Seriously, isn’t it really the most wonderful time of the year? We are starting to play plenty of festive songs, music is really the very best way to get one into the spirit of things, I mean when you listen to the words of Andy Williams’ song, can you not just hear yourself telling stories of Christmases past? Even in this hideously mixed up world, spending time with family and friends is where we can all find little peace I hope. France is seriously troubled at the moment as many of you will have seen or read, the riots continue in Paris, Brexit rages in the UK, but whilst we cannot ignore what is happening let’s not get into politics right now, let’s focus instead on good food and good cheer.
And for me the start of any Christmas season is always when one tastes that first mince pie. Now if you didn’t grow up in the British Isles or a British household the chances are you may not know of these delicious little sweet treats. No, they are not mince as in meat-based, (although they were originally back in the day, which is perhaps where the name originates from) they are instead a mass of dried fruits more often than not soaked in alcohol and cased in pastry. You can buy mince pies everywhere in the UK and now in many other countries, but making your own is the real deal, plus the aroma that will fill the kitchen is incomparable, this is the very scent of Christmas, the perfume of rich spices filling the air will bring everyone to investigate, even the dogs! The key most certainly is in the filling and it is worth taking a little time to get this just right.
Making mince pies in our family is as traditional as decorating the tree, it’s a family pastime we all get involved in, whether it be stirring, mixing or simply tasting. Take your time, make them in the evening accompanied by a glass of wine and some good music; you are almost guaranteed to feel cheerful and in a festive spirit at the end.
I have been making my own mincemeat for a long time now and every year I refine it a little. And the best bit: you really can adapt these to your own needs. My basic recipe includes sugar, actually very little, but still it is there. I personally just leave it out and instead I add half a teaspoon of honey. We also struggle to find currants here although sultanas and raisins are readily available. So I simply adjust the amounts adding more of what we have so that the end overall weight of dried fruit is the same. You see what I mean, you really can be flexible. Go with what you like.
As I said nowadays mincemeat is mainly made from just fruit, although some bought varieties (and many recipes) still use suet; happily I find the trend is turning slowly away from this altogether and I use butter.
Just before we get started you will also need a simple shortcrust pastry, if you haven’t the time to make it, a good organic store bought one will suffice, because at this time of year time always seems to be in short supply.
For 24 mince pies you will need :
20g finely sliced or chopped almonds
45g butter chopped
2 apples (cored and chopped into small pieces, but not peeled)
70g brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ginger
The juice and grated rind of 2 large oranges
The juice and grated rind of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons of cognac (rum or brandy) (if you don’t want to add alcohol you can substitute orange juice)
Place all the ingredients except for the alcohol in a large heavy based saucepan and very gently bring to the boil, stirring all the time. Then turn the heat down as low as possible and simmer slowly for about 25 – 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. If it appears too dry add a little orange juice.
After the thirty minutes or so, take off the heat and allow to cool a little before adding the alcohol and mixing well.
You can either cook with this straight away or you can store in clean sterilised jars in the fridge for several weeks, just remember to bring to room temperature before you want to use it.
Roll the pastry out and cut into rounds and place inside greased cupcake tins.
Fill each uncooked pastry base with a good teaspoon of mincemeat, I like to cover these with a pastry star, but you can choose a complete covering hat if you prefer, or you can make a latticework out of strips of pastry, you see the choices are endless.
Bake at 180C/350F for about 20 – 25 minutes. Remove, allow to cool, sprinkle with a little icing sugar and try and restrain yourself from eating too many all in one go, they will keep in a tin for a couple of weeks, but ours never do, they seem to disappear almost as fast as we can churn them out! Still warm on the cooling rack is as good a place to start the taste testing as any!
I have to admit this morning, I was running out of the door, to take Millie to the finals of her team tennis tournament. She was playing number one slot, so an early start was required, and remember it is a Sunday! So with a banana in one hand and a mince pie in the other we set off. In the car Millie confessed she had a mince pie for breakfast too! You see they really are the thing to eat at this time of year!!
