Take: 1 batch of sweet pastry; some mincemeat; a little milk or eggwash; icing sugar.

For the mincemeat, you can use ready-made – about half a normal-sized jar is enough – or make your own. We used a recipe (my Dad’s) which involves putting all the following ingredients in a big bowl and mixing it up: 4oz each of suet (vegetarian if you prefer), mixed peel, raisins, sultanas, currants, finely chopped apple*, and brown sugar; the zest and juice of 1 orange and 1 lemon**; 1 wineglass each of brandy and rum***. This recipe makes easily enough for at least 3 dozen mince pies. Conveniently, what is left after making 1 dozen will just about squash into a pudding basin.

(* We just used 1 apple, I assume it was about the right amount.)
(** We used a couple of tbsps of lemon juice because we didn’t have a lemon.)
(*** We used a couple of tbsps of brandy and some orange juice, because I didn’t want a drunken Ariel. I think if you follow the recipe it would be very very boozy…)

So much for the ingredients. To the pies.

You will need one of those baking trays with 12 hollows in. I think they are called muffin trays.

You will also need two pastry cutters of different sizes, depending on the size of the hollows in your tray. We have what I assume is a standard sized tray, and used 88mm (3 and 7/16 inches) (what kind of size is that!) and one that didn’t have the size written on but which I would guess is have measured (!) and is about 70mm (about 2 and 7/8 inches…). Crinkle-edged cutters are nice, but not compulsory :)

Oh, and a pastry brush!

So much for the equipment. To the pies.

1. Put your oven on – about 200C.
2. Divide the pastry into two, in about a 60-40 ratio.
3. Roll out the larger lump of pastry on a floured surface and use the larger pastry cutter to make 12 bottoms. You will have to re-roll to get 12 bottoms.
4. Place the bottoms carefully in each hollow, use your fingers to gently push the pastry into the hollow, then put about 1 dsp of mincemeat into each bottom.
5. Roll out the smaller lump of pastry, and use the smaller cutter to make 12 tops (again, you will have to re-roll).
6. Place the tops carefully on top of each pie and press down the edges gently onto the edges of the pastry bottoms.
7. Use a pastry brush to brush the milk or eggwash over the top of each pie.
8. Sprinkle icing sugar extravagantly over the lot.
9. Bake for about 20 mins (until golden brown) then take them out of the oven and carefully transfer them to a cooling rack. Don’t eat them immediately as they will be too hot and the pastry too soft – you have enough time for a bath :-)

Makes – 12, silly.

TIPS – eat as many as you can before anyone else gets the chance. I’ve already had 3, and it would have been more if they weren’t so far away from my desk ;)

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