Mince Pies, Redux

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Mince Pies, Redux

Serves: Makes approximately 24 shallow-filled pies
Approx cost: €0.85 (if using home-made Mincemeat)
Approx calories (per pie): ~180
Approx preparation and cooking time: ~40 minutes

Welcome to Wednesday everyone – three days until the weekend and you know what that means? Three days until Christmas (and my vacation! – For those of you who’ve been paying attention, I did say that I would post the mince pies later, *during* my vacation, but have instead decided to roll them out today)! I’m not a religious person but I love Christmas for all the good things it represents – giving, love, family, happiness and joy – and it’s in winter to boot, so it’s always warm and cozy. I don’t think I could adapt well to Christmas in somewhere like Australia very well. The idea of a “Christmas barbecue” just doesn’t really much attraction for me, I have to say :p I can still remember celebrating  this time of year when I was much younger – a good 20 years ago or so. I’d go shopping with my father to a nearby city to go Christmas shopping where I’d pick out the gift for my mother. Usually I ended up getting the same things for her each year because she said she liked it so much (and if she didn’t, she sure hid it well!)

For a bit of post-shopping sustenance we’d go to a tea-room. It was in a very old building with wooden beams everywhere. I remember I usually got a soda and amused myself by dropping sugar cubes into it and watching it froth up (ah, how much sugar I must have drunk!), maybe some hot buttered toast and then I could usually pick out a cake from a little trolley they brought around to your table. After this we often went downstairs to the small coffee shop (selling coffee beans, not the ready-made to drink) and my father would get some of his favourite and a “chocolate elephant” for me. It was some sort of elephant-shaped chocolate, with a praliné centre I think. Sadly, neither the tea-room, nor the coffee shop exist any more – tea-rooms like those are becoming somewhat a thing of the past in England which is a real shame. Sure – cafés and coffee-shops, especially chains, aren’t going anywhere, but the kind of place with frilly lace tablecloths, china teacups, cakes made on the premises all served up by a little old lady, known by everyone in town is suffering in these economic times. Just recently in my parents’ home town once such tearoom closed its doors for the last time. It seems that people want their double decaf, half 5%, half soy, frappawappamappalappaccino, and to go these days, instead :(

Mince Pies

In any case – go into any English place serving any kind of hot drink around Christmas time and you’re almost guaranteed to be able to find, and procure, one of these. Mince Pies! No, that’s using mincemeat, not real meat. Remember? I posted about it just the other day! Pretty much an English staple during the festive season, it’s basically a shortcrust pastry shell, containing a big spoonful of wonderful spiced fruit. Baked until golden and dusted with snowy icing sugar, few things can be so simple, and yet so good. It’s incredible how people manage to mess these up so badly – There’s always some TV chef deciding that these are “tired” and need reinventing so they do all manner of revolting things to the poor pies. I say: keep the mince pie as it is! Why mess with perfection?

I’ve blogged about these before, last year in fact, right here, but felt these deserved a second outing, especially since I had my own mincemeat to put to use! Hope you have a chance to try some and enjoy! See you all tomorrow :)

Ingredients

Mince Pie ingredients

  • 340g Plain Flour
  • 85g Butter
  • 85g Vegetable Shortening or Baking Margarine
  • ~4 tbsps Milk + ~4 tbsps Milk for glazing
  • Mincemeat

Instructions

  1. Start by pre-heating your oven to ~190 degrees Celsius, and then cut the butter and shortening into cubes. Add into a large bowl with the flour. Combine with your fingertips for a few minutes until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. I find the best way of doing this is to grab two large handfuls of flour and fat, press them together and rub it between your palms/fingers until it’s it’s all dropped back into the bowl and then start again.
    Mixing the flour and fat
  2. Once you reach the “breadcrumbs” stage, add the milk, a little bit at a time, mixing well in between each addition until you have a manageable dough which is still a bit crumbly but forms a good ball if pressed together. Transfer about half of the pastry to a well floured surface and start to roll out. Roll it a couple of times, and then rotate the pastry 90 degrees to ensure no sticking and even rolling. Continue rolling until the pastry is about 4mm thick. Assuming your mince pie tin has twelve slots, you’ll need one pastry cutter which is a little larger and another cutter which is slightly smaller than the slot itself. Cut twelve of the larger sizes and press the pastry discs gently into the slots, being sure to push into the corners. Place a heaped teaspoonful of Mincemeat into pastry cases and then cut 12 discs using the smaller cutter – re-rolling where necessary – and press the pastry circles gently onto the top of the mincemeat-filled cases.
    Lining the tins
  3. Brush the tops of the pies with the milk for the glaze and place into the pre-heated oven for about 15 minutes, or until starting to turn a golden brown on top. Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the tin for a few minutes before popping out onto a wire rack to cool using a knife. Repeat the process for as long as you have pastry remaining.
    Baked minced pies
  4. Enjoy as they are cool, or warm them gently in the oven before serving. They make an excellent accompaniment to tea, coffee, a dessert, or just a snack. Dust with icing sugar for best results and serve with cream!
    Mince Pies



