As the holiday season approaches, it’s time to start baking some Christmas favourites.
Mince pies – filled with a mixture of dried fruits, and spices (and sometimes a splash of brandy), are a decadent treat during this time of the year, and home-baked mince pies are a sure-fire way to impress your guests. Here’s how to make the perfect mince pie.
The foundation of any great mince pie lies in the quality of its ingredients. Start with a buttery, flaky pastry that melts in your mouth. Combine plain and strong flour, butter, a pinch of salt, and a splash of cold water.
For the filling, select a medley of dried fruits such as raisins, currants, and sultanas, paired with chopped apples, candied peel, and a mix of warming spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves. If you like a tipple in your filling, add a splash of brandy.
Achieving the ideal pastry is an art. Begin by rubbing cold butter into the flour until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Add just enough cold water to bring the dough together, handling it with care to prevent overworking. Allow it to rest in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes – this step ensures a tender and flaky crust.
Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured surface and cut rounds for the bases and slightly smaller rounds for the lids.
The heart of a mince pie lies in its filling – and don’t be shy to fill it to the brim. Combine the dried fruits, apples, and spices in a bowl, letting them marinate in a touch of brandy for an extra depth of flavour. The alcohol evaporates during baking, leaving behind a symphony of rich, festive tastes.
Preheat your oven to 200°C (180°C for fan ovens) and bake until the pastry turns a golden brown, and the aroma of warm spices fills your kitchen. Once your mince pies emerge from the oven, let them cool slightly before dusting with a snowy layer of icing sugar.
Whether shared – or enjoyed in solitude with a cup of tea and a Christmas movie – home-baked mince pies are a celebration of tradition and the spirit of the season.