Homemade mince pies are one of the best parts of the Christmas season in England. They have been a tradition since the 1700s, and this was started so they could be left as gifts for Santa, along with a little brandy.
America serves cookies and milk; England serves pies and booze.
They originally did not start out as sweet pies, they used to have a savory filling. Along with the fruit, shredded meats like lamb or mutton were added, but that evolved into just the sweet filling today.
The custom from way back used to be, if you ate a mince pie every day from Christmas until January, you will happiness for the next year. This sounds like a great reason to eat lots of pies Christmas.
In England, there are two types of mince pies, sweet and savory. Now, this can get a little confusing so to discern one from the other, one might say ‘sweet mince pies’ when referring to the sweet, Christmas pie recipe.
They are not typically mentioned until the holidays, so when someone says mince pie all the other time of the year, they are referring to savory.
There is one ingredient that is in this recipe that is not traditional, and that is butter. Suet (which is beef fat) is always used in the U.K., and this comes in a shredded form.
Since suet is not readily available to me here in the U.S., I grated cold butter to give a similar effect, and seemed to work out well.
These sweet pies are delicious served with whipped cream, or just on their own with a snifter of brandy, just like Santa.
Mince Pies Recipe
- 4 Raisins
- 4 Dried Currants
- 0.33 Brandy
- 1 Honey Crisp Apple peeled and finely chopped
- 2 Candied Peel finely chopped
- 3 Unsalted Butter
- 0.25 Dark Brown Sugar
- 0.25 Ground Cinnamon
- 0.25 Grated Nutmeg
- 0.25 Allspice
- 1.5 All-Purpose Flour
- 0.25 Salt
- 3 Granulated Sugar
- 4 Butter cold until ready to use, 1 stick
- Cold Water
- 2 Unsalted Butter melted
- Add the raisins, sultanas and currants to a bowl and stir in the brandy. Allow to soak for 1 hour.
- After 1 hour add the raisins, sultanas, currants, and the rest of the filling ingredients in a bowl.
- Mix well then transfer to a container with a lid and refrigerate overnight.
- Sift the flour and salt into a mixing bowl, add the sugar and butter and press into the flour while cutting up the butter until it looks like fine breadcrumbs.
- Add the cold water a little at a time while mixing until the dough comes together to form a ball. Transfer to a floured surface and knead slightly, then form into a ball.
- Wrap the ball in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
- Brush each cup of a 12-muffin pan with melted butter.
- Preheat oven to 375°F.
- After 30 minutes roll the dough out very thin, 1/8-inch thick, onto a floured surface.
- Cut 12 rounds with a 4-inch cookie cutter or large glass or mug and press each round into each of the muffin pan cups.
- Prick the bottom of each pastry round with a fork. Fill each pastry cup with filling.
- Re-roll out the remaining dough and cut 12 more pieces of pastry. I used mini Christmas cookie shapes.
- Place each piece of dough over the tops of the pies and brush the pastry with the remaining melted butter.
- Bake in the center of the oven for 23 minutes.