Mum’s Christmas Mince Pies

In the lead-up to Christmas when I was a little girl we knew the big day was close when in the evening we would be dressed in our nighties and sitting in the family room doing puzzles or colouring-in when we’d hear the sound of carols coming from a big brass band.  We would run outside and there would be a flat-bed truck moving extremely slowly along the street and on the back of the truck would be the Salvation Army Band playing and singing Christmas Carols.  We would be so excited just standing there in our nighties and listening to the carolers and it was such an enviable sight it did make me wish to be a Salvation Army member when I grew up – if only for the once a year opportunity to stand on a flat-bed truck as it was being driven along as I  belted out some tunes.

Christmas Mince Pies

Christmas Mince Pies

Someone would jump out of the truck and go from door to door asking for a donation but I don’t think he had to go further than the footpath because all the residents would have left their homes to stand on the street and join in with the caroling, donation in hand.  It was the most fantastic unexpected surprise and gave us an opportunity to ignore everything we were doing to enjoy a few moments of unexpected entertainment.

SMP

It’s a messy but worthwhile process

Besides entertainment, Christmas meant baking and in the lead-up to Christmas my mother had many handed-down recipes she liked to prepare for the big day.  One special recipe was her mince pies.  She said the secret to a good mince pie is the pastry.  These mince pies were served on Christmas Eve, two to a serve, warmed from the oven, dusted with icing sugar and topped with a dollop of cream or ice cream.

_B1I6357Two of the best of the pies were reserved on a special plate for Santa.  These were put on a small plate and left on a side table close to the fireplace with a bottle of ginger ale to wash them down.  They must have been good because Santa always left nothing but a few crumbs.  And we know he appreciated the pies more than the ginger ale because while the pies were all gobbled up, Santa only managed a few sips of the beverage; maybe because it had gone warm.

But Santa aside, this recipe will make mince pies that all your guests will enjoy.  The pastry is extremely buttery, flaky, light and melt-in-the-mouth and goes so well with the sweetness of the fruit mince.

I’m carrying on the family tradition by making these and combining them with carols.  Tomorrow night I’m going to Carols by Candlelight and I’m taking the mince pies in my picnic basket.

Serve warm with cream or ice cream

Serve warm with cream or ice cream

Mum’s Christmas Mince Pies

Makes:  24

Degree of Difficulty:  3/5

Cost:  Not a lot really, for 24 pies and often you might have the dried fruit already in your pantry waiting to be used.

_B1I6364For the Fruit Mince:

  • 25og suet (Suet is the fat from around the kidneys and although once easily sourced it is now impossible to find.  A substitute is vegetable shortening but despite wearing the soles off my shoes in search of the shortening I couldn’t find that either.  I used 125g of butter – just enough to bind the ingredients)
  • 250g currants
  • 250g raisins
  • 250g sultanas
  • 125g mixed peel
  • 2 granny smith apples peeled and grated
  • 2 cups firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1 tspn mixed spice
  • Grated rind 1 lemon
  • 1/2 cup rum and brandy

Chop dried fruit and mix with other ingredients and melted butter by hand.  Mix well.  Pack into sterilised jars and seal with a lid.  Will keep for a few months so this is something you can make well in advance of the Christmas rush.

For the Pastry:

  • 1/2 lb (225g) butter
  • 1/2 lb (225g) flour
  • 1 tbspn vinegar
  • Pinch cream of tartar
  • 1 egg

Cut butter into flour then add rest of ingredients.  Mix with knife.  Put in fridge overnight.

_B1I6364To Make Pies:

Pre-heat oven to 180C (375F).

Grease two muffin tins.

Flour a board and roll pastry until a few millimetres thick.  Use an 8cm cutter to make the base of the pies and a 7cm cutter to make the top of the pies.

Place the pastry bases into each of the muffin tins then spoon a tablespoon of mixture onto the pastry base then top with pastry.

Place in the oven for 10-15 minutes or until slightly golden.  Allow to cool in tins before turning out onto a wire rack.

Serve warm with cream or ice cream.

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Comments

  1. How lovely, Charlie, carolers on a flatbed! We had carolers down on Bloor street in our hood but not on our street.
    These litte pies look wonderful and although I know suet adds a distinct flavour I’m pretty sure that I’d like yours better with butter better. Hope you had a great time caroling.
    It’s been pouring rain all night but I suppose it’s better than than snow!

  2. Never made minced pies, no idea they are so easy to make especially since the filling can be made ahead of time. Yours look so lovely.

  3. The mince pies are lovely as is the plate they are plated on. Looks like, perhaps, a family heirloom?

  4. Have a wonderful time caroling Charlie! We’re going tonight as well. The neighborhood kids/parents have all organized and will be out and about singing to the neighbors. It should be a blast. I would love to have some of these mince pies along. :) Merry Christmas to you and your family Charlie! :)

  5. WOW! What a beautiful photographs… so artistic. And yes, I am sure should be so delicious too. Thank you dear Charlie, you are amazing lady and doing great on this blog. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you and to your lovely family, love, nia

  6. These are delightful! Hungry again after seeing your pictures. Christmas childhood memories are the best – so pure and full of light! Thank you for sharing! Happy Holidays!

