When it comes to mince pies, I have very strict rules. They have to be rustic, deep filled, have very short, savoury pastry and be sprinkled with icing sugar. Crucially, they must also be filled with shop bought mincemeat. There's just something nostalgic about it. My current favourite is 'Morrisons Best Gin and Brandy Mincemeat.' I make at least 24. If I can resist eating the lot then I freeze half for the bit between Christmas and New Year when eating mincemeat for breakfast seems entirely virtuous after a couple of days on non stop chocolate and booze.
1 jar shop-bought mincemeat
700g plain flour
150g lard (Trex is fine and easier to find in supermarkets)
150g Stork or softened, unsalted butter
A little water
A little milk for brushing
Some icing sugar for dusting
Mixer or mixing bowl and spoon
3 strips of greaseproof paper or 1 sheet and a silicone mat
x2 12 hole, non stick muffin tins (or one if you're halving the recipe)
9cm circular / scone cutter
Christmas themed cutter (optional)
Pre-heat your oven to 200 and prepare your muffin tins by cutting strips of greaseproof that you lay across each hole of the muffin tin. This will stick out either side of your mince pies, making them dead easy to lift from the pan when baked.
Rub together the flour and fats with your fingers until clumpy and resembling breadcrumbs.
Add a tiny amount of water and start to squish the mixture to form a ball of dough. Add as much water as needed until you have a smooth (but NOT sticky) ball of dough that can be rolled out. One of the best ways to make sure you don't over-do it is to wet your hands rather than add spoonfuls of liquid to the dough. That way you can feel when enough it enough.
Split the dough into four pieces. It will make it much easier to roll in smaller chunks. Roll pastry as thinly as you can. Cut circles and lay them into the holes of muffin tins. Push them gently into the hole to make a little cup. Fill each one with a heaped teaspoon of mincemeat.
Repeat the above to make lids / tops by cutting out more circles or Christmas shapes. If you make round lids, seal them down by using your fingertip to rub a little milk around the edge of the base. When the lid is on, poke a little hole in the top for steam to escape. If you're using a shape that doesn't cover the hole pie then simply lay it on top of the mincemeat.
Brush the tops of the pies with a little milk using a clean or culinary paintbrush. Bake for 25 minutes. Allow the tins to cool just enough to handle without hurting yourself and then pull the pies out by their little greaseproof tails and enjoy.