According to a Middle Ages custom, if you eat a mince pie every day from Christmas day until Twelfth Night (6 January) you will have happiness for the whole year – what a wonderful excuse to indulge in these spiced, fruit-filled pies. Eat them at room temperature or straight from the oven with ice-cream, cream or brandy sauce.
- granulated sugar, to sprinkle
- 2 small (about 150 g each) Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and coarsely grated
- 130 g (¾ cup) sultanas
- 115 g (¾ cup) currants
- 130 g (¾ cup) seedless raisins
- 75 g (½ cup) mixed peel or chopped glace apricots
- 50 g (⅓ cup) chopped blanched almonds
- 125 ml (½ cup) brandy or apple cider
- 1 orange, zest finely grated and juiced
- 1 lemon, zest finely grated and juiced
- 2 tsp mixed spice
- ½ tsp ground ginger
- ¼ tsp ground cloves
- 100 g (½ cup, loosely packed) dark brown sugar
- 60 g unsalted butter, coarsely grated
Sweet shortcrust pastry
- 600 g (4 cups) plain flour
- 125 g (1 cup) icing sugar, sifted
- 1 tsp baking powder
- ½ tsp salt
- 300 g chilled unsalted butter, diced
- 2 egg yolks
- 80-100 ml iced water
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Chilling time 20 minutes
Cooling time 50 minutes
You will need two 12-hole 80 ml (⅓ cup) muffin tins for this recipe.
To make the fruit mince, combine the grated apple, dried fruit, mixed peel, almonds, brandy or cider, orange and lemon zest and juice, and the spices in a medium saucepan. Cook over low heat, stirring occasionally for 20 minutes or until the excess liquid has evaporated. Remove from heat and set aside for 40 minutes or until cooled to room temperature.
Meanwhile, to make the pastry, place the flour, icing sugar, baking powder and salt in a medium mixing bowl. Add the chilled butter. With your palms facing upwards, use your fingertips to rub in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs. Use a fork to whisk together the egg yolk and 80 ml (⅓ cup) of the iced water and then sprinkle over the flour and butter mixture. Use a round-bladed knife in a cutting motion to mix until evenly combined and the mixture starts holding together. Press a little of the mixture between your fingers: if it holds together easily, there is no need to add more water. If it doesn’t, add the remaining 1 tbsp (20 ml) water and combine. The pastry should be soft but not sticky. Bring the pastry together with your hands and transfer to a lightly floured, cool benchtop. Lightly knead the pastry with your fingertips for about 30 seconds or until smooth and soft. Divide pastry into three portions. Shape each into a disc, wrap separately in plastic wrap and place in the fridge for 20 minutes to rest.
Preheat oven to 190°C (170°C fan-forced). Stir the sugar and butter through the cooled fruit mince.
Use a lightly floured rolling pin to roll out one portion of the pastry to 3 mm thick. Use a 9 cm plain round cutter to cut out 10 rounds, re-rolling the offcuts if needed and line 10 x 80 ml (⅓ cup) muffin tin holes, pressing into the sides and base with your fingertips (the pastry won’t reach to the top of the holes). Repeat with another portion of pastry to make another 10 pastry shells. Divide the fruit mince evenly among the pastry shells. Roll out the remaining pastry portion until 5 mm thick and use a 6.5 cm fluted round cutter to make the pie tops, re-rolling the off-cuts if needed. Use the end of a 7 mm piping nozzle to cut out a circle in the centre of each lid. Place a lid on top of each pie, and use your fingertips to gently ease the pastry out to meet the pastry case bases. Sprinkle each pie with a little granulated sugar.
Bake in preheated oven for 35 minutes or until the pastry is deep golden and cooked through. Remove from the oven and stand in the tin for 10 minutes to cool slightly before transferring to a wire rack. Serve warm or at room temperature. Sprinkle with a little more granulated sugar, if desired.
• These pies will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week.
• To reheat, place the pies back in the muffin holes and place in an oven preheated to 170°C (150°C fan-forced) for 10-15 minutes or until heated through.
Anneka's mission is to connect home cooks with the magic of baking, and through this, with those they love. Read our interview with her or for hands-on baking classes and baking tips, visit her at BakeClub. Don't miss what's coming out of her oven via Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.
Photography by Alan Benson. Styling by Sarah O'Brien. Food preparation by Tina McLeish.
For more recipes, view our online column, Bakeproof: Traditional Christmas baking.