Why making fruit mince pies will be the death of you – part 2 (the pastry)

One perfect fruit mince pie

I must write this quickly, before the endorphins from the sugar kick in and I forget how hard the past seven hours were.

You see, someone needs to tell the truth. Someone needs to stop fooling people about recipes and ‘whipping up’ something simple and start talking real talk.

So here it is.

Making fruit mince pies from scratch is *probably* not worth the effort.

There. I said it.

And I can say it because between me and a friend today we made over 40 fruit mince pies.

The problem is, a little like child birth, once it’s over, the mess is cleaned up and all you have left is this little parcel of joy, you forget all the pain. So for once I am blogging in real time, while the memory is still fresh, so you will know what really happens.

For those of you who read part 1 (the fruit mince) you’ll know my friend Tenille and I are scientifically trying to work out the best ever fruit mince pie recipe. Here are the two fruit mince recipes we have tried.

Fruit mince

Here we are, earlier in the day (that’s Tenille on the right with the rolling pin, saying to put the camera down).

Tenille and me earlier today
And after making pastry, rolling pastry, breaking pastry, having fruit mince pies stick to trays, getting fruit mince in our hair, spilling flour on the floor, having the pastry fall apart and then doing that again, and again, and again, this if us later in the day:

Aimee and Tenille looking tired
In all fairness, fruit mince pies weren’t our only debacles today.

It did NOT help when my boyfriend came home half way through the day all banged up after falling off his bike. He’d had to crash his bike to avoid hitting a pram (a stroller/pusher depending where you hale from) – that a woman pushed out on to the road from between two parked cars without looking to see if anything was on the road.

Note to pram woman: prams are NOT walking canes you use to test if something is in front of you. (I’m sure people will love me for the below pic.)

No prams

However, it DID help hugely when Tenille’s boyfriend, who also happens to be my brother, bought burgers over at lunch time. (Sometimes when I eat burgers I turn into a Japanese cartoon character. It’s a condition, I’m looking into it).

Eating burge

We also researched and tried two different pastry recipes. Mine used custard powder and had port added to it. Tenille’s was more of a typical shortbread pastry.

And then we rolled our pastry between baking paper.

Roll pastry between two sheets

We used wine glasses, mugs and cookie cutters to get all our shapes right.

Then we put them in a variety of tins.

Put pastry in tins

As we are trying two types of pastries with two different types of mince, we have a key, to sort out different toppings from different filling. Our taste testers used this key to give us feedback.

Star tops: Aimee’s filling, Aimee’s pastry – cooked in small, round fruit mince pie tins.
Bell tops: Tenille’s filling, Tenille’s pastry – cooked in non stick muffin tins.
Circle tops: Tenille’s filling, Aimee’s pastry – cooked in small, round fruit mince pie tins.
Christmas tree tops: Aimee’s filling, Tenille’s pastry – cooked in flexible muffin tin.

Fruit mince pies

The results? Here’s what we learnt:

  1. From what I’ve heard from our taste testers Tenille’s mince with my pastry (round top) is the winner.
  2. Making fruit mince pies takes a very long time.
  3. Dusting with icing sugar hides a multitude of sins.
  4. The reason we think Tenille’s fruit mince is better is I did not add almonds and candied fruit peel to mine. I thought they would be strange. But turns out the tartness they add is completely necessary.
  5. My pastry, with the custard powder and port, was creamier, but slightly harder to work with.
  6. (From Tenille) Do not transport fruit mince pies home on a bike. Enough said.
  7. The smaller the fruit mince pie the better, the larger ones lacked structural integrity.
  8. Do no use a non-stick muffin tin, it is very, very hard to get them out. Typical round, shallow fruit mince pie tins are best, or the flexible muffin tins.

Use these types of tins!

When all is said is done, the fact we have over 40 fruit mince pies now cooling on my kitchen bench is very cool.

One perfect fruit mince

Right. I’m ordering take-in and watching some TV.