    Mince Pies

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32 Comments

  1. I'll have one of those frappawappamappalappaccinos, please … if I can even pronounce it without getting my tongue twisted! LOL!! How on earth did you come up with that?!

    The mince pies are adorable! And I see you've got the powdered sugar nicely on them and not on the carpet :D

    Well, Charles, if I don't surface for some air after this, I just want to wish you and wifey A Very Yummy Christmas, Happy 2012 and a Great Vacation!

    Reply
    • Haha – I just made that up Ping – It seems like coffees in stores seem to have increasingly "trendy", long names. What ever happened to simple "black filter coffee". In this instance, indeed – the sugar went on the pies, not on the floor :D Have a great holiday season Ping :)

      Reply
  2. Charles, you were absolutely right to post about these once more. They look terrific and after reading your story I can very well imagine them in an old-fashioned English café, beside a cup of tea served in traditional English china… I think it's not only the economic or practical side, but a stupid need of novelty, a new fashionable way of living (preferably similar to the one seen in American films) that pushes people to go to chain places. After several years they are surprised such places close. The other day I heard traditional tea serving places are in fashion again (at least in big cities) in the UK, so I hope people will slowly go back to the old habits.

    Beautiful, nostalgic, very Christmasy post! Merry Christmas, Charles!

    Reply
    • The tea-room culture is alive and well in Sweden at least – although they're more "coffee shops" because tea is a very English thing I find. Sweden consumes, I think, the most coffee in the world out of everyone, with the exception of Finland, and for a country with only 10 million people, that's a helluva lot of coffee. There is a place or two in the town I will go to which is just lovely – I hope it will be open… and that I can get some photos… when I'm there so I can show you :)

      Reply
  3. What attractive little pies! I bet they're just as tasty. :)

    Reply
    • Thanks A_Boleyn – that reminds me, I'm all out and need to make some more since Christmas is right around the corner now! :)

      Reply
      • I’ve been revisiting several posts and am firmly committed to making mincemeat pies and eccles cakes by Christmas if I can. Right now I’m doing no cooking with the heat but living on what I’ve already made and squirreled away. And lots of ice cream ‘drumsticks’ or filled cones. :)

        Reply
        • Eccles cakes especially, mm – I had someone leave a comment on my YouTube eccles cakes video recently, giving them a seal of approval, so I recommend them! Maybe leave it until Autumn though :D

  4. You know how I feel about pie making…LOVE it! And these might just be the cutest little pies I have ever seen. I may just have to embrace my English heritage this year and whip some of these up. So darn cute! And I love the dusting of powdered sugar. :) I love the memory of you shopping with your dad at the holidays. So sweet. And it is a shame those tea and coffee shops are disappearing. I would love to visit one someday. Only a few more days for you…I just got an email from a friend who was in England last week and flew over Sweden. Do they really only get an hour or two of daylight this time of year? Wow!

    Reply
    • You totally should – your kids could have great fun whipping up a batch of these! Really fun stuff :)

      Sweden is indeed pretty dark right now. It gets properly light around 11-ish, there's about 2-3 hours of light and then it's getting dark again by ~3. The benefit of that is though that Swedish people love light. In France, walking down any street after dark, it's horrible – people close their shutters to shut out the outside world. Perish the thought that they "share" their light with other people. It's dark, cold, anti-social, but in Sweden people really make a point of lighting things up – showing lights in their windows when it's dark. It makes everything seem really cheerful. It's something so common that over many windows there is a special "small" plug where you can hang small electrical ornaments – usually a small, low-power bulb with a little shade on it which just hangs in the window :)

      Reply
      • Now you really have me looking forward to your pictures. Some of your night scenes of Paris are my favorites. I can only imagine a quaint Swedish town all lit up at night. :) Can't wait!

