Mince Pies

I don’t think there is anything that feels like
and reminds me more of Christmas, than the wonderful warm spicy aroma of mince
pies baking in the oven.
The smell blends perfectly with those cold, crisp, darkening Winter afternoons.
I am breaking with all convention now in
not using half fat and half margarine or plain flour to make pastry, I’m giving you a recipe that I know works
well.
Mince pies are made this way by Steve’s
Mum and my Mum and also traditionally by many other Mums for countless generations.

This recipe produces approx 24 mince pies.

Ingredients

You will need:

  • 1 and a quarter lb, 560 g, (just over 1small jar, mincemeat
  • 12 oz, 350 g, self-raising flour
  • 6 oz, 175 g, lard
  • or a solid vegetable fat such as cookeen, trex or flora
  • A very small pinch of salt
  • Several tablespoons of cold water to make the pastry
  • A little milk to glaze the top of the pies before they go into the oven
  • Some sifted Icing sugar to decorate the finished pies

You will also need.

Two trays that have 12 round sections, measuring approx 2 and a half inches (or 6 cm) in diameter, in other words, deep, patty tins,
one 3 inch (7.5 cm) fluted pastry cutter to
make the circles to line the patty tins, and one fluted 2 and a half inch (6
cm) fluted cutter for the pie lids.

Method

Pre-heat the oven to gas mark 6, 400 F, 200C, 180 fan).
Make the pastry by sifting the flour and salt into a large mixing bowl. Then breaking
up the lard or fat and rubbing it into the flour with your fingertips until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs.
Then add just enough cold water to bring the dough into a ball with a round bladed knife, and make a soft pastry that leaves
the bowl clean.
Knead the dough slightly on a lightly floured worktop before leaving it to rest in a
polythene bag in the refrigerator for about half an hour, which will make it
easier to work with.
Lightly grease your patty tins with a little extra fat.
Now, flour your worktop, divide your dough in half and roll one piece
out fairly thinly, and, using the larger cutter, make 24 circles, by pressing straight down
firmly through the pastry, but not twisting it, or you may distort the shape of
your circle and break it.

Gather up what’s left of the dough and re-roll it and cut out again.
Then do the same with the other half of the pastry, but this time make your circles with the smaller cutter.

Next, spread out 1 heaped teaspoon of mincemeat into each pie shell in your tins, bringing it almost level with the top of the pastry.
Slightly dampen the edges of the smaller rounds of pastry with
water and press them lightly into position to form the pie lids, sealing the pastry
edges together between finger and thumb.
Prick the top of each pie with a fork, then
brush with a little milk to glaze.

Baking

Bake near the top of the pre-heated oven for 25 to 30 minutes, could be less for a fan oven, or until your mince pies are a light golden brown and firm to the
touch.
Leave the pies to cool in the tins for a few minutes before transferring to a wire cooling rack.
When they are completely cold, put them on a plate and sprinkle lightly with sifted icing sugar.
Store your delicious mince pies, if there are any left by this time, in an airtight container, where they will
keep for several days.

My greetings come to you for this festive season.