Elizabeth asked me a few weeks ago to write a bit more about mincemeat pies, so I did a quick bit if research online and I'm afraid I didn't find out much more than I already know!
I did find out that what we call mincemeat is called fruit-mince in the US, a far more accurate term!
Nobody is sure for certain why mincemeat pies changed from containing different meats to just fruits. The spices are supposed to have been added after Crusaders brought them back from the east, and traditionally three spices were added to represent the three gifts of the Wise Men.
Anyway, today our mincemeat is made of dried fruit, spices, sometimes apple, sometimes suet and often a touch of brandy or whisky.
I use Nigella's Mincemeat recipe from How to be a Domestic Goddess.
My pastry recipe is:
8oz plain flour
4oz butter (Stork pastry butter is good)
1tbsp icing sugar
1 beaten egg
~Put the flour and butter into a food processor and blitz until it looks like breadcrumbs.
~Add the icing sugar and blitz again until mixed.
~With the motor on add the egg until the mixture turns into a ball of dough.
~Wrap the dough in clingfilm and chill in the fridge for about half an hour.
~Flour your worksurface and roll out the dough reasonably thinly, cut out rounds and place them in a shallow bun tray.
~Add a teaspoon or so of mincemeat to each pie.
~Re-roll the pastry and cut out little star shapes for the tops of the pies.
~Bake in the oven at 180C for about 15-20 minutes until golden and the mincemeat is bubbling.
~Cool on a cooling rack and sprinkle icing sugar over the top.
As an alternative to rolling out the pastry, I use my Pampered Chef Mini Tart Shaper. Then you just take little chunks of dough, roll them in a ball, pop the ball in your mini-tart tin, squish it with the wooden shaper and it makes a perfectly shaped pastry case for you! You can also get this at Lakeland (no I'm not on commission from them!)