Mince Pies – The Grand Finale?

As I mentioned last month, Dan & I decided last year that we were going to make our own mince pies this year, including the mince meat. So as planned, we made our mince meat well in advance and let it do its thang.

I have to say while we were hoping that the different alcohol we used for our two batches of mince meat would make a big difference to the flavour – I don’t think it did. While I think I am more partial to the one with brandy, I am hard pressed at times to tell the difference between them once baked. However, it was easy to make and I have to say it tastes great – so no complaints there.

Now making the pastry has been a complete different ball game. I did not think I hated pastry, until I met shortcrust pastry. As always, I resorted to the baking bible (Mary Berry) and while her recipe was easy to follow and the dough by far was the easiest to roll out and handle, it just did not do it for me. The pastry was not nearly buttery enough and lacked that flaky crumbly melt in your mouth awesomeness I was expecting. (Sorry Mary)

Attempt no. 2 tasted a lot better and was sort of an experiment. Though I cannot give credit to just one recipe cause it was one of those – read a thousand recipes and find a common-ish denominator and wing it. We ended up following the simple rule of equal amounts of butter to flour, 1 egg only and after learning from our mistake the first time – completely skipped the splash of water & decided no more than 2 tbsp of icing sugar could go into that bad boy. This resulted in a flaky crumbly pastry that tasted good but was more of a pain to work with and would not cooperate unless it was properly chilled and a liberal use of flour over every surface. I felt this dough needed more sweetness to it, but when we tried it with more icing sugar – it just ended up being getting stuck to everything.

After chatting to fellow food lover, we decided to try Paul Hollywood’s pastry recipe. This had slightly less butter than recipe number 2 and used sugar instead of icing sugar. This dough was truly a pain and a half to work with. I felt it was more difficult than pastry number 2. The only way we managed to get it to work was by using lots of flour while rolling and by breaking up the dough into mini portions, keeping it in the fridge while we used bit by bit with copious amounts of flour. While we did do something similar with recipe no 2, this pastry was definitely more temperamental and it could not stay out as long.

However, what we did end up with was a flaky crumbly buttery pastry that had just the right amount of sweetness to it. It was the best of the three and probably what we are going to stick to for the rest of our mince meat. That is of course until the next time we decide to make our own and forget how frustrated our failures made us and experiment again.

Do you have a shortcrust pastry go to recipe for mince pies you think I should try? Let me know

Recipe (Option 2)

175gm flour
175gm butter
2 tablespoons icing sugar
1 egg

1. Using a food processor or mixer, mix flour and icing sugar together.
2. Add butter and combine until you get a crumb like consistency.
3. Add 1 egg and mix till it becomes a dough. (Do not overmix)
4. Wrap dough in a baking sheet/cling film and let cool for 30 minutes in the fridge.
5. Roll out pastry approx 3mm thick and cut with a cookie cutter – make sure bigger than size of pan
6. Place in pan that is buttered, press middle and sides down and top with dough.
7. Brush with an egg
8. Bake in a preheated oven at 180 degrees for 15 minutes.

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