I always used to make mince pies with my Nan. I used to watch her make the pastry by hand, endlessly folding the pastry into thirds and dotting each third with a mix of butter and shortening. She would roll the pastry out neither too thick nor thin and it would be my job to use a fluted cutter to stamp out the frilly edged circles and press each one into the cups of the bun trays.
Together, we'd drop spoonfuls of mincemeat into each pastry filled cup and press a frilly edged hat on to each one. My Nan would tell me to 'dibble dabble' them with an egg-wash glaze and into the oven they'd go.
The way I made mince pies didn't really change until I worked as a baker in a tea room for little while. The house recipe called for almond pastry and a fluted bun tin, and I haven't looked back.
The almond pastry is more crisp and crumbly than standard shortcrust and the fluted tin gives the sides of the pie a serrated edge, which gives the pastry something extra.
Your mince pies will be seriously game changing if you make your own mincemeat - Delia's recipe is the best I've found, though if you don't have the time or the inclination, a jar of good shop-bought mince meat will be fine.
I also like to use salted butter and add finely grated lemon or lime zest to the pastry to give a fresh citrus note to cut through the rich, dark mincemeat and buttery pastry.
Mince Pie Ingredients
Makes 12 mince pies
120g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
50g ground almonds
100g salted butter, cut into cubes
2 tbsp icing sugar, plus extra for dusting
1 medium egg yolk
2 tbsp cold water
1 medium egg, beaten
zest of a lemon and a lime
12 hole fluted bun tin
1 smallish star cookie cutter
1 medium fluted scone cutter or a use a pint glass as a cutter
How to make Mince Pies
1.Sieve the flour and ground almonds into a bowl.
2. Rub in the butter until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Add in the grated zest of whatever citrus fruit you fancy - lemon, lime, orange, blood orange - they all work well.
3. Mix the egg yolk and cold water together and stir into the flour mixture first with a fork and then with one hand. It may be necessary to add more water, but the pastry shouldn't be damp.
4. Divide the pastry into 2 balls, cover with beeswax wrap or clingfilm and chill in the fridge for 30 minutes.
5. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees centigrade. Roll out one ball of pastry on a lightly floured surface until 3mm thick. Cut into rounds and use to line a 12-hole fluted bun tin.
6. Fill each pie ¾ full with mincemeat, then roll out the other half of the pastry and stamp into star shapes with a cookie cutter
7. Dampen the edges of the lined pastry with a little water and top each with a star. Press down lightly on the edges to seal, then trim.
8. Brush the tops with beaten egg and bake for 15 to 20 minutes until golden.
9. Remove from the oven and leave to cool in the tin for 5 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and leave to cool completely.