Christmas Mince Pies are traditionally eaten during the Christmas holidays. You cannot set foot in an Irish home over Christmas and not be fed your fill of homemade Christmas mince pies. With many different recipes every household has their own secret one.
Traditional Christmas mince pies
Many traditions exist as to the making of Christmas mince pies, one sadly no longer exists but due to safety reasons one can see why, a 6 pence used to be stirred into the mixture of the mince pies and the person who found the 6 pence in their Christmas mince-pie was said to have luck all year.
One still exists well in this household anyway; whist making the mincemeat every member of the household will come and stir the mixture.
In Ireland we can buy jars of ready-made Mincemeat but a lot of homes, like ours, still like to make it themselves. Some people find that using all suet can make the mincemeat stodgy and heavy so some households substitute half the suet for real Irish butter.
Ingredients to making your own mincemeat
- 1 lb (450 g) Bramley apples, cored and chopped small (no need to peel them)
- 8 oz (225 g) shredded suet
- 12 oz (350 g) raisins
- 8 oz (225 g) sultanas
- 8 oz (225 g) currants
- 8 oz (225 g) whole mixed candied peel, finely chopped
- 12 oz (350 g) soft dark brown sugar
- grated zest and juice 2 oranges
- grated zest and juice 2 lemons
- 2 oz (50 g) whole almonds, cut into slivers
- 4 level teaspoons mixed ground spice
- ½ level teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ¼ level teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- 6 teaspoons of Brandy
How to make your own mincemeat
All you do is combine all the ingredients, except for the brandy, in a large mixing bowl, stirring them and mixing them together very thoroughly indeed. Then cover the bowl with a clean cloth and leave the mixture in a cool place overnight or for 12 hours, so the flavours have a chance to mingle and develop.
After 12 hours pre-heat the oven to gas mark ¼, 225°F (110°C). Cover the bowl loosely with foil and place it in the oven for 3 hours, then remove the bowl from the oven. Don’t worry about the appearance of the mincemeat, which will look positively swimming in fat. This is how it should look.
As the mincemeat cools, stir it from time to time; the fat will coagulate and, instead of it being in tiny shreds, it will encase all the other ingredients. When the mincemeat is quite cold, stir well again, adding the brandy.
Pack the cooled mincemeat in jars that have been sterilised (see below). When filled, cover with waxed discs and seal. The mincemeat will keep for ages in a cool, dark cupboard – I have kept it for up to 3 years.
Vegetarians can make this mincemeat happily, using vegetarian suet. And if you don’t want the full quantity, make half.
NOTE: To sterilise jars, wash the jars and lids in warm soapy water, rinse well, then dry thoroughly with a clean teacloth, place them on a baking tray and pop into a medium oven, gas mark 4, 350°F, 180°C, for 5 minutes.
Recipe for traditional Christmas Mince Pies
Mince Pies can be made using Sweet Shortcrust Pastry but this version goes down a storm with all my family and friends and are so moreish it’s a wonder there’s any left for Santa.
You will need the following ingredients:
- Some of your homemade mincemeat or a 410g jar of readymade mincemeat
- If using the jar variety you will need 2tbsp of Brandy or Sherry
- 500g packet of readymade puff pastry
- Beaten egg for glaze
- Superfine sugar for dredging
- Fluted pastry wheel
- Baking sheet
How to make traditional Christmas Mince Pies
- Set oven to 220⁰C or gas mark 7.
- Stir in the Brandy to the mincemeat if needed.
- Divide the pastry into two pieces and roll each one out to a rectangle of approximately 30x15cm.
- On one sheet of the pastry place rounded teaspoons of the mincemeat in rows and brush water between each spoonful of mincemeat.
- Place the other sheet of the pastry over the top and press down well between the spoonfuls of mincemeat to create the square shapes. Now roll the pastry wheel to cut the mince pies into square shapes. Slash through the pastry tops using a small sharp knife making 3-4 small diagonal cuts on each one.
- Place the pies on a baking sheet and brush with the beaten egg glaze. Sprinkle a little of the superfine sugar on top of each pie and bake towards the top of the oven for 12-15 minutes until well risen and an even golden color.
Best served warm.
The pies should be eaten within 2 days, just pop them in oven for a few minutes before serving just to heat them through.
Although Christmas mince pies did not originate in Ireland they eaten as part of Christmas traditions in Ireland.