Cranberry Mince Pies
Christmas means my cranberry mince pies. Well, it means stuffing and bread sauce and sprouts and all that too, but mince pies are high on the list.
Mince pies are not savoury, as some of my non-British friends think, and of course I don’t blame them, the name is very confusing and I’m sure if they were invented today we’d be done under the trades description act for calling them Mince Pies. Originally they were savoury – here’s a bit of Mince Pie History if you’re interested.
Now though, they’re sweet, the best kind of sweet. Spicy, warm and full of all those flavours and smells we associate with the winter and the festive season.
Thing is though, the only mince pies I can buy here in Amsterdam are the worst of the mass produced type. You know the ones a mean, flimsy too sweet pastry with a watery filling. Not for me. So, a few years ago I hit the cook books and did the research. I came up with my ultimate cranberry mince pie recipe. Okay, it takes time, but I promise you it’s so worth it. And, you can freeze these little beauties if you want to make them ahead or if you believe, as I do, that a mince pie, like a puppy, is not just for Christmas.
Recipe for Cranberry Mince Pies
Mincemeat Preparation: 15 minutes
Mincemeat Maceration/Chill Time: 24 hours
Pastry Preparation: 15 minutes
Pastry Chilling: 1 to 2 hours
Mince Pie Preparation: 20 minutes
Mince Pie Baking: 20 to 25 minutes
These Quantities make 24 Deep Filled Cranberry Mince Pies
For the Mincemeat
200gr / 7 oz. light muscovado sugar
200gr / 7 oz. cranberry compote
2 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp nutmeg
100gr / 3.5 oz. raisins
100gr / 3.5 oz. sultanas
200gr / 7 oz. dried cranberries
1 orange, zest and juice
1 lemon, zest and juice
50ml / 1.7 fl. oz. cognac
1 apple, peeled, cored and grated
125gr / 4.5 oz. butter, frozen and then grated. Do the grating last, just before you mix everything together.
For the Pastry
550gr / 1.2 lb. plain flour
200gr / 7 oz. butter, softened and cubed
200gr / 7 oz. icing sugar
A pinch (about a quarter of a teaspoon) of salt
Egg Wash for the Pastry
1 tbsp of milk
1 x egg yolk
To finish, some icing sugar to sprinkle over the cooked mince pies
How to make the mincemeat
- Chop the sultanas, raisins and cranberries until they are about half or a third of their original size. You don’t have to do this, but I feel that you get a better mouthful of all the flavours if you do.
- Place all the ingredients, except for the butter in your mixing bowl and stir through until everything is even. Then grate your butter straight from the freezer and mix this through. You may find that the butter clumps a little, if it does, I think that the best way to get it mixed through evenly, is with your hands. It’s a bit squidgy and squelchy, but good fun too.
- Cover your bowl with some cling film and put it in the fridge for 24 hours to macerate.
- After this time, remove and use straight away, or put into jars until you are ready to use it.
- The mincemeat will keep for as long as your butter is good, so check the expiry date on the packet.
How to make the pastry
- Place the flour, butter, salt and icing sugar in a large bowl and rub together through your fingers until the mix becomes like breadcrumbs.
- Add the eggs and bring together. I do this at first with a wooden spoon and then move on to using my hands. Work it until it becomes a ball, then remove from your bowl and knead it, just two or three times on a cool surface. By this I mean just 2 or 3 kneading movements, that’s all. This dough is quite sticky and can be a little difficult. If it is just too sticky to get into a ball, add a small amount of flour, but only a tablespoon or maximum two, you don’t want to dilute the sweetness too much.
- Wrap your ball of sweet dough in cling film and chill in the fridge for one to two hours.
To Bake The Cranberry Mince Pies
You will need
- 2 xmuffin style baking trays, each containing space for 12 cakes. These depressions should measure 8cm 3 in. in diameter and be 3.5cm / 1.5 in. deep.
- A cutter with a diameter of 11.5cm / 4.5 in.
- A cutter with a star or snowflake or other festive design which covers most, not all of the top of your mince pie.
- These pieces of equipment are measured up to work with quantities in this recipe, if you have other types of materials, these will work just as well, but you may find that you have some mincemeat or pastry left over or that you don’t quite manage the exact quantity as shown above.
- Pre-heat your oven to 180°C / 350°F.
- Grease your tray, only in the depressions of course. The easiest way to do this is to take a piece of greaseproof paper and rub it on your stick or pat of butter, then rub it in each cake space in your baking tray, being careful to cover all the surface area with which the pastry will come into contact. Alternatively, if you have the paper in which your butter was packaged, use this to rub around the baking area.
- On a floured surface, roll out your pastry until it is about 2mm / 0.08in to 3mm / 0.10 in. thick. Using your round cookie cutter, cut out the shapes and the decorative shapes you need. You can bring the pastry scraps together in a ball and keep rolling and cutting as much as you need.
- Press the pastry discs into their baking areas, carefully, but with enough firmness that they sit evenly. Try not to press too much as this will make the pastry too thin. Place about a tablespoon of your mincemeat into each pastry lined base, pat is with the back of your spoon, gently, so that it is even. Leave about 3mm / 0.10 in. of a rim so that the mix doesn’t bubble over whilst cooking and so that you get a nice ratio of pastry to mincemeat.
- Place your decorative lids on top of each pie, in the centre, then brush the pastry of each pie, not forgetting the exposed sides, with your egg wash.
- Place in the oven for up to 25 minutes but check them after 15. They are ready when you can see your mincemeat bubbling and the pastry has turned golden brown and crispy.
- Once cooled, remove from the baking tray and give your mince pies a light dusting of icing sugar.
Tips and Variations
- For a longer lasting mincemeat, use suet instead of butter, remember though that this version will no longer be suitable for vegetarians.
- For the quickest version of mince pies, you can use ready-made puff pastry and shop bought mincemeat. To liven up shop bought mincemeat add some lemon or orange zest.
- You can add some peeled, chopped almonds to your mincemeat mix.
- The mince pies can be eaten warm or cold. Serve them as they are, or with cream, double or pouring, some crème fraîche, or even custard.
- Mince pies are just as nice enjoyed with a cup of tea or coffee as they are with a glass of whisky or brandy.
- The mince pies will keep for 3 or 4 days before the pastry starts to go a little soft.
- The pastry dough can be frozen and used at a later date or you can keep it in the fridge for 3 or 4 days before using.
- Once baked, the mince pies can be frozen too.
- If you don’t have time to make this recipe or are just looking for an easy version, try my Mince Pie Puffs.