I call them perfect because I’ve been making these mince pies with my mum ever since I can remember. So to me they’re just how mince pies should be – small melting little mouthfuls of thin flaky shortcrust pastry with a lovely dollop of mincemeat. My mum always used to say that she preferred having small star toppers instead of a full lid because it means there’s not too much pastry for the amount of filling. And she’s absolutely right, it’s the perfect ratio, unlike shop bought mince pies which are always dry with too much pastry, these are mouthwateringly deliciously perfect. The little stars make them look simply gorgeous as well to impress all your guests over the festive season.
They’re also perfect because they are super easy to make! Usually at Christmas time I can make about 4 batches of these in one evening because they’re that easy. And this time I found a cheat way of making the pastry. Instead of spending time crumbling the butter into the flour with your finger tips, I simply threw the flour and butter into a food processor, a couple of blasts and hey presto you’ve got that perfect breadcrumb texture before adding the sugar and egg. I’m sure Paul Hollywood and Mary Berry or my mum for that matter wouldn’t be impressed with the use of a food processor but I like to call it ‘modern’ baking 😉
Traditionally on Christmas day we like serving these warm with a good dollop of brandy butter which will melt slightly. It’s like a mouthful of heaven! But they are just as tasty cold or heated up in the oven. They will also keep in a tin for a week or so meaning you can make plenty ahead, keep them in the kitchen and serve them up to any guests over the Christmas period – they will love having these perfect homemade treats.
Makes 24 mince pies (I did them in 2 batches of 12)
You will need:
- Mince pie tin
- Rolling pin
- 7cm (ish) circular pastry cutter
- Small star (other other shape) biscuit cutter
- 220g plain flour (plus extra for dusting work surface when rolling pastry)
- 55g unsalted butter (cold and cut into cubes)
- 55g lard (I used Trex baking)
- 80g caster sugar
- Cold water
- 1 jar mincemeat
- Icing sugar to dust
1. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees C (180 fan) and lightly grease your mince pie tin.
2. Put the flour, lard and cubed butter into a food processor and blitz a few times until you reach a crumbly breadcrumb texture. If you don’t have a food processor use the traditional method of using your finger tips to rub the butter and flour together until you reach a breadcrumb texture.
3. Put the flour and butter mixture into a bowl and mix in the sugar.
4. Start adding the water tablespoon by tablespoon bringing the mixture together with your hands but be careful as you don’t want the mixture to become too sticky. It should take about 2-3 tablespoons but you can always add more flour if you put in too much water.
5. Place the pastry ball in the fridge for 10 minutes
6. Dust a clean work surface with a good quantity of plain flour and roll out the pastry to about 3mm. This should feel quite thin. Cut out your circles and stars using the cutters.
7. Using a palette knife put all your circles into the tins and then fill each hole with a teaspoon of mincemeat. Be careful not to overfill as you don’t want it to explode over the edge in the oven! Then cover each pie with a star.
8. Brush each mince pie with a touch of milk then place in the oven for 15-20 mins until golden brown. Leave to cool in the tins for 5 minutes before removing from tins and cooling. Dust with icing sugar to serve.