Did you know that there is an old medieval Christmas saying that if you eat a mince pie on each of the 12 days of Christmas you will have good luck and happiness for the next 12 months? What are you waiting for – there’s still time to bake a batch before Christmas Day!
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Festive Christmas mince pies
I love Christmas mince pies, and the melt-in-the-mouth pastry encasing deliciously fruity mincemeat. I’m always on the lookout for the first mince pies to hit the shops. This year I believe it was early October 🙂
I always make my own mince pies too of course, but I’ve never quite managed to get the same texture in the pastry as shop-bought. Until this year that is. This recipe for Christmas mince pies is a winner. The pastry is so soft and flaky and buttery that you won’t want to stop eating them.
The secret is in the butter. You need to chill the butter in the freezer before you mix it into the pastry, and chill the pastry in the fridge before you roll it. That way the butter stays cold and doesn’t melt into the flour. It only melts once you put it into the oven, which give the lovely flaky texture we are looking for.
I’ve mentioned the tradition of eating one mince pie on each of the 12 days of Christmas. But there’s another tradition that is just as important. Santa loves mince pies (why do you think he’s so fat?) and you should leave one out for him on Christmas Eve while he’s delivering the presents. And don’t forget a carrot for his reindeer!
Ingredients for Christmas Mince Pies
You can get the complete list of ingredients and full instructions on how to make this recipe on the printable recipe card at the end of this post.
Christmas mince pies are made with sweetcrust pastry, otherwise known as pate sucree. This is a rich buttery pastry which is made by creaming the butter and sugar together, before mixing in the eggs and flour. This is different to the traditional shortcrust pastry which is made by rubbing the butter into the flour first, and binding with water.
Making the pastry in this way gives a delicious flaky buttery texture, which is what mince pies are all about.
You will need
- 1 jar of your favourite shop-bought fruit mincemeat. Buy a good quality mincemeat, you’ll be glad you did.
- Small amount of icing sugar for sprinkling.
- 1 small beaten egg for eggwashing the mince pies before baking
For the sweetcust pastry
- 375g plain flour or g . Use plain flour – this pastry does not require any levening agent.
- 225g butter or 6 oz. Keep the butter in the freezer and then chop it up with a sharp knife before mixing with the sugar.
- 125g caster sugar or 4.5 oz. If you don’t have caster sugar you can use granulated sugar, but whizz it around in the food processor for a minute or two to grind it to a finer powder.
- 1 large egg yolk. This helps bind the dough together.
- 1/2 teaspoon salt. If you can’t eat salt you can omit this.
How to make Christmas Mince Pies
Make the sweetcrust pastry
You can make this pastry either in a food processor or by hand in a mixing bowl. If you want to do it by hand, you can, but it will just take a bit longer to mix.
- Chop the butter into small blocks and place in the food processor along with the sugar.
- Set the food processor running and allow to mix until the butter and sugar are well combined and there are no grains of sugar visible.
- Separate the egg and add the yolk to the butter mixture. Process until the mixture is pale yellow and creamy.
Tip – whenever you separate egg and don’t know what to do with the egg white, just freeze it. When you have sufficient egg whites you can defrost in the fridge and then use them to make meringues.
- Now add the sifted flour and pulse until the mixture starts to come together. If you squeeze a spoonful of the mixture in your hand and it sticks together then it is ready to be removed from the food processor.
- If it doesn’t stick together, or seems too dry, add 1 tablespoon of water and pulse again. Don’t add too much water or your dough will be sticky.
- Tip the mixture onto a floured surface and squeeze it together until it forms a ball.
- Flatten into a disk, wrap in cling film and place in the fridge for at least half an hour to let the butter harden and to relax the gluten.
- The previous step is very important. If you don’t rest the pastry you will find that it will be difficult to roll and will crack as you roll it.