53 thoughts on “♪ ♫ It’s the Most Wonderful Pie of the Year ♪ ♫”
I can almost smell them. I have to say the pies are not a tradition here, although here in Texas we have the biggest fruit cake bakery.
I simply adore fruit cakes too, sadly only half or our family does, so we tend not to make many! Merry Christmas xx
Wow, for once I’m not last….
My personal memories of mince pies started indeed in a not very pleasant form as I refused to eat them for the longest time, thinking they were done with real mince meat…. THEN, I had so many different varieties and not all very nice that I got nearly turned off again – until I tasted the ultimate little darling tarts in a B&B in North Devon, a place I’d like to return to at any time and moment if only I could!
I’m a great for Christmas treats, I taste them ALL but don’t participate in the ‘competition baking’ any longer – all family and friends I have are doing that so much better than I – and the world needs people eating all these goodies 🙂 🙂
Is that Evie’s baby in the photo, the one you kept? What’s his/her name? Looking good and that pleading look of the two babes….. wonderful!
How’s GG’s career? And MIllie, she’s also on the path to stardom in tennis? Oh, and another one: Should I book hols with you in March directly or on the site? 🙂
Lots of love, as always and a blessed 2nd advent. We’re off to the Advents Feast at my niece’s church where we shall meet up with all of her family, my sister & husband (grandparents of niece’s two girls) AND my mum….. Little sis has already written that she will bring a Christmas Stollen she made a few days ago – another baking tradition, full of love and calories, only SHE can do them as she does them!!!!!
Sounds as if you have a wonderful busy family Christmas planned, just as it should be. That is Evie and Bentley in the photo, we didn’t keep a puppy this time round, just too much going on and not enough hours to devote to a puppy. Making more mince pies today!! Would love to see you in March, just email me. Lots of love and a very Merry Christmas xx
You are certainly having a very Merry Christmas. I first had a mince meat pie while on a trip to England. It was from a box and so not fresh and not very tasty. I have since made a mince meat pie but it was a very heavy thing and calorie laden. Your version made in a cup cake pan sounds much better plus one small one wouldn’t have me wearing sweat pants.
Ha ha, I have never had one of the old fashioned ones with real meat, I don’t think I would like that at all! Merry Christmas xx
Confession time ~ I am 63 years old and never had a mincemeat pie! Sheltered life I’m afraid. I will make these this year as your recipe looks divine. I will definitely share with my sweet British neighbor as I am sure it will bring happy UK memories for her. Thank you from miles away, San Diego, California. 💙💛💙
@onmoonlightlane; you’re such a dearie – making them for your UK friends!!! I hope and pray they’ll be so delicious that you’re creating a new ‘evergreen’….. 🙂
I so hope you made the mincepies and that your neighbour loved them, what a lovely surprise for them. Merry Christmas xx
Except for a cheap supermarket reproduction, I have not had mincemeat pie in YEARS. I don’t really know what is in the supermarket pies, but I get the impression that they are vegetarian too. I think if I were to make it now, I would probably make it vegetarian as well. Venison is not so common anymore. I might use quince rather than apples, although we do happen to have pippin apples out there.
I am sure they would be lovely with quince, give it a try. I have never had a meat one and I don’t think I would like it very much, but these, as in my recipe, are a firm favourite! Merry Christmas xx
Those that I remember from years ago were made with quince. However, there are not many quinces left anymore. Crabapples work well, but taste more like apples (duh). Now that I have quinces in the garden, I can use them instead. There are two trees that are copies from one of the old trees I grew up with. I do not know the cultivar, but they are rad. I believe that they are Portuguese.
These sound fabulous!! I am not a baker. Love to cook however. I wonder if I could pull these off for Christmas Day?
