How to make Mince Pies like a Marlborough Mummy
There are so many parts of a traditional Christmas that are distinctly “marmite-y” (and we don’t just mean Twiglets). If you love things like Christmas pudding and bread sauce, happy days. But if you hate them (and, let’s face it, there’s no middle ground) you may still feel obliged to go through with them. Mince pies definitely fall into this category. (And, anticipating howls of protest, let us put this to you: if they’re so great, how come you can’t get them any other time of the year? It’s can’t be respect for tradition; after all, you can buy Hot Cross Buns whenever there’s an “r” in the month and whenever there’s not, but that’s because Hot Cross Buns are yum!)
Anyway, even if you’ve tried to avoid getting any mince pies in so far, it’s not too late to make your own. Really, it’s not. There are 3 basic approaches:
– cheats’ delight
buy some from Waitrose (this is rather harder to pull off if you buy Heston’s range), “distress” them by gently rattling the box, remove from silver foil, dust with icing sugar and serve on fine china while avoiding any questions as to which recipe you used or how you got them all so regular.
– foodie special
Rub 150g butter into 300g flour to the consistency of breadcrumbs. Add a beaten egg and a little cold water to make a soft dough (but not so much it goes sticky). Chill it in the fridge for half an hour. Roll out the pastry on a prefloured surface and cut out fluted circles to fit your pie tray (which you have, naturally, already greased). Fill each circle with mincemeat and top each with a smaller circle, star, Christmas tree etc. Brush each pie lightly with milk and bake for 20 minutes at 200C/400F/Gas 6. Each pie should go golden brown but not burn. Leave to cool on a wire rack.
And if that isn’t hardcore enough for you, you could look into making your own fruity mincemeat, perhaps even using real meat!
– for the rest of us average mortals
buy some ready-made pastry, roll out, cut up, grease and line a pie tin, fill with a supermarket jar of mincemeat, top, glaze, bake, cool, have a glass of wine. Sorted.
Happy Christmas to all our readers!