Mince Pies, as the name suggests, used to contain minced meat as well as spiced fruit. The spices were added to preserve the mince as well as to disguise the taste of any meat that might be rotten (due to the lack of fridges in 17th century!). By the 19th century, with the growth of the British Empire and the increased availability of sugar, the Mince Pie became sweeter and eventually the meat element was phased out. Today we still refer to the filling as ‘mincemeat’ but now this is typically a mixture of beef suet (hard, grated fat from around the cow’s kidneys) dried fruit, brandy and spices.
· 1 large jar mincemeat (about 600g)
· 2 tangerines or mandarin oranges (segmented)
· 1 apple (finely chopped)
· zest of 1 of the oranges
· a pinch of icing sugar (for dusting)
For the pastry
· 375g plain flour
· 260g unsalted butter (softened)
· 125g caster sugar (plus extra for sprinkling)
· 1 large egg (plus 1 beaten egg for glazing)
1. Place the flour and butter in a bowl and rub together to a crumb consistency. Add the sugar and the egg, and mix together. Tip out onto a lightly floured surface and fold until the pastry comes together, be careful not to over mix. Wrap the pastry in cling film and chill for 10 mins.
2. Scoop the mincemeat into a bowl and add the tangerine, apple and zest.
3. Heat oven to 220C/200C fan/gas 7. Roll out the pastry to 3mm thick. Using a round cutter (about 10cm), cut out 16 bases and place them into muffin trays. Put 1 rounded tbsp of mincemeat mixture into each. Brush the edge of each pie with a little beaten egg.
4. Re-roll out the pastry to cut 7cm lids and press them on top to seal. Glaze with the rest of the egg, sprinkle with caster sugar, then make a small cut in the tops.
5. Bake mince pies for 15-20 minutes until golden brown. Leave to cool before releasing them from the muffin trays and dusting with icing sugar.