Hands up who has ever made their own mincemeat, or who even makes their own Christmas mince pies nowadays…
Why make your own mincemeat?
I started making mincemeat a few years ago because I found that the taste of shop bought was quite harsh, I also didn’t like the pieces of suet in a lot of mince meats – I felt it was unnecessary.
I did a bit of research and this is my go to basic recipe which I make every year. The quantities change according to how many people I’m making pies for and what I have to hand. It’s super easy & doesn’t take a lot of time or effort.
Making your own mixture…
The ingredients can be interchanged a bit, so if you don’t do nuts or hate mixed peel, just miss them out and add in a little of something else. I used apples and pears this year and a mixture of whisky and Marsala for alcohol. Next year I might use cranberries and up the orange rind for a change.
How far in advance can mincemeat be made?
The longer you can make this in advance, the more your mincemeat will mature and mellow flavours. The alcohol is the preservative here. I usually keep any leftovers in the fridge from one year to another (there is a limit as to how long you want to eat it after Christmas) without any problems.
When it comes to making the mince pies, it has become a family Christmas activity, symbolising the start of the festive period in our house with Christmas music, children negotiating with each other for the jobs they like best, rolling the pastry, cutting pastry rounds for the bun tins, filling the pies & putting the lids on.
What’s the best pastry to use?
I use standard, rich shortcrust pastry, made with 1/2 fat to flour & eggs to bind, it needs to be firm enough to keep it’s shape and not fall apart when the mince pie is bitten into.
Puff pastry is an option, but I find it can rise too much & puff the filling out of the pie, making a sticky mess to clean up and pies that are a bit short of filling.
I use a 9cm cutter, which gives a good depth of pie!
Lid or no lid?
I don’t always put a lid on a mince pie – if I’m making a large tart which will be cut into pieces, I’ll maybe do a lattice top. For individual pies, I tend to use a star or snowflake cutter and use either pastry or marzipan for the lid, this year I’m going to use a crumble top.
Batches of pies don’t last long, being scoffed for snacks, or as an after dinner treat. Some of them are given to friends as a festive present (the lucky ones)!
How will you make your mince pies?
Makes about 1Kilo
85g Mixed peel
85g Flaked almonds – toasted
3 Eating apples coarsely grated (not peeled)
170g Soft, dark brown sugar
110g Chopped apricots
1/2 tsp Grated nutmeg
1/2 tsp Ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp Ground allspice
Grated rind & juice of 1 orange & 1 lemon
150ml either brandy, rum, Cointreau or whisky
- Measure all of the ingredients except the alcohol into a large pan, bring slowly to the boil and simmer for a few minutes.
- Remove from the heat, allow to cool to blood heat.
- Stir in the alcohol, transfer to a tupperware box or sterilized jars and store.