Saturday, 15 December 2012

Christmas Countdown Day 15

Christmas Countdown Day 15
Mince Pies

Mince Pies are a great part of British Christmas fare. We eat millions of these sweet, tiny pies every year! The pies contain mincemeat. The name is slightly misleading; there isn't any meat in the pies these days, though originally they did contain some minced meat, and were often called Christmas pies or minced pies. These days the only trace of meat in the pies is the suet, which is actually usually of vegetable rather than bovine origin, but some mincemeats still contain the traditional beef suet. The other ingredients in mincemeat include, apples, dried fruits, sugar and spices, they may have some booze in them, brandy being traditional, but anything would probably work!

It seems likely that the original pies strange mix of meat, spices, sugar and fruit comes form Tudor England, where savoury food was often mixed with sugar and spices in wealthy households, these were expensive luxuries, and a sweet spicy pie was an excellent way of showing off to your guests how rich you were! I can imagine Elizabeth I tucking into a Christmas Minced Pie!

The Victorians (yes, them again!) were the ones who reduced the meat content and increased the sugar and fruit content to evolve into the mince pies we munch over the festive period today.

People used to say that eating one mince pie on each day from Christmas to Twelth Night would bring good luck for the following year, but not if you intend to go on a diet for your New Year's Resolution!! ;o)

The supermarkets in the UK are filled with mincemeat at Christmas, I am not sure if it sells well abroad. The quality and sweetness vary, but even a basic mince meat can be enlivened with some sharp apples, lemon and orange zest and a drop of your favourite tipple!

Here is a recipe I copied from BBC Good Food online for mince pies.


Preparation method

  1. Lightly butter a 12-hole pie or patty tin. Tip the mincemeat into a bowl and stir so that the liquid is evenly distributed.
  2. Place the flour, sugar, almonds and butter in a food processor and process briefly until resembling breadcrumbs, then slowly add the egg through the feeder tube. (Or rub the butter into the dry ingredients by hand and stir in the egg.)
  3. Bring the mixture together with your hands, wrap in clingfilm and chill for an hour or so. Thinly roll out the pastry on a floured surface. Cut out 12 circles with a fluted pastry cutter, large enough to fill the base of the prepared tin. Press gently into each hole, then fill with the mincemeat.
  4. Cut out another 12 slightly smaller discs and use to cover the mincemeat. Press the edges together to seal. Make a small slit in the top of each, then brush lightly with milk. Chill for about 30 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas 6.
  5. Bake the pies for 20 minutes until golden brown. Remove to a wire rack and serve warm.

    If you want to make your own mincemeat, see this link for a great recipe!

Of course, The Swan Inn has to have some mince pies for Christmas! I bought this pretty little plateful made by Delph Miniatures. (

Perhaps your dolls' house residents would prefer to make their own? This miniature mince pie prep board is available from


  1. I am a Big fan of Mince Pies!!! And they really are NOT available over here unless you make them yourself! You can usually find the jars of mince filling in the specialty stores.... Hmmm, I think I will have to indulge this year!!!
    The mini versions are Delightful!!!

  2. Hi Andy, you can find mince pies in all the South African grocery stores, the ones from Woolworths are by far the best, mmh, okay, you've done it, the taste buds are demanding a shopping trip later today :-)

  3. YUM, YUM, YUM!!!!

    Best post eva!!! I just love your miniature version and those pictures are making my mouth water!! bring on Christmas!!

    It's hard to imagine eating mince pies in this heat but I think I'm going to give it a try!!

    Fi xx

    P.S thanks for the recipe xx

  4. Hola Andy, he leído todos tus relatos de la Navidad, me han encantado. Siempre es un placer visitar tu blog y leer tus entradas, son tan pedagógicas e instructivas que da gusto recrearse en ellas. Besos y ¡ Feliz Navidad !

  5. Tuve la oportunidad de probarlos el año pasado en mi viaje a Londres, y he de decir que están buenísimos!!!

  6. Wow, thanks for the recipe of the mincemeat. I have never heard of it and I surely want to try to make them. But to be honest: I can't read the green text, I am so sorry Andy.
    Nice purchase the prepboard!
    Hugs, Ilona

  7. Hello Andy,
    Thanks for the recipe...I can't wait to try it out.
    Big hug,