Felicity Cloake's mince pie masterclass: an easy step-by-step recipe | Felicity Cloake’s masterclass (2024)

When people claim they don’t like mince pies, I feel compelled to assure them it’s just the commercial version they object to – if they tried homemade ones, with their crumbly, buttery pastry and fruit-packed filling, they’d agree I was right. Admittedly, this cooksplaining doesn’t always go down terribly well, especially after a couple of festive sherries, but the pies themselves usually do.

Prep 15 min
Cook 20 min
Makes 20

50g each sultanas, raisins, currants, mixed peel
50g each dried figs and glacé cherries
, chopped
25g each almonds and pecans, chopped
1 piece stem ginger, finely chopped, plus 1 tbsp of its syrup
200g muscovado sugar
½ tsp mixed spice
3 tbsp whisky
(see step 4)
Zest of 1 lemon or 1 small orange
1 small unpeeled cooking apple
, grated
2 tbsp suet
(vegetable, if need be) or cold butter

For the pastry
340g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
1 pinch fine salt
225g cold butter, plus extra for greasing
85g ground almonds (see step 6)
100g golden caster sugar
2 egg yolks
1 tsp orange blossom water (optional)
Beaten egg or milk, to glaze
Icing sugar, to dust

1 Mix and match the filling

Felicity Cloake's mince pie masterclass: an easy step-by-step recipe | Felicity Cloake’s masterclass (1)

The best thing about homemade mince pies is that you can customise the mincemeat to suit your own tastes – if you don’t care for vine fruits, say, replace those in my ingredients list with chopped dried apricots, dates, cranberries, etc; the same goes for the figs, ginger and nuts. The whisky can be replaced by fruit juice or tea, though it won’t keep as well if you go down the booze-free route.

2 Clean some jars, if making ahead

Felicity Cloake's mince pie masterclass: an easy step-by-step recipe | Felicity Cloake’s masterclass (2)

You can make the mincemeat well in advance, so long as you sterilise the jars properly (if you’re using it immediately, skip this step). Either wash the jars and lids in hot, soapy water, or run them through a hot dishwasher cycle, then dry them in a low oven (about 120C (100C fan)/250F/gas ¼) for 20 minutes, until dry, and fill them straight from the oven.

3 Start on the filling

Roughly chop any of the fruit that needs it into raisin-sized pieces. Lightly toast the nuts, if using, in a dry pan until fragrant, then roughly chop them, too. Put both into a large bowl with the ginger, sugar, spice, whisky (brandy, golden or dark rum, amaretto or sloe gin will also work), zest, grated apple and suet, or grate in the butter, if using.

4 Adjust to taste

Add a little more spice, if you think it needs it, or indeed booze. If you haven’t used the ginger, add a dash more booze, to make up for the loss of the syrup. Decant into the sterilised jars if you’re not planning on using the filling immediately.

5 Start on the pastry

Felicity Cloake's mince pie masterclass: an easy step-by-step recipe | Felicity Cloake’s masterclass (3)

Sift the flour into a bowl with a good pinch of fine salt. If you’d prefer to keep it nut-free, swap the ground almonds for the same amount of extra flour. Grate in the cold butter, then rub this into the flour with your fingertips until the mixture looks like damp sand.

6 Finish the pastry

Felicity Cloake's mince pie masterclass: an easy step-by-step recipe | Felicity Cloake’s masterclass (4)

Stir in the ground almonds (or extra flour) and sugar. Whisk the egg yolks with the orange blossom water, if using, and a tablespoon and a half of ice-cold water (two, if you’re not using the orange blossom water) – add just enough to bring the mix together into a firm, but not wet dough. Shape into a ball by hand, wrap well, and chill for half an hour.

7 Line the tins, then fill

Felicity Cloake's mince pie masterclass: an easy step-by-step recipe | Felicity Cloake’s masterclass (5)

Heat the oven to 200C (180C fan)/390F/gas 5. Grease two tartlet tins of whatever size you prefer with butter, and roll out half the pastry on a lightly floured surface until about 3mm thick. Cut out bases a little larger than the tin holes and use to line them, then fill each about three-quarters full with the mincemeat.

8 Pop on the lids

Felicity Cloake's mince pie masterclass: an easy step-by-step recipe | Felicity Cloake’s masterclass (6)

Roll out the other half of the pastry and cut out into rounds the same size as the tin holes. Alternatively, cut out stars or hearts, or top the pies with nuts (whole pecans and flaked almonds are nice) or even marzipan shapes, if you prefer less pastry-heavy pies.

9 Bake, cool … and eat

If using a pastry top, dampen the edge of the lids with a little water or milk, and press down lightly on the pies to seal. Brush the tops with milk or beaten egg, and prick with a fork. Bake for about 20 minutes, until golden, then cool on a rack and dust with icing sugar before serving.

Felicity Cloake's mince pie masterclass: an easy step-by-step recipe | Felicity Cloake’s masterclass (2024)
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