You most certainly could and why not go the whole way and add some brandy butter and a little cream!! Merry Christmas xx
Love mincemeat tarts and yes it is not Christmas until the first bite. I use Cross and Blackwell mincemeat for mine but I will take note of your recipe..
I totally agree, that first bite means the start of Christmas!! Merry Christmas xx
I can smell them all the way over here. My mother made them, except she used a store bought bottled mix. Your receipe sounds so much better. I always thought that they were much too sweet.
Thank you for all your blog postings. We look forward to hearing about the doings of the Hays family. Hopefully next year we can swing by for a short visit.
Enjoy your family time over the Christmas season….
The store bought ones do tend to be very sweet. To be honest they don’t need the sugar at all, I make them without and just add a spoon of honey, but that’s just my preference! Either way they are not too sweet. Hopefully see you in 2019 Merry Christmas xx
I made these last year, based on your recipe and instructions and they were lovely. I like the idea of the stars on top too!
The stars add a little festive touch and stop them being too loaded with pastry I think. Merry Christmas xx
Yes, when I saw them, I thought, I have little star cut outs! Merry Christmas to you.
I grew up in northern New York State and we always had mince meat pies along with the other choices at holidays. It was always one of my favorites. It sure is wonderful with a small scoop of vanilla ice cream on top. I did have a “real” minced meat pie once made with venison. It wouldn’t be my first choice, but it wasn’t bad.
My family love them with cream on top! I have never had a meat one and not sure I would like it at all!! Merry Christmas xx
I love the pictures of your home and holiday season. Thank you for the fruit pies, we will try them.
Thank you and a very Merry Christmas to you xx
I love Christmas Mince Pies! I haven’t made my own for years, but I just might have a go this year… I’ll certainly be eating some regardless of who bakes them!
So sad about the troubles in France. It’s heartbreaking really.
Anyway, much love to you and the family this Christmas season. I’m hoping to go to Cape Reinga for a few days in January. It will be my first visit!
Go on make some yourself this year!!! Hope you are having a wonderful summer and some decent weather. We went up to Cape Reinga a couple of times, it was gorgeous but incredibly windy! Hope you have a wonderful time and a very Merry Christmas xx
Absolutely delighted to hear of your Yule preparations including the preparation of an ever better lot of mince pies . . . *laugh* – I look on with pleasure and interest, but do not quite share . . . have not celebrated Yule since childhood: simply do not like ‘holidays’ the date of which is set . . . like to take off in my own time and my own way – just me I guess, but am so happy to have ‘my time’ each year to catch up on all ‘my secret things’ ! Mince pies: well, I grew up in Australia and have been offered such time and again every year . . . and since I don’t eat anything baked or anything with dried fruit in it . . . well, I am just happy you enjoy these very pretty morsels 🙂 Vive la difference . . . and I do hope the problems in France and England decrease . . .
However you spend these days I hope you have the most wonderful time, wandering off on your own sounds like it could be a whole lot of fun. Enjoy and even if you don’t celebrate I will still wish you the most wonderful holidays. xx
I have never been a fan of mincemeat perhaps because ours was store bought. I have to say your recipe sounds good enough to give it a try.
Hope you have a joyous Merry Christmas! It is cold here in Texas, so getting in the spirit of this beautiful season.
I hope you did get around to trying the mince pies and that you enjoyed them! Happy New Year xx
My mother always made mincemeat tarts, but I have never enjoyed them. However, my husband likes them and I’ve made them for him occasionally, but I’ve never tried making the mincemeat. And a jar of it lasts a very long time in the fridge. Perhaps I will give him a treat this year and make some.
This recipe makes enough for 24, you can always half it and just make 12, so no wastage and one happy husband! Merry Christmas xx
Love mince pies! Usually buy shop brought mince meat, then add extra brandy, glace cherrys, grated apple and orange zest to freshen it up abit. Christmas isnt Christmas with out them, more important than turkey! Actually havent had that for a good 3 years, capons alot more tasty!
