It is finally December so I am letting the grinch have his happy ending and slowly getting into the festive spirit. I have been working on Christmas for probably half of this year, imagine pretending it is Christmas for photoshoots in the middle of summer, or writing recipes for Christmas leftovers when everyone else is sunning themselves on a beach somewhere. To some people that sounds like heaven but I like to keep the holidays special, celebrating Christmas even a day before December the 1st just seems wrong. This recipe might seem familiar to some of you, those who have been reading The Boy Who Bakes for years, because I first posted it way back in 2011, unfortunately when I moved my site over to the new design my hosting company deleted my entire blog and with it all the recipes So to make friends and influence people, here is that recipe.
No apologies but this recipe is not the most classic version mince pie, actually its basically the gilded lily of mince pies. Traditionally made with a simple shortcrust pastry I use a sweet pastry, rich with vanilla beans, and as buttery as can be. The filling might be a traditional mincemeat but lurking underneath that dried fruit is a little nugget of almond paste, which just makes a rich tart that bit richer, and trust me it’s delicious! My family have been making a version of these pies for years, since I was little, and in my eyes they're hard to beat.
If you want to make a big batch of these, the great news is that they freeze wonderfully. Simply bake and cool fully before freezing on a parchment lined tray until solid, then bagging or boxing up (done this way they shouldn't freeze together as a block). Made at the start of the month you can have warm mince pies whenever you want through the christmas season.
600g Mincemeat, shop bought or homemade
200g marzipan or almond paste, shop bought or homemade
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 vanilla pod
400g plain flour
35g ground almonds
75g icing sugar
pinch of salt
250g unsalted butter, diced and chilled
2 large egg yolks
approx. 1 tbsp ice cold water
To make the pastry cut the vanilla pod in half through the middle and scrape out the seeds. Add to the bowl of a food processor along with the flour, almonds, icing sugar and salt. Pulse a handful of times until everything is mixed evenly. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs. Add the egg yolks and the water and pulse briefly just to distribute, but stopping well before the dough comes together as a ball (the finished texture should be crumbly). Tip the dough out onto the work surface and use your hands to bring together into a uniform dough. Divide the dough into two batches, flatten into discs and wrap in clingfilm, refrigerating for at least an hour or until firm.
Roll out a piece of the dough on a lightly floured worksurface, rolling to about 3mm thick. Use an 8cm round cookie cutter to cut out as many discs as you can, setting the trimmings aside. Use the pastry discs to carefully line the holes of two 12xhole bun trays. Repeat with the second piece of dough, cutting out 6cm lids. Briefly knead the scraps of dough back together and re-roll cutting out extra discs for more pies. Take the almond paste and roll into small balls, pressing into flat discs and pacing into the base of each pie. Fill each pie level with mincemeat, don't overfill as the pies have a tendency to leak and glue themselves to the tins if you do. Dip your finger in the egg and run around the edge of each mince pie and top with a lid, pressing gently together to seal. Use a knife or a fork to press a couple holes into the lids and finally brush the lids with the remaining egg. Chill the pies for 20-30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 180C (160C fan). Once the pies are chilled bake for 25-30 minutes or until the pastry is a golden brown. Allow to cool in the trays for 10 minutes before carefully lifting out and setting onto a wire rack to cool completely.
Kept in a sealed container these will keep for a week.
You can use homemade mincemeat if you like or even just improve a shop bought version. I like to add some diced stem ginger to shop bought mince meat just to make it a little extra special.
This recipes use a traditional shallow bun tin, if you use a muffin tin your pastry bases will need to be a little bigger so you will make less, around 15.