While I am hoping you have all emerged from the festive period with some ambitious (or perhaps not so ambitious) resolutions for the New year, my apologies in advance for this post – I am already blogging about the next Christmas theme. And quite a British one at that. I for one had never heard of mince pies before I came to live in the UK. And when I first had them I was left wondering, where is the meat? Well, they used to contain meat in late medieval Britain, the amount of which got gradually reduced in favour of dried fruit and spices and by 1900 they wouldn’t contain any meat at all anymore.
A day before Christmas last year (that is 2018!) I found myself wandering (and wondering) round in circles at Wilko’s in pursuit of furtive little biscuit cutters. But all I could find was a bundle of ten plastic ones for £2. Not surprisingly, I did not make that purchase.
I just wanted simple, stainless steel round ones. As it was Christmas Eve there wasn’t much time left to get them done in time. I had already bought some lovely mincemeat from my favourite organic food shop and café in our area and a friend had given me a mince pie tin.
As I looked around and had ended up in the same place for the nth time (luckily baby was asleep in her carrier) I suddenly had this idea to use tops of jam jars. It pretty much came out of nowhere and I wasn’t too sure at first but just watch: they might not be picture perfect, but definitely they were good enough for my standard of home baking.
You will need two different sizes of jam top jars and the standard size fits exactly (I wonder why that might be…). 7 cm or 2 3/4″ for the base and 5 1/2 cm or 2 1/8″ for the top fits the standard mince pie tin. I used a Frank Cooper’s Orange Marmalade for the base and a Cirio Tomato passata for the top.
To make the pastry, you will need 225g/6oz/2 cups plain flour, 30g/1 1/3oz/scant 1/3 cup icing sugar and 150g/5oz/ generous 1 cup butter. I like to add some cinnamon (10ml/2 tsp) and grated zest of 1 orange. If you cannot get any organic oranges, leave them in a bicarbonate soda solution of about 1 tsp to 1 l of warm to hot water to make them really clean.
#1 Press them the top down on thinly (5 mm/ 1/4″) rolled out pastry.
#2 Remove it and lift it with a palette knife.
#3 Place the base in a lightly greased mince pie tin, fill them up with the mincemeat and seal them with the pastry you have cut out with the smaller jam jar tops. Then pop them into the fridge for 30 min.
#4 And this is what the result looks like after baking them for 15-20 min in a 200 C/400 F/Gas 6 preheated oven.
Happy New Year!