A scrumptious variation on a Christmas favourite. The mince pie’s ingredients are traceable to the 13th century, when returning European Crusaders brought with them Middle Eastern recipes containing meats, fruits and spices. The tradition of eating Christmas pie in December continued through to the Victorian era, although by then its recipe had become sweeter and its size reduced markedly from the large oblong shape once observed. Today the mince pie remains a popular seasonal treat enjoyed by many across the United Kingdom.
This recipe makes up to 50 pies (you may wish to reduce quantities accordingly, but once you’ve tasted the result you’ll wish you made the full amount).
Makes: 50 mince pies
1kg chopped pears
500g chopped apple
250g dried cranberries
250g chopped almonds
chopped rind and juice of 1 orange
1 teaspoon grated nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
500g caster sugar
150ml thickened cream
1 pinch sea salt
680g plain flour
1 pinch salt
400g cold unsalted butter
4 tablespoons caster sugar
4 large egg yolks
1 to 2 tablespoons cold water
beaten egg yolk, to glaze
icing sugar, as needed for dusting
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Mincemeat: Mix all ingredients in a bowl and allow to steep overnight.
The next day place into a saucepan over a medium heat and bring up to a simmer, until most of the liquid has been evaporated then remove from the heat and leave to cool completely, about 30 minutes.
Caramel: Place butter and sugar into a heavy bottomed saucepan over a medium heat. Stir occasionally until the sugar is melted and then leave to simmer until the mixture turns a warm golden colour and a drop put into a glass of cold water forms immediately into a firm ball. Remove from the heat and slowly pour in the cream and add a pinch of salt while beating with a spoon. Allow to cool.
Shortcrust Pastry: Sift flour and a pinch of salt into a bowl. Rub in butter until you have a crumble-like mixture.
Stir in caster sugar, then add egg yolk and mix quickly with a knife. Add the water, a little at a time, mixing with the knife until the mixture is drawn together into a dough. Press into a ball, then wrap in plastic wrap and chill for at least 10 minutes before using.
Preheat the oven to 170 degrees C.
Turn the pastry out onto a lightly floured work surface then roll out to 3mm thick and cut out rounds to fit into the bottom of a muffin tin or other suitable mould.
Put a dollop of cooled caramel into the bottom of each pie case and top up with pear mince mixture. Cover with a lid of pastry, cut to size, and crimp around the edge to create a good seal. Brush with beaten egg to glaze.
Bake for 15 to 20 minutes. Check they are done by removing and inspecting the bottom, it should be golden and crisp.
Remove from the oven and remove the pies from baking tins and allow to cool on a wire rack. To serve, dust with icing sugar.