The mince pie is a British tradition but, although I am a Frenchman, I cannot resist trying to improve on a classic! Its ingredients are traceable to the 13th century, when returning European crusaders brought with them Middle Eastern recipes containing meats, fruits and spices. It was in Victorian times that it changed from being a meat-based pie to being the sweet version we love today. It's easy to get ahead with mince pies in advance of Christmas as the mincemeat mixture may be made a month in advance and the pies may be made and frozen, then cooked when needed. Or, once cooked, they will keep in an air-tight tin for 5 days; just pass them through the oven to freshen the pastry before serving.
For the mincemeat:
225g (1 x large)
Bramley apple, finely diced
Mixed peel, chopped
Sugar, dark brown
Sweet mixed spice
2 x rasps
Lemon, zest and juice
Orange, zest and juice
For the sweet shortcrust pastry
Egg, medium, organic or free range
Egg, medium, organic or free range, beaten (to finish)
Icing sugar (to finish)
For the mince meat:
Mix all the ingredients together, stir well, and refrigerate until needed, or place into sterised jam jars and store in a cool dry place for up to 1month.
For the sweet shortcrust pastry:
Mix together the butter and icing sugar until they are completely blended.
Add the egg and finally the flour.
Knead until you have a smooth dough.
Leave to rest for at least 1 hour before using.
Making the mince pies:
Pre-heat the oven to 190ºC.
Roll the pastry out to a little less than 5mm thick. Cut out 30 rounds just a little larger than your tartelette moulds, and 30 rounds with the pastry cutter two sizes down.
Line the tartelette moulds (or muffin tins) with the large rounds of pastry. Fill them with the mincemeat to level with the sides.
Now brush a little beaten egg around the edges of the smaller rounds and stick them on top of the mince pies.
Brush with a little more beaten egg, and then bake in the pre-heated oven for 25 minutes until golden brown.
Transfer from the moulds to a wire rack and leave to cool. Sprinkle generously with icing sugar.