Real mincemeat mince pies

'Shred' or mince pies originally contained real meat, a tradition dating back to Tudor times. They were the first meat meal on Christmas morning after the vigil of Christmas Eve. This pastry is a 1950s recipe by Lady Brunner from Greys Court, Oxfordshire, and the filling is a meat-based mincemeat from Elizabeth Browne's 1699 recipe book at Townend, Cumbria.

Cakes and bakes
Real mincemeat mince pies at Townend
  • Preparation time 1 hour (prep. time)
  • Cooking time 20 minutes  (cooking time)
  • Serves 24 mince pies

Ingredients

For the pastry:

  • 275g plain flour
  • 25g ground almonds
  • 175g unsalted butter
  • 1/2 lemon zest only
  • 75g caster sugar
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 3 tbsp whole milk

For the mincemeat:

  • 115g suet
  • 85g grated apple
  • 115g currants
  • 1 stoned chopped date
  • 1 tbsp sweet sherry
  • 1 tbsp rosewater
  • 55g candied lemon peel
  • 25g soft brown sugar
  • 115g lean roast beef (cooked)
  • 1 tsp powdered mace

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 200C/190C fan/gas mark 6.
  2. Sift flour into a bowl and add almonds.
  3. Cut butter into small pieces and rub into the flour. Add sugar and lemon zest.
  4. Mix in the egg yolk and milk and gently squeeze together to make dough. Wrap in cling film and chill for 30 minutes.
  5. While the dough is chilling, finely mince all filling ingredients in a processor.
  6. Lightly grease two, 12-piece mince-pie baking pans. Roll out the dough on a floured surface and with a 6cm cutter stamp out circles and line tin with the rounds of pastry.
  7. Carefully wet the edges of each with water before placing one heaped teaspoon of mincemeat in each. Do not overfill. Cover with another round of pastry and seal. Make two slits in the top of each pie.
  8. Bake for 15–20 minutes, then cool on a rack and dust with icing sugar.

This recipe was first published in the National Trust Magazine Autumn 2017 edition.

Mince pies on a plate

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