Mince pies with ginger pastry and orange almond pastry

Mince pie recipe
Homemade mince pies

Mince pies are Christmas. All that spicy, fruity, boozy goodness bubbling away in a golden pastry case. They are fun to make and everybody can get help out spooning in the mincemeat and messing around with icing sugar.  But I have a couple of confessions to make:

Confession number 1: I’m scared of pastry. Making it, that is. Not eating it. I love eating it. But I haven’t done a lot of making pastry and so I worry that I can’t do it.

Confession number 2: The first time I made mince pies from scratch was last year, with much encouragement from A. (read: A. made mince pies and I spooned mincemeat into my mouth and snaffled pinches of pastry).

So this Christmas, I returned to the kitchen counter armed with cubed cold butter, some flour and a load of grit and determination. And it paid off. A. and I made some beautiful mince pies. I still found the pastry a bit of a challenge – worrying about it getting warm, worrying about the uneven thickness, worrying about pressing it down into the tartlet holes, worrying that it would taste bad and look worse. But I didn’t really need to worry. The mince pies taste fantastic, there’s not a soggy bottom in sight and we had fun making them. We listened to Christmas music, we ate a lot of mincemeat and I had a wonderful time flavouring the pastries and playing with my cookie cutters and a shower of icing sugar. So I think it’s cool. Mince pie making isn’t an exact science. Just have a go and enjoy it.

Ingredients (makes about 16 mince pies)

  • About 450g mincemeat (not that I’m biased but my recipe is delicious)
  • Icing sugar for dusting

For the ginger pastry

  • 75g white plain flour
  • 75g wholemeal flour
  • 5 tsp ground ginger
  • 75g cold butter – cut into cubes
  • ½ beaten egg
  • Juice of one orange as needed

For the orange almond pastry

  • 50g white plain flour
  • 50g wholemeal flour
  • 50g ground almonds
  • 75g cold butter – cut into cubes
  • ½ beaten egg
  • Cold water as needed

Method

  1. Pop the flours, ground almonds (if using) or ginger (if using) into a bowl. Rub in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs in the case of the ginger pastry or big flakes if it’s the orange almond pastry.
  2. Add the beaten egg and mix.
  3. Add enough cold water or orange juice (if using) to bring the mixture together into a smooth dough. I found that the orange almond pastry was much wetter at this stage than the ginger.
  4. Bring the dough into a rough ball. Wrap in cling-film and chill in the fridge for a while. I chilled mine overnight but a minimum of 30 minutes should do the trick.
  5. When you’re ready to make the mince pies, lightly grease a 12-hole tartlet tray (where each hole measures 6cm across x 2cm deep) and pre-heat the oven to 200°C/400°F/gas mark 6.
  6. Roll out the pastry dough until it’s fairly thin and evenish. To make this less daunting, I cut sections from the main block of pastry and only rolled out a little at a time. I recommend at least dividing each pastry into two before beginning to roll. I place the pastry between the two leaves of large piece of folded greaseproof paper to avoid all the flour faff. It works pretty well.
  7. Using a fluted circular cookie cutter (the one I used has a diameter of 7.5cm), cut out discs of pastry.
  8. Carefully press the discs into the prepared tart tin and fill each pie with a teaspoon or so of mincemeat.
  9. Roll out the next section of dough and, using a slightly smaller cutter (diameter of 6cm), cut out the tops for the pies. Use shaped cutters to cut-out festive designs if you fancy (I’d thoroughly recommend that you do). You can then use the cut-out shapes to decorate other pies.
  10. Place the tops on the pies, sealing the tops and bases as you go. As you can see from my photograph, I wasn’t particularly strict about sealing, but there is a risk that mincemeat will be visible at the sides. On balance, probably not a huge deal unless you’re entering a competition.
  11. If your pies have full tops, give them a couple of pricks with a skewer.
  12. Continue this process until the tartlet tin is full and then pop it in the oven for 20 minutes until golden brown.
  13. Leave the pies for a few minutes before removing them from the tin and dusting with icing sugar.
  14. Repeat this pastry with the remaining pastry and mincemeat. The pies will keep in an airtight tin or container for about a week before going soft.
Homemade mince pie recipe
Mince pies with homemade mince meat and plenty of icing sugar
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