Christmas just wouldn't be Christmas without mince pies! Mince pies have been eaten as part of a traditional British Christmas since as long ago as the 16th century. Then they were made of meat but are now made with sweet mincemeat; a mixture of dried fruits, sugar, spices and brandy.
1 lb (400g) plain flour
7 oz (175g) butter
3 oz (75g) vegetable fat
Grated zest of 1 large orange
1-2 tbsp chilled orange juice
8 tbsp brandy
1 lb 10 oz (750g) mincemeat
a little milk
1. Sift the flour and rub in the butter and vegetable fat until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Stir in the zest and bind with the juice. If using a food processor, go gently as it is easy to over-process this pastry. Leave to chill in the fridge for 30 minutes - the mixture is very rich and best handled as little as possible.
2. Roll the pastry out thinly and cut out 48 lids first. (If you prefer to make tarts, cut out holly-leaf shapes, as shown in the picture.) Then re-roll to cut out 48 bases. Grease the muffin tins lightly and line with the bases.
3. Stir the brandy into the mincemeat and add just enough to fill each pie before topping with a lid, using a little milk to stick it on securely. Brush the tops with milk and make a small slit in each pie if using a full lid. Bake for 8 -12 minutes on the floor of the roasting oven until golden. If using a conventional cooker, bake at 200C/ 400F/Gas Mark 6 for 12-15 minutes.