Monday, 23 December 2013

stars in their eyes - I mean pies...

I know it's mince pie season, but this is a great recipe for all year round.  We're purists I'm afraid, mince pies are only to be eaten from the day we put the decorations up until the day we take them down, but this pastry is amazing, and would be fab for apple pies or jam tarts anytime.

Very quick to make, very easy to roll out and cut (and easily squish-back-together-able, so perfect when your small people are 'helping') and, very importantly, very delicious - soft and crumbly, but not so crumbly that they actually crumble before they get to your mouth.  Tricky to eat in polite company maybe, so best for informal gatherings - your brother and his kids, not your boss and his wife - you know, people you want to share mince pies and silly christmas stories with!

Over the past few years we've tweaked our method to make the best pies we can, and that's what I'd really like to share - plenty of tips to make it as easy (and yummy) as possible.

Ingredients :

225g marg
350g plain flour
100g sugar

mincemeat - a tablespoonful in each pie, so approx 16tbsp, which will be about 200g

icing sugar to dust over when serving

* * * * *

The basic pastry recipe / 'what to do'  is easy-peasey, but you can check it out here if you fancy a refresher.

Now, for what we do :

Ingredients and method mostly the same, but a few important differences...

Turn your oven on to preheat - 170°c fan, 180°c non fan.

Blitz your marg, flour and sugar together using the dough blade in the food processor.

* * * * *

Grab a muffin tin (or two), and some greaseproof paper - it's Blue Peter time!

 Cut strips of greaseproof paper (or baking parchment) approx 3cm wide (2).  I know that sounds picky, but it usually comes (1) 30cm wide, so just strips, okay? 
Now (3) cut each strip in half longways...just bear with me!
Each strip is now a long rectangle - (4) fold it in half lengthwise, and then repeat with the rest of the strips.
I've even drawn a diagram!
(I know, I know, my talents are wasted)

* * * * *

Roll out your dough to about ½cm thick, and get going with those pastry cutters - for my muffin tins I used the crinkly edged cutter that's 7cm wide.

* * * * * 

So, one at a time, lay a pastry round on top of a strip, then gently ease it into the muffin tray.  Leave the strip where it is - underneath the pastry!

Using a teaspoon for accuracy, fill each base with a generous amount of mincemeat.  Try to ensure no mincemeat touches the metal tray, as this will make it stick.

* * * * *

With remaining pastry dough, cut out lids (sized to fit your muffin tray), and cut a small star shape out of each lid.  Gently place the lid over the mincemeat, pressing down at the edges to seal.  Keep squishing and re-roll until your pies all have lids - if you still have dough, roll it out, cut it into shapes and cook with the mince pies in the oven - pastry biscuits! (8-10 mins in the oven)

* * * * *

Into the oven!
These will take about 15 minutes.  As soon as you can see them darkening to pale Brien around the edges then take them out of the oven, even though they will still be fairly pale.

* * * * *

Leave to cool in the muffin tins for five minutes, and get any wire cooling racks you have out of the cupboard.  Carefully, using the paper strips as individual handles, lift the mince pies (one at as time!) onto the rack.  Allow to cool for another five minutes, then gently pull the strips off of the pies.

* * * * *

I'd highly recommend eating them warm, just a dusting of icing sugar, but if you do leave them to cool then store in an airtight container to keep them as fresh as possible, and eat them up within a couple of days.  Smiler, Noah and Petal make these these mince pies to give to everyone at christmas-time, along with jams and chutneys that we make through the year - even those who don't like mince pies eat them up quite happily, often asking for the recipe!

* * * * *


  1. Love the idea with the strips of paper to get them out - genius! Also love cut out stars rather than using the actual stars themselves, makes them a bit different. Gorgeous.

    1. Hi Emma - we've lost too many mince pies over the years to non stick tins that aren't quite non stick enough! The strips are fiddly, but they do mean you can have deep filled mince pies, and the kids can lift them out - always important to have jobs for everyone! Thank you for the lovely compliment about the cut outs - as you say, they are a bit different, and the way they're put together means that even if you (or whoever) has been a bit generous with the filling, it won't bubble over and stick the pastry to the tins.
      Thank you for reading, and especially taking the time to comment - I love that people read the slightly random things I post about! Let me know how it goes if you give it a go - jam tarts in January perhaps - with flowers cut out instead of stars!
      Have a wonderful christmas!


If reading this has made you smile, or left you feeling sad; if you're fuming in anger, or shaking your head in disgust; if you'd like to share something, or just want to say hi, please do so here. Thank you.