I couldn’t resist the awful pun, but Santa Clauds really has arrived, with a sack load of mince pies. Homemade mince pies are infinitely better than the bought variety. Once you’ve cracked the pastry they couldn’t be simpler and you’ll never resort back to the cardboard, overly sweet supermarket offerings. I tend to add orange zest to my pastry and use the juice (instead of water or egg) to combine the ingredients.
For those who panic at the sheer mention of pastry, follow these very simple rules:
- Make sure the butter and water (if using) is cold
- Don’t over knead.
- Don’t add too much liquid.
- ‘Cold hands warm heart’ is what a good pastry chef requires. The cooler it stays and the less you mess about with it the better it will be.
- 500g plain flour,
- 175g icing sugar
- 375g cold butter, diced
- zest and juice 1 large orange
- 500g mincemeat
- 1 egg, beaten
- Heat oven to 190C/170C fan/gas 5. In a large bowl sift the flour and icing sugar. Add the butter and starting with a knife cut up the butter into small pieces. Then, using the tips of your fingers rub in the butter until it resembles fine breadcrumbs. Add the orange zest and a couple of tablespoons of orange juice. Bring the pastry together using your hands, adding more juice if required until it all comes together into a ball. (Note you do not want a wet/soggy pastry so be sparing when adding the juice)
- Tip onto a floured surface, knead briefly until smooth. Wrap in Clingfilm and chill in the fridge for 30 mins or until firm.
- Dust the surface with flour, then roll out the pastry (don’t make it too thick otherwise you’ll just have a mouthful of pastry). Depending on the size of your tin, cut out 12 large fluted rounds and 12 smaller ones. Lightly grease your tin and press the 12 large circles into the tin. Spoon in about 1 tsp of mincemeat into the case and then top with the smaller circle. Do not over fill the case with mincemeat otherwise it will over flow and look a mess.
- Brush the tops with the egg and bake for 15-20 mins until golden and crisp. Cool for a few minutes before transferring onto a wire rack.
Directions for use: Best served warm with a bit of brandy butter. Try not to get too carried away and make sure there are some left for Santa Claus/Clauds.