At home, I make mince pies only in December, but I discovered on the cake stall that they are popular all winter. For Christmas, I cut out a star shape from the pastry lids before covering the mincemeat and baking. Not only does this look attractive but it’s then easy to add a touch of festive spirit to the hot mince pies by trickling rum or brandy into them just before serving. For speed, a high-quality bought mincemeat can be used, though the home-made kind is naturally rather more delicious and distinctive.
7.5 cm / 3 in. and 6.5 cm / 2½ in. fluted pastry cutters; patty tins – buttered
Sift the flour and sugar into a bowl, cut and rub in the butter with the grated citrus zest until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Mix to a soft dough with the milk and shape it into a ball. If you have time, rest the pastry under an upturned bowl or chill it, wrapped, in the fridge for 30 minutes. This allows the gluten to be released from the flour making the dough easier to handle.
On a floured board, roll out just over half the pastry to
Roll out the rest of the pastry and use the smaller cutter to cut out another 12 discs for lids. Brush milk over the underside of each lid and place over the mincemeat, making sure it’s central. Press down gently at the edge to join the two pastry layers. Brush milk over the top of each pie and sprinkle with sugar.
Bake in the preheated oven until the pastry is golden brown. Cool the pies in their tins for 10 minutes then transfer to a plate for serving straight away or on to a wire rack to cool.
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