NZ Forest Native Birds


English Christmas Mince Pies

As I type this it is five days to Christmas, 2010, and I have just completed the making of my twelfth batch of mince pies—144 pies! I still had about half of the second batch of 2009’s mince and had to make two more lots and three lots of the pastry.


1 lb butter
8 oz sugar
1 egg

3 TB cold water
1 lb 8 oz flour
1 tsp baking powder

In a large bowl soften butter and cream with sugar. Add egg and beat again. Add water and beat in. Sift flour and baking powder and blend into the creamed mixture. (You can continue using your cake mixer for this.) Depending on the day and the size of the egg, more or less flour will be needed, but enough is added when the dough forms a smooth ball. Divide it into four. Weigh before wrapping and placing in the freezer. Each one should weigh 14 oz. If your scales read only in metric measurements, the metric equivalent for this is 397.32 gm. This is one good reason, IMHO anyway, why old recipes should never be turned into metric. They seldom turn out right. When wanted, thaw and knead smooth before rolling and cutting out with fluted cutters. Cook at about 200°C (or 20-25° lower if using a fan oven) for about 10 minutes if you want to reheat them later, or until they are well browned if you want to serve them straight away. Will make about 4 dozen good-sized lidded mince pies at Christmas. Be generous with the filling. You can pack it in quite firmly because the fruit mince recipe below is more than enough for 4 dozen pies.

2 oz walnuts
1 lb 8 oz currants
4 oz raisins
1 tsp each cinnamon, nutmeg and mixed spice, or to taste (in 2009 I used 2 tsp of each)
1 tsp salt
4 oz melted butter
1 cup grated apple, preferably cooking (1 large apple is usually enough)
6 oz dried apricots
2-3 oz crystallised peel
Half cup sugar
Half cup sherry (or brandy)
Juice and grated rind of 1 lemon

Put walnuts, apricots, raisins and peel through mincer, with half of the currants, using a coarse knife. (I use a food processor, but these weren’t around when this recipe was published. If you are using a food processor, it’s probably best to do the apricots on their own.) Add rest of ingredients and mix well. Leave the mixture in the bowl for several hours, stirring often, then pack in clean dry jars, cover and store in fridge.

Makes about 3.5 lb mincemeat. Feel free to juggle with the ingredients. If you don’t have enough of one ingredient it probably won’t matter. Also, there’s no way you can grate the rind of a lemon. If you don’t have a zest remover, use one of those vegetable peelers with a swinging blade to remove the rind. Use light pressure so that you don’t get any of the white pith. Chop the strips of rind as you would parsley. The original recipe didn’t include the rind of the lemon but I considered it stupid to waste such a good ingredient. The recipe also didn’t stipulate brown sugar, never mind a dark one, but I happened to have some in my pantry so this is what I used in 2009.

Here’s a photo of some of my 2009 pies after their first baking. I like to allow for a little more browning when they are reheated.

Laraine's mince pies

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