Enjoy your mince pies and Roasted capons, sounds delicious Merry Christmas xx
Yes, the mince pies are in the freezer waiting for festive occasions with neighbours and friends. This year I bought some from Waitrose – Bitter orange and juniper – delicious!! Not bitter at all. I made some mini mince pies so that if they’re handed round to a group of people who may be standing, there’s enough for a mouthful or two, but no plate needed. Hands can be kept for holding the mulled wine!! Clive didn’t like them when we first met, but he does now! I too just love that smell of spice, orange and cinnamon that just says Christmas – I have a lovely candle in a tin, called Inspiritus and that has the most wonderful smell, the whole house smells of Christmas even if I’m not baking mince pies!! Have a lovely week.
Inspiritus sounds like a heavenly scent, that unmistakeable smell of Christmas, I just love it. And a little package arrived, thank you so so much, can’t wait to open on Christmas Day, you are too too kind. Merry Christmas to you both xx
Ah! Im so glad it arrived! I hope it doesn’t go to Bentley’s head, having his own present delivered! It’s not a lot, but you’ll see why I had to send it when you open it!! Have a wonderful family day. Xx
Amazing, thank you so much, I am emailing you separately to say a huge thank you xx
I grew up having mincemeat pie at holidays just like pumpkin etc. Only in recent years have I discontinued since my “kidlets” don’t care for them. I live in Ohio now but I grew up in Missouri & my Mom always baked mincemeat!
Yours look delicious & made me hungry!
Isn’t it funny how things get dropped because our children don’t like this or that, we have traditions that are fading for that very reason, fortunately however, over half of them like mince pies!! Merry Christmas xx
I made mincemeat a few years ago – have some in the freezer. I was waffling on making a pie but tartlets are a much better idea. For some reason as an adult I really like mincemeat!
I think mincemeat is perhaps a more adult taste, although I remember loving them as a child, but my children have only recently started to like them. Merry Christmas xx
I don’t think I have ever eaten a mincemeat pie. They are not common on this side of the Atlantic. Thank you for clarifying that they are not actually made of meat (though I do like several kinds of meat pie).
No they are definitely a British thing, but still quite delicious! Merry Christmas xx
When we took mince pies to FRance, our french relatives thought they were disgusting and spat them out 😦 considering they eat brains and other unmentionables I was most surprised.
Ha ha I can imagine! I have managed to only get smiles when the French try them, but I would not say they are passionate about them! Tolerate is probably a better word!! xx
I live in Canada and my family roots were from England and Scotland. Mincemeat tarts were always made at Christmas in our home. . As well as our Canadian tradition of butter tarts. My Mother has always continued the tradition of mincemeat tarts at Christmas. I was very excited to see your recipe. I made the tarts last evening. They smelled wonderful and tasted just as amazing. I will never buy mincemeat again. This recipe will be part of my Christmas baking tradition. Thank you so much!
Merry Christmas to you and your family.
Thank you so much Debby and I am so so happy that you enjoyed them and thank you for letting me know. We have made several batches, they don’t last long! and it is so easy. Hope you had a lovely Christmas and New Year xx
Totally agree. Cannot beat the first home made mince pie with sugar free home made mincemeat and a glass or two of mulled wine to get you in the festive spirit. I too have been making mine for years. You can get currants in biocoop if there is one near you. Have a truly wonderful time with your family🌲🌲😍
Yes we have a biocoop in Rochefort, I shall go in search of currants, thank you! Merry Christmas xx
Fruit mince pies are a tradition in our family too. I make my fruit mince in early November using my grandmothers recipe which is quite similar to yours, except I grate the apple and don’t use any nuts. I made the first batch on the 21st of December for my neighbours and the second batch today for my parents….they are my favourite Christmas treats. 🎄☺️
It’s never too early to start making them! I am making another batch today! Merry Christmas xx