Making your own pies this year? Here’s how to get the perfect result
If you’re among the diehard Christmas-foodies who love a homemade mince pie, you’ll already have an opinion on lattice-topped over enclosed; puff over shortcrust; warm over cold; cream over brandy sauce and so on… Whatever your preference, there are some tricks to ensure you get a perfect result.
Mincemeat: homemade or shop-bought?
Some people swear by homemade mincemeat – and there are lots of different recipes, including those which are suitable for vegetarians and those which include suet, a meat-based fat.
Making mincemeat ahead of time gives it an opportunity to mature and for the flavour to deepen. It can be made up to six months in advance if stored in jars in a cool, dark place. Don’t worry if you’re making it last-minute, though – it’s perfectly enjoyable straightaway.
There are also some excellent ready-made products, including Sainsbury’s Taste the Difference Mincemeat. Mincemeat can be used for more than pies, too – check out the Mince pie cheesecake recipe for an alternative to Christmas pudding!
Which alcohol to add to homemade mincemeat?
Brandy, rum, whisky, Cointreau, sloe gin, port – all the seasonal liqueurs complement dried fruits, so go with whichever you prefer.
Bear in mind what you’ll be serving the mince pies with, if anything. Rum sauce or brandy butter might not be a great match for sloe gin, for example. If you’re serving cream or custard, it won’t matter.
If you’re making your own mincemeat and using a recipe that requires the fruit to be cooked, add the alcohol afterwards.
As for the pastry…
Not everyone wants to go to the bother of making pastry from scratch but if you do, you might want to choose a sweet pastry recipe. Good news, though: it’s perfectly acceptable to use shop-bought pastry, even the foodiest of foodies accept that the results are just as good and it saves a lot of time.
Try Sainsbury’s Dessert Shortcrust Pastry Mix. For a super-quick result, there’s also Sainsbury’s Ready Rolled Shortcrust, Ready Rolled Puff or, for a healthier version, there's Ready Rolled Filo Pastry, too. Filo pastry needs a bit more effort because it comes in multiple layers, but it provides a lovely, crisp contrast to the luscious filling and can be made into money-bags for bite-size pies (perfect for drinks parties!).
For something a little different
Try a stylish-looking open tart with a lattice pastry top by criss-crossing strips of pastry across before baking.
Or try one of these tasty recipes:
A tip to prettify
Dust mince pies once cooled with icing sugar for a pretty finish. For an extra Christmassy touch, cut out a star or heart from a piece of cardboard and use as a template for your icing sugar dusting.