        Reply
        • Ha, I will endeavour to deliver! I'm going to buy a little tripod when I'm there – don't want to lug my heavy metal one over on the plane… it weighs like 5 kilos – so this time hopefully I'll be able to take some night shots :)

  5. Your pies are so neat that they look like machine made. I'm so envious how tidy and neat you are! If it was me, these pies would be a little more uneven and messy. Your meat pies look so good! I now need to check your mince meat!

    Reply
    • Ahaha, now that’s just flattery! I’ve seen your dorayaki recipe. Have you any idea how perfect your version looked compared to the ones I bought from the japanese store? So, so, SO much better!

      You should definitely try the pies though… they’re really yummy… although maybe that’s just the Brit in me speaking!

      Reply
  6. Yay for mince pies! And a very happy holiday to you and yours Charles.

    Reply
    • Thanks Kelly! Will you be going away anywhere? I hope you don't have too much stressful stuff planned :)

      Reply
  7. Beautiful little pastries, Charles. I cannot believe how quickly this year has past. I love Christmas for the same reasons you do, family, food and friends! The little tea shop sounds fantastic, it's a real shame they don't exit any longer. Budapest still has a number of their old coffee houses…they've managed to sustain themselves even with the 'chains'. We have a chain in Canada (and some states) that is called Tim Hortons…I cannot understand its following, they serve plain, ordinary coffee (at least Starbucks serves fancy shmancy coffee). Mind you, Starbucks you have to remortgage your home to have a tall!

    I am very fortunate that my company shuts down between Christmas and New Years so I don't even have to take the time as holidays YAY!

    Reply
    • Hi Eva – I love little coffee shops. To be honest, unless the coffee was really bad, I'd always choose a small place over a chain. They have so much character. It's actually my dream to one day run my own coffee shop :) – I'd love to make it cozy and give it personality. Starbucks, I have to say I am partial to them sometimes, but yeah – my God it's expensive. I always get extra shots because otherwise it's like drinking a giant bucket of hot milk with a few drips of coffee flavouring inside, and luckily for my wallet, I can't drink the "venti" size anymore (like a swimming pool!) but one of those, with my extra syrup and shots… it's like €7! For a cup of coffee!

      Reply
  8. Looks very nice, I've never had mincemeat ever! :)

    Reply
    • Thanks Jen – some people are dubious about it – you should give it a try… you may well be surprised :)

      Reply
  9. Charles,

    Merry Christmas to you! and what a lovely childhood memory of going Christmas shopping for your Mom. These are the kind of precious thoughts that make Holiday Season so special, along with those yummily tempting pince pies. Looking forward to all your Xmas recipes!!

    Reply
    • Thanks Malli :) How times change though – since I live so far away, and it's so busy all the time around Christmas – Amazon is usually my "destination" of choice for Christmas gifts! I hope you're enjoying the season :)

      Reply
  10. Why mess with perfection indeed? These look lovely. Wishing you and your family a very happy Christmas :)

    Reply
    • Thanks Baking Addict :) To you and yours too! Have some happy holidays and a wonderful new year!

      Reply
  11. Those cute little mine pies look so delicious and wonderful. You really have outdone yourself before the Christmas holiday :). I can't wait for the mini vacay I get to have after Christmas.. doing nothing :)

    Reply
    • Thanks so much Kay – ah, vacations doing nothing – that's the best kind!

      Reply
  12. I love how these look presented on the plate! Since I've not had mincemeat I've also not experienced these mini pies! Looks so very tempting and delicious!

    Reply
    • Thanks Linda – when these are warm from the oven, served up with some cream or custard (or both ;) ) it's *very* hard not to run off with your mouth stuffed full of them! :D

      Reply
  13. Charles, your mince pies look perfect! Must dig out my old mince pie tin and make a dozen. Haven’t gotten round to making the mincemeat yet though, but I will soon. I’m so sorry to read about the demise of the English tearoom – how I wish England would resist the onslaught of the (American) chains that have long since taken over this country and are rapidly taking over England and other countries.

    Reply
    • Thank so much Jean – I’m a huge fan of “Mincers” as I call them sometimes, and really do enjoy them in every form. I’m looking forward to seeing yours :) The good news is, small tea rooms are alive and well up here in Sweden… I’ll come back with some photos for you to see :)

      Reply
  14. What great looking little pies! Your photos are scrumptious! :)

    Reply
    • Thanks so much Sook! If you’ve never had them I highly recommend giving them a try :)

      Reply