Monday, December 12, 2016

Mince Pies

'Tis the season so we're taking a break from Muffin Monday in favor of Mince Pie Monday. Mince pies are to Brits what egg nog is to Americans. Side note: still haven't found egg nog in England, so sad. Mince pies are brought to every Christmas party, Secret Santa and office function with every store advertising their award winning mince pies.

I cheated a little bit here, I bought the mince. I always thought mince pies were filled with meat, probably because minced meat is a meat thing but mince pies are filled with mince that consists of a mix of soft fruits and sometimes nuts. It seems pretty common to use raisins, currants and apple in mince filling. 

In my defense, I made the pie crusts based on Mary Berry's recipe so there's some solid pro dough in these mince pies. She also has a recipe for the filling if you don't live in the UK where it's a common jarred baking ingredient.

Cold butter is cut into flour and powdered (icing) sugar. Orange zest gives the crust a nice tang. The butter is cut into the powdered mix either with a fork (what I did), your hands (also happened at one point), or food processor (smart choice). Once the dough is crumbly, add one egg and mix together. Here's where hands are--handy. The dough should come together into a ball like you are making pie crust (because you are making pie crust! Tiny little pie crusts).

On a well-floured surface, roll out the dough to the desired thickness. I used a glass but if you have a biscuit cutter, cut circles of dough that will fit in a muffin tin with enough dough to go up half the sides of the muffin tin. 

Spoon a full tablespoon of mince filling into each pie shell. Roll more dough out and use a star cookie cutter to make the top of the mince pies. You can also make another circle top or use a different cookie cutter shape but stars seem to be the traditional route. 

Gently place the stars on top of the mince and press the edges against the edges of the base dough. Brush an egg wash over the tops for a nice golden brown finish.

Bake for 15 minutes or until golden. The mince pies should cool before you try to remove them from the tin, otherwise they'll fall apart.

Recipe (oh metric)
  • 175g plain flour (roughly 1 1/2 cups)
  • 25g icing sugar (powdered sugar, about 1/4 cup)
  • Zest of 1 orange
  • 75g unsalted butter (mmm difficult to translate, weighing is best but less than 1 cup)
  • 1 egg for dough
  • 350g mince pie filling
  • 1 egg for egg wash
  1. Preheat oven to 150C (300F).
  2. In a medium bowl (or food processor), combine the flour, sugar and orange zest.
  3. Cut in the butter using a fork or process in your food processor until the mixture is crumbly.
  4. Add the egg. Mix until the dough comes together. You may need to add some water if it's too dry, a teaspoon at a time.
  5. Mix until the dough forms a ball. I found it best to wrap in plastic wrap and refridgerate for a few minutes before rolling to prevent sticking.
  6. On a well floured surface, roll out half of the dough (you can roll more out later if needed). Use a glass or biscuit cutter to cut circles.
  7. Place the dough circles into a muffin tin with the sides reaching up to 1/2 the tin.
  8. Spoon mince mixture into each pie crust.
  9. Roll out remaining dough and cut tops for the mince pies (stars, circles, hearts etc.).
  10. Place the top dough gently over each mince pie, pressing the edges against the bottom shell to make a seal.
  11. In a small bowl, whisk another egg and gently brush the tops of each pie with the egg wash. 
  12. Bake for 15 minutes until golden.
  13. Allow to cool before removing from tin and serving either warm or cool. 

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