For hundreds of years this delicious fruit pie has been a traditional staple of Christmas. Warm, spicy mincemeat and a crisp pastry crust complement each other, and also go perfectly with a spoonful or two of whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.
But that’s not always been the case.
The reason the filling is called “mince” is because in the Middle Ages mince pies were filled with a mixture of finely minced meat, suet (fat that surrounds the kidneys of sheep or cattle), chopped up fruit, spices and a preserving liquid. Mincemeat originally came about as a good way of preserving meat, without salting, curing, smoking or drying it.
In Tudor times mince pies were made from 13 ingredients to represent Jesus and his 12 apostles – mutton was also added to represent the shepherds.
The recipe began to change during Victorian times to something a little sweeter and reduced in size from the large oblong shape once observed to smaller round pie shape and the meat was ditched.
Christmas mince pies – milk, wheat, gluten and nut free. Egg free option if required
Fruit mince filling
- 100g raisins
- 100g currants
- 100g sultanas
- 50g dried apricots, minced
- 50g soft prunes, minced
- 30g glace cherries, minced
- 5ml ground ginger
- 5ml ground nutmeg
- 2ml ground cloves
- 4 apples, cored and diced
- Zest of 1 lemon
- 1 cup fruit juice (orange or apple juice)
- 1/2 cup brandy or whisky
- 200g gluten-free strong bread flour blend
- 100g ounces buckwheat flour
- Pinch salt
- 150g vegetable shortening
- ½ cup water
1 egg, lightly beaten (optional; omit for egg free)
- In a large bowl, stir together the raisins, currants, sultanas, apricots, prunes, cherries, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves. Stir in the apples and lemon zest. Add the fruit juice and brandy or whisky and mix well.
- Cover the fruit mixture and let it sit for 24 to 48 hours.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the flours and salt. Add the shortening whisk until uniform crumbs form. Add the water and stir until it comes together into soft dough.
- Roll the dough out and cut it into rounds to fit your mince pie tins. Fill with the fruit mixture and top each with a second pastry circle as a lid, or top with strips of dough.
- Paint with beaten egg (if using).
- Bake for 25 to 30 minutes at 180º
- Remove from the tins when still warm, sprinkle with a light dusting of sugar and let cool completely on a rack.
- Makes 24 mince pies.