While American children are setting out milk and cookies on Christmas Eve, across the pond in England, English children are setting out mince pies and sherry for Father Christmas. Mince pies date back all the way to the Middle Ages when the recipe used to contain meat, dried fruit, spices, and sugar, but as the centuries went on, meat was eventually left out of the recipe and we end up with the mincemeat of today – dried and candied fruits, spices, sugar, alcohol, apple, and suet (the only animal product to remain in the recipe).
English Mince Pies
- 180 g dried currants 1 1/4 cup
- 180 g raisins 1 1/4 cup
- 180 g cooking apple peeled and diced (6 oz)
- 50 g candied orange peel 1/3 cup
- 50 g prunes pitted and chopped
- 115 g shredded suet 1/2 cup (can substitute frozen, grated butter if you can’t find suet)
- 115 g brown sugar 1/2 cup packed
- 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp ground mace
- 1/2 tsp ground cloves
- 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
- 1/4 tsp ground ginger
- pinch of salt
- 1/2 lemon zest and juice
- 300 ml brandy or rum or a mixture of the two (1 1/4 cups)
- 185 g all-purpose flour 1 1/2 cups
- 20 g powdered sugar 2 tbsp
- 100 g cold unsalted butter, cubed (7 tbsp)
- 1 tbsp cold water
- 1 egg yolk
- 1 egg yolk + 1 tbsp milk for glazing
- Place all ingredients for the mincemeat into a medium sized bowl and stir well to combine. Then pour brandy or rum over the ingredients, adding more if necessary to cover all of the ingredients. Cover the bowl and let it sit in the refrigerator overnight.
- The next day, stir the mincemeat and divide amongst sterilized jam jars and store in the fridge until ready to use. Mincemeat is best if made 1 month in advance but can be used the next day if needed. The flavor does development over time, however.
- To make the shortcrust, mix the flour, sugar, and salt in a large bowl. Rub the butter into the flour with your fingers or a pastry cutter until it is like wet sand. Add the water and egg yolk and knead until it forms a smooth dough. You can also do this in the food processor, if you have one. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
- Roll out your dough on a lightly floured surface or between two layers of parchment paper. Roll it until it is 1/4″ (6mm) thick. Cut out 12 fluted circles to fit your pie mold. Your circular cutter should be slightly larger than the pie molds so the dough sits slightly raised above the edge. Then roll our your dough scraps and cut out 12 stars to fit over the top of each pie. Set the stars aside until you fill the pies.
- Give the mincemeat a stir and then spoon in enough mincemeat to fill each pie about three quarters of the way. Then gently press a star over each pie. Then whisk together the egg yolk and tablespoon of milk and brush each star lightly with the egg wash.
- Bake the pies in a 350F/180C preheated oven for 20-25 minutes until golden and bubbling. Let the pies cool in the pan for about 10 minutes after removing them from the oven so they don’t fall apart when you remove them from the pan. Let cool on a rack and enjoy at room temperature.