Mince Pies

                                                              Mince PiesMince pies get a bad rap because they are often called mincemeat pies and that is not such a great inference.  They can be traced back to the 13th century and they were made with meat, suet, fruits and spices and people erroneously think they still have meat in them. This is a hard fact to wrap my head around but I found a factoid that states that 370 million mince pies are sold in the UK over the Christmas period annually, with the average Brit eating 27 mince piece each!  People in the U.S. have barely heard of them.  There is also a tradition of making a wish while you eat the first mince pie of the season and it is also considered good luck to eat 12 mince pies in 12 different houses on each of the 12 days of Christmas!  That’s a lot of mince pies not to mention visiting lots of people houses! Mince pies are wonderful memories for me and my British mom and grandmothers made them every Christmas and I have been making them for years and have passed the tradition on to my niece with my Granny’s recipe.   We make the filling in late November and allow it to macerate in the refrigerator for several weeks before making them.  I love getting out the scale my grandmother used to use and measure the dried and candied fruits and citrus peel, raisins, currants, golden raisins, brown sugar, grated butter and apples.  Then you add cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg, mix it all up and pour brandy over the filling.  I store it in a plastic container in the refrigerator for several weeks so the flavors can develop and then spend an afternoon making them just before Christmas.  My mom has the best pie dough recipe and it has a touch of vinegar and an egg which makes it the perfect texture.   You will need a mince pie baking tray and they are a little hard to find because they are more shallow than cupcake tins, but you can find them on Amazon.  The traditional pies have a flat rounded bottom.   My mom thinks it’s a sacrilege that I cut out little stars and press them on top of the filling.  She has always cut circles and makes 3 little slits in the top, but I like that you can see the filling.  We both agree they have to be sprinkled with sugar after they are baked.  I serve them with all the Christmas desserts and heat them in the oven and make a hard sauce and custard to serve alongside.  Hard sauce is just powdered sugar, butter, vanilla, cream and brandy and can be made several days ahead and stored in the refrigerator.   We always make the traditional British Bird’s custard from the tin and my niece and nephew are pros at making it before we serve it to really take the rich pies over the top!  Click here for the recipe….

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