What’s a Christmas dinner without mince pies? Everybody loves them. These tender tarts always somehow manage to complete Christmas meals with their scent and flavor. They’re so luxurious and rich with their crumbly pastry and vine fruit fillings. But what makes for a perfect mince pie recipe?
The Best Mince Pies
The best mince pies have delicate pastry and hot stuffing. They’re so fragile that they collapse in your hand. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. Some Christmas pies can be incredibly bad with dry pastry and sour filling. Curiously, this is often the case with tightfisted cooks. To make the best mince pie, you need to be generous with your butter and mincemeat. Unfortunately, preparing this pastry brings out the Scrooge in many people.
The best cooks make short pastry and packed with butter. They’d handle it with the gentlest hand and squeeze into it as much filling as they can. Mince pies have changed over the years. Nowadays, you can easily buy delicious filling from commercial brands; although, you can still make your own. Old school filling includes minced steak, mace, suet, and rosewater, but the modern version of this pie has raisins, lemon, nutmeg, and currants.
Some cooks and chefs prefer little round tarts. However, many people like the plate-sized pie with an open top. Of course, the pastry is thicker. Still, it’s the little pies that are often more tempting. You need not fiddle with patterns and shapes. You might want to stick to the classic little pies. They can be more tempting – and they’re incredibly charming. You just need to get the perfect pastry.
Many people like to add sugar to the pastry, but that’s just overkill. Modern pastries are often made with icing sugar. They’re also packed with egg yolks. These things are fine for acidic fillings but not ideal for mincemeat or sweet fillings.
So, should you go for shortcrust or puffs? Of course, after a couple of glasses of wine, you wouldn’t care if you’re eating puff or shortcrust. Puff pastry, however, is always better when it comes straight from the oven. Otherwise, the shortcrust is better. It reheats better than puff pastry.
Making Perfect Mince Pies
Here are some tips that you need to remember when making mince pies:
- If you choose to use shop-bought mincemeat, make sure to add extra flavorings like brandy, port or orange zest.
- Use a light dusting of flour to stop the pastry from sticking to the rolling pin. Avoid adding too much flour; they tend to dry out the dough. Roll out the pastry as few times as possible to avoid needing more flour.
- You don’t need to grease your tin because the pastry already contains a lot of butter. Just don’t be stingy with the butter.
- Make sure to use a light touch. When using a food processor, limit the use to processing the dough until it looks like breadcrumbs. Finish the process off by hand. Let the pastry rest for 20 minutes before you start rolling and cutting.
- Make the right size. You can opt for the standard size or mini muffin size.
- Consider your vegetarian guests and avoid using animal shortening. Stick to an all-butter pastry.
- If you’re short on time, you can always use premade fruit mince. Just make sure to get the quality ones. There is good quality premade mince available in gourmet food stores and even in some groceries or supermarkets. Of course, if you can make homemade fruit pies, they’re still the best.
- Make your pies ahead of time. This will give you enough time to make the best pies. Uncooked mince pies can last in the freezer for up to 2 months. Just store them in airtight containers.