Star-topped Mince Pies

It’s Christmas Eve Eve and Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without some delicious mince pies. I’ve been trying to perfect mine this month and have made a few batches.

The first were too thick and the lids didn’t fit so all the filling spilled out. The second were still too thick and the pastry overworked. The third I tried ready made sweet shortcrust pastry – not as nice and went soggy quite quickly.

My fourth and final batch have hit on the winning formula – make a plain shortcrust pastry by hand, chill it for about 45 minutes and roll it out nice and thin (about 2-3mm should do it). It was nice and easy to work with this way and I experimented with some star shaped lids. Ok, so they don’t look perfect, but that’s the charm of a homemade mince pie, surely?!

Here is my recipe, taken from Peyton & Byrne’s British Baking (such a good baking book).

Happy Christmas Everyone!

Star mince pies

Star-topped Mince Pies
Makes approx 10 – 12 pies

220g plain flour
100g cold unsalted butter, cut into 1cm cubes
Pinch of salt
3tbsp cold water
Approx 1/2 jar of mincemeat (use the best quality you can get)
Milk for brushing the tops of the pies
Icing sugar for dusting

– Sift the flour into a large bowl with the butter and salt and, using the back of a fork, gently work the mixture together until it resembles course sand and there a no large lumps of butter left.

– Sprinkle the water over the mixture and use your fingers to bring it together into a dough. Bring the dough together into a ball, wrap in clingfilm and chill in the fridge for 45 minutes.

– Grease a 12 hole muffin tin and preheat the oven to 200C/180C fan.

– Remove the dough from the fridge and turn out onto a lightly floured surface. Use a lightly floured rolling pin to roll the dough out until 2-3mm thick.

– Take a 9cm round cutter and a star shaped cutter (measure this against the holes on your muffin tin to make sure that it will be big enough – the tips of the stars will need to meet the edges of the bases) and cut out one circle followed by one star, repeating until all the pastry has been used up. Bring the trimmings together and roll out once more. Cut out some further shapes. By cutting out the shapes alternately, you can make sure you have enough lids for all the bases.

– Gently push the round bases into the greased muffin tin. Spoon in 1/2 tsp – 1 tsp of mincemeat so that the bases are just covered. Don’t overfill the cases or the mincemeat will overflow during baking.

– Dampen the edges of the pies with water and the tips of the stars, one by one. Place a star onto each of the pie bases and pinch the edges together to seal. Brush the tops with a little milk and bake in the centre of the oven for 25 – 30 minutes, until golden brown.

– Remove from the oven and leave to cool in the tin for a few minutes to cool. Using a tablespoon or dessert spoon, gently remove the pies and set onto a wire rack to cool fully. Dust the tops with icing sugar for a festive finishing touch.

– Alternatively serve warm with some ice cream or brandy butter.

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