In this recipe series, we bring you recipes by Julia Toon, culinary motivator and author of the book ‘Good Eating: A Taste of Qatar’. New recipes every week,
straight from Jules of the Kitchen.
Festive Mince Pies
At this time of the year there is nothing better than a home baked “sweet” mince pie, a very traditional morsel delicious with a cup of coffee or tea.
As with many British pastry bakes, there is always a story and for the mince pie its origins are very interesting.
The true ingredients of this 13th century delight, is quite different from the sugary delights we eat today. Originally they would include rabbit, pigeon, partridge, hare and pheasant, as well as the dried fruits and spices. The reason for this was to preserve the meat, which was always a challenge in those days, and so combining such meats with dried fruits and spices became another way to preserve, other than by salting or smoking. Due to the richness of the ingredients these Christmas Pye’s as they were called became fashionable amongst those who could afford the ingredients, and with the introduction of sugar heavily into the diet in the 18th Century, the Christmas Pye moved away from meat to just purely dried fruits with spices, and became the mince pie we love and cherish today.
These delicious festive delights are very much a part what makes this time of the year so special, and remember, it is always lucky to make a wish on the first mince pie of the season you eat.
Makes: 6 standard mince pies or 10/12 small mouthfuls – double up recipe for a decent
Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 20-30 minutes
Oven temperature : 170°C
Non stick individual tart baking tray/s
185g plain flour
90g cold butter, cubed
30g golden caster sugar
1 whole egg, beaten mixed with 1tbsp of cold water
Half x 411g jar of commercially prepared mincemeat
2tsp sherry – optional
Mix the flour and butter in a food processor or by hand i.e rubbing the flour and butter together with your fingertips, until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Now add the sugar, mix briefly and then add the egg and water. Mix until the dough just holds together. Shape into a round even ball, place in a plastic bag and chill in the fridge 10 minutes.
Assemble mince pies
Roll out pastry thinly. Using a pastry cutter, cut the bases to the mince pies and line.
Fill each mince pie with a tsp mincemeat, with or without the addition of the sherry.
Top each little tart with either a smaller circle of pastry or shape of choice (I often use a plain fluted cutter for the base of the tarts and top with a star shape).
Brush with beaten egg, a sprinkling of sugar (optional) and bake in oven until golden, approximately 25-30 minutes.
Best eaten warm but equally good cold, and always be careful if eaten too hot as these small tartlets can take the roof of your mouth when eaten straight out of the oven!
Dust with icing sugar before serving as they look then, so pretty and festive!
Jules’ tips: Best to always use non stick tart baking tray/s as these little darlings ooze mincemeat and can be very difficult to remove from the tin. Always allow to cool before attempting to remove from the tins, and I recommend to have a flat baking tin in the oven first, heating up and when hot then place the assembled mince pies tray on top for baking. This will speed up the cooking process of the pastry bases during cooking.
Contributed by: Julia Toon, Jules of the Kitchen
Click here for more recipes in this series.