfect pastry for mince pies? I prefer a sweet pastry although you can always use a regular shortcrust or even puff pastry if you prefer. The sweet pastry I use is made with icing sugar, ground almonds and lots of vanilla. It is also enriched with egg yolk, it really is a delicious pastry perfect for mince pies.
Homemade Mince Pies – makes about 30
550g Plain Flour
50g ground almonds
100g icing sugar
pinch of salt
350g unsalted butter, cold
2 egg yolks
2 tbsp ice cold water
seeds from 1 vanilla pod or 1 tsp vanilla bean paste
I make my pastry in a food processor as I think it is a great tool to make deliciously short pastry and it also helps if you have warm hands. Place the flour, almonds, icing sugar and salt in the bowl of the food processor and pulse to evenly combine.
Add the butter and pulse until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs, a few larger sized pieces of butter is fine. Add the egg yolks, water and vanilla and pulse in the processor until combined. A lot of recipes say pulse until the pastry forms a ball but I think this can overwork the pastry. Tip the mixture out onto the work surface and bring together and knead lightly until the mixture forms a uniform mixture. When you tip out the mixture it will look like breadcrumbs but trust me there is enough moisture from the egg/water mix and the butter to form the pastry so don’t be tempted to add extra water unless it really needs it.
Divide the pastry in two and form into flat discs and wrap in clingfilm and refrigerate for 30 mins.
For my mincepies I add a piece of homemade almond paste in the bottom before adding the mincemeat. It is something my mum has done for years and it works so well, please try it. NOTE – this almond paste recipe makes a lot probably double what you need so you can always halve the reicpe.
Homemade Almond Paste
350g ground almonds
175g icing sugar
175g caster sugar
1 large egg
1 egg white, from a large egg
1 tsp almond extract (or to taste)
1 tbsp rum
This is a really good recipe for kids to get involved as basically the method is add all the ingredients into a bowl and smush it all together until evenly combined. Wrap in clingfilm and refrigerate until needed.
To make the mincepies you need roughly two jars of mincemeat (if you use the almond paste you wont use it all but if you leave the almond paste out you should have just enough with two jars)
Preheat the oven to 200C. Take the chilled pastry and roll out nice and thin. Cut out enough rounds to fit the bases of your tin them cut out the tops, you will need to re-roll the scraps to get enough lids. Use a knife to cut a slit in the centre of the lids (this will help them stop bursting during baking) and lightly grease the tins. To assemble gently press the base rounds into the tins, place a small nugget of almond paste on the base of the pie and top with mincemeat. Brush the underside of the lid with a little milk and place onto the pie and gently press the edges together to seal. Brush the pies with a little milk and bake in the preheated oven for 15-20 mins or until the mincepies are golden. Allow to cool down a while before removing and cooling down completely on a wire rack.