It’s that time of year when the supermarket shelves are heaving with all sorts of indulgent seasonal treats, and an enduring favourite is the humble (but increasingly prolific!) mince pie. To many, their spicy, sweet taste is the taste of the festive season and something to be enjoyed for the twelve days of Christmas and beyond…
With the aim of pinpointing the best of the supermarket mince-pies out there, we held a blind taste test involving 35 hardy souls, willing to savour and score the 19 different mince pies on offer. To make things a little more interesting, we also added a homemade mince pie into the mix, to see how it fared – would the participants be able to tell that it’s homemade? Would people rate it positively when in the presence of the best the supermarkets can produce?
Well, against all odds, ‘SteveFromOurOffice’s homemade pies, actually triumphed! People could spot that it was homemade, but they also liked it, and when the scores were collated, it just pipped the next best supermarket pie. To read the complete results of our taste test click here. This result seems to be a triumph of freshness and homemade care and attention, allied with an excellent recipe…
Try Steve’s (Delia-inspired!) recipe for yourself:
- 1lb (450g) Bramley apples, cored and chopped small (no need to peel them)
- 8oz (225g) shredded suet
- 12oz (350g) raisins
- 8oz (225g) sultanas
- 8oz (225g) currants
- 8oz (225g) whole mixed candied peel, finely chopped
- 12oz (350g) soft dark brown sugar
- Grated zest and juice2 oranges
- Grated zest and juice 2 lemons
- 2oz (50g) whole almonds, cut into slivers
- 4 level teaspoons mixed ground spice
- ½ level teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ¼ level teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- 100g chopped glace cherries
- 3 tablespoons cherry liqueur
- 3 tablespoons amaretto
- Shortcrust pastry – you can use ready-roll or make your own
- 2 tangerines or clementines (peeled)
- Combine all the ingredients (apart from the alcohol, clementines/tangerines and pastry) in a large mixing bowl, stir them together and mix thoroughly
- Cover the bowl with a clean cloth, leave the mixture in a cool place overnight (or 12 hours), so the flavours can combine
- Pre-heat the oven to 225 ̊F/110 ̊ C /Gas Mark 6
- Loosely cover the bowl with foil and put in the oven for 3 hours, before taking out. It will look like it is swimming in fat, fear not, this is how it should look.
- Stir it now and then as it cools, the fat will coagulate and bind the other ingredients.
- When it is completely cold, stir well again adding the amaretto and cherry liqueur. You will have too much mincemeat for your 12 mince pies so store the rest in sterilised jars covered with wax seals if you won't be using it in the following few days. This way the mincemeat will last for a long time in a cool, dark cupboard.
- Note – You can make it vegetarian by changing it to vegetarian suet, you can make half if you only need a smaller quantity, you will have some left over if making 12 mince pies.
- Roll out the shortcrust pastry or use ready rolled.
- Use a round cutter to cut out 12 rounds and place them in a greased muffin tin.
- Put a tablespoon of mincemeat filling in each and place a thin slice of tangerine on top.
- Cook at 200 ˚C/ 400 ˚F/ Gas Mark 6 for 25-30 minutes until they are browned.
- Allow to cool, dust with icing sugar to serve.
- Enjoy, and if you do make it, we’d love to see photos of you in action, or see the finished results. Get in touch and tell us if they were a winner for you, and any top-tips that you have for festive cooking.
- The mincemeat recipe is based on Delia's at: http://www.deliaonline.com/recipes/main-ingredient/mincemeat/home-made-christmas-mincemeat.html
- if not using shop bought, here's a tried and tested shortcrust pastry recipe: http://www.bbc.co.uk/food/recipes/shortcrustpastry_1278