Saturday, 26 November 2011

Mince Pies

If you’ve read this blog before you will know that I am completely unable to make pastry. It’s not that I haven’t tried, it’s just that it doesn’t work for me….So why, you may ask, did I find myself standing in the kitchen this afternoon having yet another try at this seemingly impossible task?

Well, I was flicking through a couple of my old Christmas recipe books, which haven’t seen the light of day for about 20 years, when I came across one by Nanette Newman (!) which was published in 1984! Don’t ask…I have no idea why I bought it, but it probably seemed like a good idea at the time; anyway, there was a recipe in there for mince pies with this amazing sounding orange and almond pastry. I’m a fool to myself but, with much trepidation, I decided to give it a go.

I am astonished and very pleased to report that not only were the pies edible, they were really good! I think it had something to do with the pastry being more like shortbread than shortcrust. It didn’t mind my heavy handedness and it even put up with having the trimmings re-rolled. Result! Eat your heart out Heston, mine tasted better than yours!

I’ve reproduced the ingredients list here but I’ve had to re-write the instructions in my own words for copyright reasons, which is just as well, really, because I used a food processor and Nanette allegedly made the pastry by hand. No chance of me doing that; I've failed too many times before!  

275g plain flour
25g ground almonds
175g butter, chilled and diced
75g icing sugar, sifted
grated zest of ½ an orange
1 egg yolk
3-4 tbsps of orange juice
450g mincemeat
a little milk

Put the flour, ground almonds and butter in a food processor and pulse until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs; add the icing sugar and orange zest then pulse again briefly; mix the orange juice and egg yolk together, add it to the mix and pulse until the mixture forms large clumps.

Tip out onto a lightly floured surface and knead lightly just until it comes together; wrap in cling-film and refrigerate for 20-30 minutes.

Roll the pastry out to the thickness of a £1 coin on a lightly floured surface and stamp out circles for the pie bases; lightly knead the trimmings into a ball, re-roll, and stamp out smaller circles for the lids. Press the bases into a bun tin, put a heaped teaspoon of mincemeat in each then press on the lids. Brush with milk and make a couple of slits in the top with a sharp knife.

Bake at 190C fan for 15 minutes until golden and sprinkle with sifted icing sugar before serving.

I made 21 pies from this, but I think you could probably get the full two dozen if you're braver than me and you roll the pastry a little more thinly.

Lovely served warm and if you happen to have a small spoonful of brandy butter to hand to tuck under the lid, so much the better.


  1. I've never been able to make edible pastry either but having read this I'm going to give it a try. Thanks for the recipe

    1. Hi Yvonne - pastry has been the bane of my life! I couldn't believe it when this recipe actually worked. Good Luck x

  2. I have used this recipe for years, everyone always comments how good they are. This year I misplaced my cookery book and although I can remember the ingredients I was struggling with quantities. Thank you for posting it on line. Maureen

    1. You're very welcome. I agree, they really are good and they work for me even though I'm usually useless at pastry! Merry Christmas x