Mincemeat pies, or Christmas pies, are a traditional main course dish dating back to Tudor times. After the austere eating of Advent (with no meat), the Tudors reveled in feasting on Christmas day, and this included a lot of meat.
The Tudor pies were rectangular in shape, like a manger, and often had a pastry baby Jesus on the lid. They were made with 13 ingredients representing Jesus and his disciples. Ingredients included dried fruits like raisins prunes and figs, lamb or mutton (representing the shepherds) and spices like cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg (for the Wise Men).
By late Victorian England, mince pies ceased to contain meat and had all fruit fillings (with suet). This sweetmeat pie is one we eat today. When making the pie, it is good luck to stir in a clockwise direction. You should make a wish when eating the first pie of the season and never cut the pie with a knife. On Christmas Eve today, children in the UK often leave out mince pies with brandy or some similar drink for Father Christmas, and a carrot for the reindeer.
Here is an easy recipe for mince pies to enjoy:
Ready Rolled Short Crust Pastry Fruit Mince Meat in Jar (or if you can't get hold of it you can make your own) Pastry Cutters Shallow Muffin Tin Icing (powdered) sugar to dust
1. Cut the pastry into mini circles and place one in each section of the muffin tin.
2. Fill each circle with the mincemeat.
3. Put remaining pieces of crust on top for lids. Prick top crusts with a fork. (These lids do not have to entirely cover the mincemeat.)
4. Do not preheat over. Bake at 350 degrees for 18 minutes.
5. Dust with powdered sugar and enjoy!
Recipe credit: rainydaymum.co.uk
Instructions for making your own mincemeat:
· Black raisins 1/4 cup (40 gm)
· Golden raisins 1/4 cup (40 gm)
· Black currant 1/4 cup (40 gm)
· Cranberries 1/4 cup (40 gm)
· Apple 1 small
· Candied orange peel 1/4 cup (40 gm)
· Orange zest 1 tsp (optional)
· Orange marmalade 1 tbsp (optional)
· Orange/apple juice 1/2 cup (120 ml)
· Mixed spice powder 1 tsp
· Butter 1 tbsp
· Brown sugar 1 tbsp
· Measure the dry fruits and keep it ready. You can any fruits of your choice.
· Wash and chop an apple into small pieces.
· Make a spice mixture using cinnamon, cloves, ginger and nutmeg. Use only a small quantity of nutmeg, as it is quite overpowering.
· In a heavy saucepan, add the orange/apple juice and orange zest. I didn’t have fresh oranges and hence I used orange marmalade. Mix well.
· Now add all the dried fruits, brown sugar, butter and spice powder.
· Heat it on low flame and cook for 10-12 minutes or till the juice is almost absorbed by the dried fruits.
· Remove from flame and cool it.
· Store it in clean and sterilized glass jars inside the refrigerator.
· Use it to make cakes, cookies and pies.
· You can use any dried fruits like figs, plums/prunes etc.
· If possible, use homemade candied orange peel.
· If you do not want it very sweet, you can omit the sugar.
· The spice mix can be a combination of 1/2 tsp cinnamon powder, 1/4 tsp dry ginger powder, a pinch of nutmeg powder and a pinch of clove powder. Feel free to omit or add any spice. Or simply omit it if you don’t like it.
Recipe credit: culinarylabz.com
Photo source: historic-uk.com