I think the thing that makes bought mince pies such a letdown and homemade ones so good, is that the bought ones are far too sweet. The pastry needs to be a contrast to the intensely sweet filling. I make a rich short crust that is meltingly tender and not sweet. It makes around 14 regular size mince pies with stars on top, or more if you do some as minis. FYI I always make double batches, but we are very greedy.
Short pastry requires cold butter, cold water and a cold rest in the fridge. Handling or kneading the pastry will make it greasy and tough, so be gentle and you’ll have ”melt in the mouth” short pastry for your mince pies.
For the pastry
1 heaped cup of plain flour
Pinch of salt
100g butter, cold
1 dessert spoon sugar – or if you are too lazy to measure like me use a small handful
1 egg yolk
Splash of cold water – just enough to bring the mixture together
For the filling
¾ tub of fruit mince if using store bought or approx I big cup full of home made.
Icing sugar to dust
Put flour, salt and butter into food processor and pulse until fine crumbs form or rub butter into flour with your fingertips.
Add sugar, egg yolk, and water and pulse or mix with the blade of a knife until just combined. If the pastry is over worked it will be tough, if it is too dry add a dash more water.
Wrap the pastry in baking paper and rest it in the fridge for 1/2 an hour before rolling out.
Pre heat the oven to 190°C.
Roll the pastry out on a floured bench and use a cutter or glass to cut pastry discs to fit your pans. Grease the pans then line with the pastry discs. Spoon a teaspoon of fruit mince mixture into each one – don’t overfill or they’ll bubble over and stick to the pans. Top with a star or other pastry shape.
Bake for around 15 minutes until pale golden. Remove from pans while still warm and place on a rack to cool. Store in an airtight container and serve warm or cold. Dust with icing sugar before serving.
Cooks’ tip: for a less intense fruit mince filling you can mix it with some stewed apple or for mince pie haters make them jam tarts topped with a star instead.