The spicy aroma of a batch of golden mince pies fresh from the oven is a sure sign that festivities are imminent. Whether preparing a traditional delight for Thanksgiving or Christmas Day – or something special to enjoy between the two – try our delicious homemade variation of the seasonal pastry this year. Our trusty recipe for Christmas mince pies comes exclusively from The Duke of Richmond Hotel’s kitchen, and guarantees a crowd-pleasing batch for novices and seasoned bakers alike.
(makes 16 pies)• 2 cups flour
• 120g butter, cut into cubes
• 2 tblsp sugar
• Pinch of salt
• Juice of 1 orange (1/3 cup) and grated zest (1 tblsp)
• 1 jar of fruit mincemeat (454g)
• Icing sugar for dusting
1. In a bowl, sift the flour and salt together.
2. Add the butter and rub into the flour until it looks like breadcrumbs.
3. Add the sugar, orange juice and grated zest and mix together until the dough
binds together. Knead the dough into a ball and cover with a clingfilm wrap.
4. Place the dough in the fridge for 30 minutes.
5. When you’re ready to roll the dough, set the oven to 180°C and spray a muffin tin with a non-stick cooking oil. For optimum results, the muffin/cupcake tin should be shallow. A deeper tin will not work as well.
6. Roll out the dough to about 2mm in thickness and, with a round cookie cutter, cut out the bases from the dough and place them in the tin, gently pressing them down.
7. Place a tablespoon of fruit mince in each casing.
8. Now cut out the tops of the mince pies using the same cookie cutter – the dough can be a little thinner for this. Place on top of the fillings.
9. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until the pastry has browned nicely.
10. Leave to cool in the muffin tin before removing.
11. Dust with icing sugar and serve.
A short history of Christmas mince pies
Returning from their escapades in the Holy Land in the 11th and 12th centuries, European crusaders brought back a taste for Middle Eastern cuisine. Sweet and savoury pastries, along with exotic spices such as cinnamon and cloves, were among the delicious new imports. A mix of dried fruits, distilled spirits and spices became a popular means of preserving mutton, beef and veal, and the mincemeat used in the pastries contained shredded meat and animal fat or suet.
The Tudors were particularly famous for creating large and elaborately decorated mince pies – Henry VIII was an early pioneer of the sweet meaty treat. The trend eventually found its way from illustrious royal banquets to the centrepiece of Christmas dining tables across the land. While no longer the main dish, it remains a lasting festive favourite, and it wouldn’t be Christmas without a mince pie left out for Santa.
Recreate The Duke of Richmond Hotel’s delectably rich Christmas mince pies at home.
Image credits: lead image © iStock/john Shepherd. Dough for mince pieces © iStock/lenakorzh. Mince pies before baking © iStock/Lizzie_Lamont. Mince pie © iStock/john Shepherd.