Aunt Mimi’s Mince Pies

With the festive season in full swing, why not turn your hand to making your own mince pies. Of course you can buy good mincemeat – but homemade is what makes the pies special.

Here we share a traditional Bamford Family recipe from A Love For Food.

Carole Bamford’s top tips:

  • You will need to leave the mincemeat to marinate in an airtight container for at least a week, but it can keep for up to 1 month.
  • Using lard in the pastry gives it a crisper finish but you can substitute it for butter, increasing the total butter quantity to 100g, if you prefer.
  • If you can find individual candied orange and lemon peel, then use a ratio of two-thirds orange to one-third lemon, as this makes the mincemeat more floral than sharp.
  • Any leftover pastry can be used to make a couple more pies or wrap, label and freeze it for future use.

Makes 24

For the mincemeat

115g sultanas
115g raisins
70g currants
2 tablespoons flaked
almonds
2 tablespoons dried cherries 115g crystallised ginger
35g mixed candied peel (see above)
500g grated Bramley apples (about 3)
85g soft light brown sugar
4 tablespoons Cognac
zest of 3 lemons
zest of 3 oranges
a pinch of mixed spice
a pinch of ground nutmeg
70g lard, grated, or suet
a pinch of sea salt

For the pastry

800g plain flour
280g cold butter, grated, plus a little extra for greasing
120g cold lard, grated
200g caster sugar
a pinch of salt
12 egg yolks, plus 1 egg, beaten, for glazing (optional)

To make the mincemeat, mix together all the ingredients and allow to marinate in a lidded, airtight container in the fridge for 1 week.

Lightly butter two 12-hole tart trays.

Put the flour, butter and lard into a bowl, and rub with your fingertips until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Stir in the sugar and salt, then gradually add the egg yolks until combined and the mixture comes together in a dough. Form into a ball, wrap in clingfilm, and chill in the fridge for at least 1 hour before using. This is very short, crumbly pastry, so it needs this quite long chilling time to firm up and make it easier to roll.

Lightly flour your work surface. Cut the ball of dough in half, and keep the second ball in the fridge while you roll out the first one to about 4mm thick. Using a plain round cutter, 6.5cm in diameter, cut out 24 circles and press into the tart trays – take the time to do this gently and carefully, so that the pastry doesn’t crack. Spoon 1 full tablespoon of mincemeat into each tart, making sure it domes slightly in the centre.

Roll out the remaining pastry, and cut out as above. Gently lay a circle of pastry over the top of each mincemeat-topped base and gently crimp the edges together all the way round, to seal. Brush with a little beaten egg if you like, then insert the tip of a knife into the middle of each pastry top, to make a tiny slit for steam to escape. Put the tins into the fridge to rest again for an hour.

When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 170°C/gas 3.

Remove the trays from the fridge and bake in the preheated oven for 20 minutes, until the pastry is golden brown. Take out of the oven and leave to cool in the trays before removing.

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