Mince pies

Christmas joke alert! Q) Who hides in the bakery at Christmas? A) A mince spy!

Sorry about that, normal service has now resumed. These mince pies are delicious – light crumbly almond pastry, and the usual fruity filling (no, I don’t make that bit). I don’t actually own a fairy cake tin, so I make these in a muffin tin, so they are really deep filled, and really deeply yummy. Makes about 12, depending on decorations.

Ingredients

400g plain flour

90g caster sugar + extra

150g ground almonds

1 tsp almond extract

2 large eggs, beaten

250g unsalted butter – not really cold

600g mincemeat

Method

  1. Sieve the flour into a large bowl, and mix in the caster sugar and ground almonds.
  2. Chop the butter into small cubes, then use your fingertips to rub it into the dry ingredients, lifting and pushing it between your thumbs and fingers, until the mix resembles damp sand / breadcrumbs.
  3. Make a well in the centre and pour in the eggs and almond extract, then use a fork to start combining the whole lot into a soft dough.
  4. Gently use your hands to bring the dough into a ball, then wrap in clingfilm and leave it in the fridge for 30 minutes.
  5. Grease your muffin tin, then tear off 15cm by 2cm (ish) strips of greaseproof paper and stick them to the butter at the bottom of each hole – these are slings to enable you to lift out each pie later.
  6. Cut around 1/4 of the dough from the main ball (return the rest to the fridge), and place it between two pieces of cling film, and roll it out to around 4mm thick. Peel back the top layer of cling film and use a pastry cutter bigger than the muffin tin holes (mine was 9cm diameter) and cut out as many bases as possible, re-rolling the pastry when needed.
  7. Gently press the pastry into the tin holes, on top of each strip of greaseproof.
  8. Chuck the tin in the fridge while you repeat steps 6 & 7 until all the pies have bases.
  9. Spoon in your mincemeat to be not quite level with the top of your pastry cases. Return the tin to the fridge again. The fridge dance is necessary because this pastry warms up very quickly and that’s not good.
  10. Use a pastry cutter the same size as your tin holes (mine was 7cm diameter) to cut out lids in the same manner as before, and put them on top of the pies, gently pressing the edges together to seal them.
  11. If you feel like it, top with pastry stars.
  12. Return to the fridge for another 30 minutes.
  13. Heat oven to 170C.
  14. Bake for 20-22 mins or so until the pastry is cooked.
  15. Once taken out of the oven, sprinkle over a little extra caster sugar.
  16. Leave to cool a little in the tin, then give yourself a pat on the back for putting in the greaseproof slings so you can get them out of the tin and scoff them!

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