Saffron and Star Anise Mince Pies

December 11, 2011

Author Notes: Tiny eastern inspired mince pies made by a nostalgic Pakistani girl in London...the addition of pistachio, saffron, rose water and star anise takes me home yet keeping me firmly planted in cold and festive London-town!Sumayya Usmani

Serves: 18 little pies


Light and flakey butter pastry

  • 5 ounces cold unsalted butter cut into small pieces
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 tablespoons cold water

Eastern-style festive Mincemeat

  • 1/2 cup soft brown sugar
  • 2 cups dried apricot
  • 2 cups black currant
  • 1 cup chopped pistachios
  • 1 cup crystalised ginger
  • 2 cinnamon dusted dried cranberries
  • the juice and zest of one clementine
  • 1.5 tablespoons ground star anise, cinnamon and cloves - in equal quantities
  • 1 cup cherry brandy
  • 2 teaspoons saffron soaked in 1 tbsp hot water for 30 minutes
  • 3 drops almond extract
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 tablespoon rose water
In This Recipe


  1. Make the pastry first - in the food processor, blend the flour and butter until it resembles breadcrumbs then add the egg yolk and blend for a few seconds. Now add the water slowly allowing the dough to form a ball - you may need to add less or more water depending on how it looks. The end result should be a soft dough - not too wet and pliable. Take this out and knead it a bit and wrap in cellophane until ready to use.
  2. To make the mincemeat - Combine the dry fruits, pistachios and crystalised ginger in a bowl and add juices of lemon and clementine. Now heat the brown sugar and cherry brandy (save 2 tbsp for later). Once sugar is dissolved add the dry fruit mixture and cook until the liquid is all absorbed and the fruits are soft. At this time add the zests and take of the heat. Allow to cool and then add the almond extract, saffron with it's water, the remaining cherry brandy, rose water and honey. Allow to rest for about 30 minutes before making the pies.
  3. Heat the oven to 200 degrees C and roll the pastry as thin as possible, cut out circles the size (using a flutted cutter) to fit the shallow or deep mini pie pan and press down. Mark bottom with fork and then add much mincemeat as desired (be generous its Christmas!) Now cover the top using a shape cutter - with either a big cut out star (using the remainder pastry) or small stars and crescents as I have (keeping true to the Paki flag and the Pukka Paki logo!) and bake in the oven for about a maximum of 20 minutes - keep an eye on them they don't take long!
  4. Once done, cool on a wire rack and dust with icing sugar when ready to serve. Devour with a cup of mulled wine and breathing in this atmospheric aroma of a frankincense and myrrh candle (or the everlasting ever-seasonal Pomegranate Noir candle), your Xmas tree lights blinking in the background and Michael Buble's Christmas album playing...How more Christmasy can you get?

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