I absolutely love mince pies, but I’m really not a fan of the shop bought ones, they are too big and too sweet for my taste and just all the wrong texture. These Easy Peasy Mini Mince Pies are much smaller and made with a simple savoury pastry, which I think perfectly complements the sweetness of the mincemeat. They are quick and easy to make and so are ideal for making with children. I make these with my kids every year and they love helping. Plus their small size makes them more manageable for little mouths.
I really love Christmas traditions and one of my favourites is in mid December when we get our tree from a local Christmas tree farm. Each year one of the children gets to go and buy the tree with Daddy (there’s only enough room in the car for one child, as we usually get a massive tree), while the other child stays at home and makes mince pies with me. Then we all get involved with decorating the tree and eating the mince pies. For me it is the moment that really signals the start of Christmas.
You can of course make your own mincemeat, but for speed and simplicity I have used shop bought mincemeat in these mince pies. My favourite brand is Marks and Spencer’s Classic Mincemeat. I just love it and use it every year, so much so that I’m not sure I can bring myself to make my own mincemeat as it just wouldn’t taste the same (unless of course Marks and Spencer’s want to give me their recipe…??)
As I mentioned above, I make these mince pies with a very simple, classic savoury pastry which only has three ingredients: flour, butter and water. I love the rich buttery, flaky, melt in the mouth texture that you get – so much better than the stodgy over-sweet pastry you get on shop bought ones. I think the mincemeat has enough sweetness not to need extra sugar in the pastry, but if you have a sweeter tooth than me, try adding 100g of sugar to the mixture after you have rubbed the butter and sugar together.
I always rub the butter into the flour by hand. It’s really very easy and I actually enjoy doing it – it makes it feel proper somehow and of course my kids (aged 5 and 7) absolutely adore this part and do it with great glee and gusto (while I shout “keep the four in the bowl!!”). Seriously, if my kids can rub together butter and flour, anyone can do it! But you can of course make the pastry in a food processor, if you prefer. Just pop the flour and the cubed butter in your processor and pulse until it resembles breadcrumbs, then add the water drop by drop and pulse until it starts to come together, then take the pastry out of the processor and roll it into a ball by hand.
It is essential for this recipe that the pastry is that it’s rolled out thinly. As thin as you can make it. My trick to ensure the perfect thinness is to roll it out on my spotty tablecloth (the one that features in my photos!) until I can see the spots through the pastry, then I know that the pastry is thin enough.
I always top my mince pies with a little star, It feels more Christmassy than a full lid, plus I feel that it makes for a better pastry to mincemeat ratio, but these pies can obviously be made with any shape you choose on top, or a lattice or a proper top, though you will probably have to make a little more pastry if you want to give them a full lid, and don’t forget to make a snip in the top to let the steam escape.
The final touch for these mince pies, an absolute essential in our house, is a light sprinkling of icing sugar, which my children call “the snow” and which to me, just makes these super Christmassy.
These are my idea of the perfect mince pie, but I would love to know what you do with your mince pies. Do you do the traditional thing or something more unusual? What is your idea of a perfect mince pie?
- 350g plain flour (plus extra for dusting)
- 175g cold butter, cut into 1cm cubes (plus extra for greasing)
- A little cold water
- 500g mincemeat (I use Marks and Spencer Classic Mincemeat and usually have a little bit left over)
- A little milk
- 3 tablespoons icing sugar
- Grease the holes of 2 cupcake trays (24 holes in total), using a little butter on some greaseproof paper. Preheat your oven to 200C.
- Place the flour in the bowl (you can sieve it if you like but I never bother) and add the cubes of cold butter. Rub the butter and flour between your fingers (as if you are trying to rub the flour into the butter) until it resembles breadcrumbs.
- Stir in a tablespoon of cold water and stir in thoroughly. Add another tablespoon of cold water and stir in thoroughly. Repeat this process until the mixture just starts to come together. I usually find this happens after about 4 tablespoons but it does vary. Don’t add too much water!
- As soon as your pastry starts coming together, stop adding water and use your hands to squish the pastry together into a ball.
- Sprinkle your work surface with a little flour and pop your ball of pastry on top. Roll your pastry out as thin as it will go (it might be easier, depending on the size if your work surface, to split the pastry into two balls and do them one at a time)
- Using a circle shaped cutter, cut out 24 circles and place into the greased holes of you cupcake trays.
- Put a generous teaspoonful of mincemeat in the centre of each circle.
- Squish together the pastry, roll into a ball again and roll out thinly again. This time cut out 24 stars, using your star shaped cutter and place each star on top of the mincemeat, roughly in the centre (this is a bit hit and miss with children!) and press down slightly so the star sticks.
- Using a pastry brush, brush over a little milk (not strictly necessary, but it makes the mince pies go a more golden colour)
- Put mince pies in your preheated oven for 15-20 minutes, until the mincemeat is bubbling and the pastry is golden on top.
- Take your mince pies out of the cupcake tin and place them on a wire rack to cool – I find it easiest to lever the mince pies out with a dessert spoon – take care not to burn yourself as they will be super-hot!
- While the mince pies are still warm, put a couple of tablespoons of icing sugar into a sieve and dust the icing sugar over the mince pies. (You can use an icing sugar dredger if you prefer).
- The mince pies can be eaten warm or cold, on their own or with cream or custard.
- When the mince pies are completely cool they can be stored in a cake tin, or other air tight container…that is if there are any left!
2 cupcake trays (each with 12 holes)
Greaseproof paper or the butter wrapper
Circle shaped cutter, 8cm diameter (mine is fluted, but you can use a normal one if you prefer)
Star shaped cutter, 7cm from point to point
Wire cooling rack (or improvise with your grill rack or a roasting rack)
Cake tin for storing your mince pies when they’ve cooled down (if there are any left!)
I am linking this up to What Kids Eat Wednesday.