My younger sister spent a year of her college career as an exchange student to Leeds, England. There she learned many life lessons, including how to drink lots of tea, how to drive on the left side of the road, and how to make these rich mini pies, which are now a Christmas tradition in her household (and which I am lucky enough to devour when we visit her).
You can find lots of mince pies recipes online; however, most cheat and use either store-bought pastry or filling, or both. This recipe is the real deal, complete with British terminology, which we’ve translated for you in italics. This is at least a one-day process. Like all things authentic, it can’t be rushed. Enjoy making homemade mince pies … and then enjoy eating them even more!
Traditional Homemade British Mince Pies
Mince (Consider making ½ this recipe–they are SO rich!)
225g/8oz vegetarian suet (or smaller amount of shortening)
225g/8oz apples, peeled, cored and chopped
125g/4oz candied peel, chopped or orange peel
225g/8oz golden raisins
225g/8oz regular raisins
175g/6oz natural sugar
1 tsp mixed/allspice
1 orange, zest and juice
60ml/2-4fl oz brandy
Mix all ingredients in large mixing bowl until well-combined. When you have the mince mixture finished, chill at least 24 hours before assembling the pies. You can also can the mince filling, following instructions for canning low-acid fruits or pie fillings.
Pastry (My sister doubles this, typically, for the mince recipe above.)
200g/7oz plain (white) flour, sifted
40g/1½oz natural sugar
75g/2¾oz ground almonds
125g/4½oz unsalted butter, diced
1 large free-range egg, beaten
Rub the butter into the dry ingredients by hand, 1-2 dices at a time. When the butter is worked in, gently stir in the egg.
Bring the mixture together with your hands, wrap in clingfilm (plastic wrap) and chill for an hour or so. It’s more like a shortbread type crust than a typical American pie crust. You can also swap in your favorite pie crust recipe.
1/4 cup milk
Assemble the pies
Before building the pies, take the mince out of the refrigerator, and stir to evenly distribute any liquid in the mixture. If using canned mince, open can, put into a bowl and stir.
My sister uses a mini muffin pan for her mince pies, because made in standard muffin pans, the pies do get large! It’s important that you know the pan heats evenly, should you use a larger muffin pan.
Preheat the oven to 400°F (UK Gas 6).
- Remove chilled pastry from refrigerator. Roll out the pastry to a uniform thinness (approximately 1/4″) on a well-floured surface. As dough warms, it will become difficult to handle. Chill again if needed.
- Cut large and small rounds of pastry. Large rounds must be big enough to line the pan wells, level with the tops of the wells, as they will become the bottom crust for the mince pies. Smaller rounds will top the pies.
- Place mince onto the bottom crust, leaving margins for sealing.
- Top with the smaller piece. Press the edges of the pastry pieces together to seal.
- Make a small slit in the top of each pie, then brush lightly with milk.
Because the crust has so much butter in it, it can bubble over the pan. You may want to line your oven with something like Lehman’s Nonstick Oven Liner. My sister says it can get a bit messy during baking, so she always lines the oven.
Bake the pies for 20-ish minutes or until golden brown. Cool 5 minutes in pan, then remove to wire rack. Serve warm.
Want to compare? My sister suggests this link for a reference. She’s used it when needed and liked it.
Editor’s Note: First published in December 2014.