  7. I’ve never had a Mince Pie, but they look absolutely delicious! Maybe I’ll have to try them one of these days :)

  8. Charlie, your nostalgic post contains more than just pie filling… memories, celebrations, caroling, baking… all the stuff Christmas is made of! (The china plate looks like it has a story, too!) Thanks for this heartwarming look at your past — and present!

  9. I love family recipes and so glad you shared this. I’ve never made mince anything so I’m excited to try this. It truly sounds delicious and I love that you mentioned the pastry is light and buttery. Happy holidays!

  10. Love the memories. Those are the best part of any recipe and looks like this is a great family recipe. Laith asked for mince pies just the other day and since I’ve never made them, I’ve been looking for a recipe. Yours look beautiful and I love family recipes.

    Nazneen xx

  11. I’ve never actually tried making mine meat. It sounds interesting.

  12. I so love Christmas memories. And these pies are not only cute, but look delicious–as does that gorgeous plate. I’ve been traveling for the last couple of weeks, but wanted to take the time to wish you and yours happy, healthy, loving holidays!

  13. Delicious looking pies … is that clotted cream or butter on the plate beside them? I love that your tops are cut just slightly smaller than the bottoms so that they fit together so perfectly.

  14. I love your Christmas story. We also use to leave things out for Santa, it was always shortbread in our house. I love how everyone’s recipes for the same thing can be so different. Your mums minces pies sound fantastic!

  15. Mince Pies and Plum Pudding, the wicked things at Christmas…

  16. Charlie that sound so magical! I would love if something like that still happened. When we have a house maybe I’ll rent a truck and round up some carolers of my own. What a lovely tradition. x

  17. Salvation Army playing brought forth a childhood memory: the Estonian Lutheran Church was held every Sunday night in the German Lutheran Church premises in Goulburn Street, CBD Sydney, 100 steps from the then famous Mark Foy’s! The church still there: have posted but a few weeks back :) ! Well, every time our very quiet gathering could raise voice inside, the Salvos [about whom us newcomwers knew nought!] would begin with their very loud percussion and songs! But late on Sunday, the city was totally empty! What can I say: we learned to sing louder :D ! [Yup, very much believe in the Salvos, but I think there was a 'war' there :) !].

  18. Christmas Carols and mince pies – the best combination. I still remember the smell on Christmas Eve when my mum did her baking. I have continued the tradition and I love it – even if sometimes I have had to have the air conditioner on! Merry Christmas.

  19. These look wonderful, Charlie! I hope you and your family have a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

  20. I am making a confession. Bless me Father for I ate my FIRST mince pie yesterday. I’ve heard about them forever but never tried one. John brought some back from the bakery and said I should give it a go. Now I can’t wait to make some.

  21. Charlie, your photos are gorgeous. Nothing says Christmas like mince pies and yours look delightful. It’s great to continue family traditions.

  22. What a lovely recipe to have from your mother, even if the suet is no longer easy to use. These photos are gorgeous too, really really beautiful.

  23. I wish there were more caroling around these days. Seems like a forgotten tradition in these parts!

  24. I was at a party a few nights ago and mince pies came up. None of us knew how to make them and only a couple people had ever tried one, and that was many years ago, For some reason, they’ve fallen out of favor here. I don’t understand it, Charlie. Yours sound delicious and are filled with tasty fruits. And they’re topped with sugar! It’s a little late for me to make some this year but I’m pinning it for next. Thank!

  25. thanks for sharing a family recipe! they are adorable. i’d love to try them.

  26. This is so special, the memories and the recipe that is an original one. I think everyone here has used jars of mincemeat for years.. it’s so great to see this recipe with actual suet and the rest of the ingredients from scratch. I doubt I’d find suet here, either, but it might be worth asking around:D Merry Christmas!! xxx

  27. fabulous, i hope you and yours all have a magnificent day.. c

  28. Great mince pie recipe :-)
    I thought I was subscribed a while ago, but seem not to be. I couldn’t find a “Like” button either…
    Merry Christmas – I hope you have a good one :-)

  29. These look so good! It is almost exactly the same recipe as mine, I didn’t know anyone else used grated apple in the filling :) Lovely story as always :)

  30. They look wonderful Charlie! I have a small supply of suet from when I made the Queen’s Christmas pudding. I was able to order it from Victor Churchill :) Merry Christmas to you and your family!!

  31. Hi Charlie your Mum will be proud I am sure. Youa re probably at the beach now s have a lovely time ….see you in 2013

  32. These Mince Pies look fantastic and the presentatiopn is excelent too!

  33. They look so delicious: the real thing!

  34. This is such a perfect appetizer. Love that it’s pie, but savory so we can serve before the big meal. :)

  35. These are so cute and I bet taste even better :) A shame but my mum is super asian and never made any mince pies >_< nor had these traditions lol so now i'm trying to create my own but I didn't get around to making mince pies this year ~ maybe next year!

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