Assemble the mince pies
- For this recipe I like to use a 12-hole jam-tart tin (see Equipment section further down this post). This recipe is sufficient for 24 mince pies so you will either have to bake a double batch, or, if your oven is large enough, use 2 tins to and bake them both at the same time.
- Remove the pastry from the fridge, unwrap the cling film and place on pastry on a lightly floured surface.
- Take half of the pastry and roll it out gently, until it is about 1/8″ thick.
- Using a round cutter, cut circles in the pastry large enough to fill each hole.
- Place about a tablespoon of mincemeat on each pastry circle.
- Now roll the rest of the pastry and using a smaller cutter, cut lids from the pastry.
- Take a cup of water and dip your finger in it. Moisten the edge of each of the pies in the muffin tin and then place the lid on top. Press gently around the edges to seal.
- Prick the top of the pies with a fork to make holes to allow the steam to escape as they bake.
- Brush each pie with beaten egg to encourage them to brown in the oven.
- If you want a crunchier pie, you could sprinkle with icing sugar before baking.
Bake the mince pies
- Pre-heat oven to 190C / 375F.
- Place the tray in the pre-heated oven and bake for 12 – 15 minutes until the mince pies are golden brown. Keep your eye on them. This pastry burns very easily. Don’t allow them to get too brown or the pastry will turn hard and crispy, like a biscuit, instead of being soft and buttery.
- Remove from the oven and let cook in the tin, then sprinkle with icing sugar and enjoy.
Don’t forget to check out my handy Cookery Conversion Calculator if you want to convert any of your recipe measurements from grams to cups, ounces, tablespoons or millilitres and vice versa. You can also use the calculator for converting oven temperatures between Fahrenheit, Celsius and Gas marks.
If you live at a high altitude you may find you need to adjust your baking recipes to compensate for this. You can read all about it in this post on baking at high altitudes.
Recipe – Christmas Mince Pies
Christmas Mince Pies
(Click the stars to rate this recipe)
- 2½ cups (350g) plain flour/cake flour sifted
- 8 oz (225g) butter cubed
- 9 tablespoons (125g) caster sugar
- 1 large egg yolk
- 1 to 2 Tablespoons ice cold water if required
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 28 oz (800g) fruit mincemeat large jar from supermarket
- 1 small beaten egg to glaze
- Icing sugar to sprinkle (optional)
- Additional flour for rollling the pastry
Make the sweetcrust pastry
- Cut the butter into cubes and place it with the caster sugar into a food processor
- Turn on the food processor and allow the butter and sugar to cream together.
- Add the egg yolks and continue to process until the mixture turns into a pale yellow paste.
- Add the flour and process until the mixture starts to just come together in a ball. If you think you need additional water, add 1 tablespoon at a time.
- Tip the mixture onto a floured surface and press it together into a ball.
- Shape into a disk, wrap in cling film and place in the fridge to chill and relax.
Assemble and fill the mince pies
- Grease a 12-hole tart pan with a little butter, or spray lightly with an oil spray.
- Remove the pastry from the fridge and cut in quarters.
- Place one quarter of the pastry on a floured surface and roll into a circle, roughly ⅛ inch thick.
- Cut circles from the dough, and use to line your tart pan.
- Place 1 tablespoon of mincemeat into each pastry case.
- Roll the second quarter of the pastry in the same way, and cut smaller disks to form the lids of the mince pies
- Moisten the edges of the filled cases with a little water and place the lids on top. Press gently all around to seal.
- Prick the lid of each mince pie with a fork to allow the steam to escape and then brush with egg wash.
- Place in the pre-heated oven and allow to bake for 12 to 15 minutes until golden.
- Remove from the oven and allow to cool. Sprinkle with icing sugar.
- Repeat with the remaining pastry to make another 12 pies.
I am not a nutritionist. The nutrition information has been calculated using an on-line calculator, and is intended for information and guidance purposes only. If the nutrition information is important to you, you should consider calculating it yourself, using your preferred tool.
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