My British mother isn't a baker. It's not her thing. It isn't really mine either. It requires precision and patience and we lack both. So we only bake when it's really necessary and, come the holidays, mince pies are necessary. First, they're delicious (especially when served with cream). Second, the recipe is flexible. When I called my mother to confirm the pastry recipe, she said she doesn't use a recipe, she just uses "some flour, half as much butter and sugar, an egg, salt, and vanilla." So, I wouldn't stress over the exact amounts for anything in this recipe. Traditionally, mince pies have beef suet in them but our family recipe is vegetarian. —Fancy and Casual
For the Mincemeat
cooking apples (or sour apples like Granny Smith)
lemon (zest and juice)
orange (zest and juice)
brandy (or rum)
For the Pie Crust
all purpose flour (plus extra for rolling)
Peel, core and finely chop the apples. Place sugar and cider in a large saucepan and heat until the sugar is dissolved. Add all the mincemeat ingredients, except the brandy, to the saucepan. Bring to the boil, stirring constantly. Simmer for 30 – 40 mins until the apples are soft. Leave to cool. Stir in brandy or rum and taste. If it tastes bitter, add more sugar. If it needs more brandy, add more brandy.
While the mincemeat is cooking, prepare the crust. Add flour, sugar, egg, butter, salt, and vanilla extract to the bowl of a food processor. With the plastic blade, pulse and then blend until mixture forms a ball. Remove from food processor, wrap in plastic wrap, and chill dough in the fridge for 30 minutes.
Once chilled, liberally flour your kitchen surface and rolling pin (it's a sticky dough). Roll out dough until thin, but not falling apart (about 1/8 inch). Using big and small circle cookie cutters, cut out equal numbers of big and small dough circles. If you want to get fancy, you can use a small star cookie cutter instead of a small circle.
Grease a muffin tray and place the big circles in the muffin holders. The dough should go up around the edges to form a cup shape. Fill the cups with about a tablespoon of mincemeat, then cover with a smaller circle (or star) of dough. Lightly glaze the tops with milk.
Bake at 350 degrees for 15 - 20 minutes or until top is golden brown. Remove from oven and let mince pies cool. Once cooled, sprinkle with confectionary sugar.
Leftover mincemeat can be spooned into clean, hot jars and covered with wax circles and Ball Jar lids.