Aimee’s pastry recipe
1/3 cup self-raising flour
1 1/3 cups plain flour
¼ cup cornflour
¼ cup custard powder
½ cup icing sugar
125g butter, cold and diced
1 egg yolk
1 tablespoon sherry/port/Grand Marnier and maybe a dash more

Method

  1. Chop up softened butter and place in bowl. Add all flours and sugar and combine with your hands.
  2. Mix yolk and sherry/port/Grand Marnier in a cup. Add to bowl and need with hands until all combined.
  3. Transfer mixture to bench top, form a disk, wrap in cling wrap and refrigerate until required (at least 45 minutes).

Tenille’s pastry recipe
185 grams butter
½ cup caster sugar
2 eggs
3 cups plain flour
1/3 cup rice flour
½ teaspoon baking powder

Method

  1. Cream butter and sugar, add eggs one at a time, beating well after each edition.
  2. Sift flour, rice flour and baking powder, work well into creamed mixture. Knead lightly until smooth.
  3. Transfer mixture to bench top, form a disk, wrap in cling wrap and refrigerate until required (at least 45 minutes).

Making the pies

  1. Pre-heat oven to 180C and lightly grease mini muffin or shallow pie mould.
  2. Remove pastry dough from fridge and divide into two. In between two sheets of baking paper roll pastry out until about 3-5mm thick. Using a round cutter cut bases out for pies. You will need to test which size you will be using – I always use one just a bit bigger than the top measurements of your mould.
  3. Place pastry round in mound and press down. Top with fruit mince and another round of pastry or a star of pastry. Dust with caster sugar if desired.
  4. Bake for 10 minutes for smaller pies, 15 minutes for larger pies.
  5. Cool in trays, remove very, very carefully and dust with icing sugar if desired.

Healthy: Oh go away. I’m not working it out for four different kinds of pies. Let’s just say about 200 a pie.

Gluten free: No, sorry.

Storage: Pies can be kept for up to two weeks if stored in an airtight container.

36 Comments on Why making fruit mince pies will be the death of you – part 2 (the pastry)

  1. Just A Smidgen
    19 December 2011 at 12:29 am (3 years ago)

    Love it! I couldn’t stop grinning all the way through, this made my day and I’m so glad it was the first blog I read! Hilarious, I love the photo of you two “after” baking all day!!

    Reply
    • Aimee@clevermuffin
      19 December 2011 at 7:37 am (3 years ago)

      Thanks Barbara, glad I could give you a chuckle :)

      Reply
  2. ceciliag
    19 December 2011 at 1:57 am (3 years ago)

    Fantastic, and thank you for the results and I am a mother of five and have also noticed how mental mothers push their strollers with a BABY INSIDE out into the street, then peer around before they themselves enter said traffic. Your poor boyfriend. Tell him next time a mother tests the safety of the road by pushing her baby out first -he has my permission to crash into the MOTHER! c

    Reply
    • Aimee@clevermuffin
      19 December 2011 at 7:29 am (3 years ago)

      Thanks Celi! Pete, the boyfriend, got a good belly laugh when I told him that you’d given him permission to hit the mother next time!

      Reply
  3. Geni - Sweet and Crumby
    19 December 2011 at 3:50 am (3 years ago)

    You are HILARIOUS! Thanks for “real time” blogging I knew you were a real girl, real baker with real baking war wounds. I just knew it! Aimee, I ALWAYS LOVE READING your posts. Always. I have never had a fruit mince pie but these look so, very amazingly yummy. I will try to take your bits of advice to heart. This truly looks like a “labor” of love but at least you had your friend by your side to get through it with. Hope the BF is feeling better. Stupid pram-pushin’, simple minded mom. Why on earth would your baby be your “cushion” between you and the street?!

    Reply
    • Aimee@clevermuffin
      19 December 2011 at 7:32 am (3 years ago)

      Thanks Geni, I think you and I may just share a rather similar sense of humor :) And yes, a ‘labor’ of love sums it up quick nicely I think. As for the pram woman… don’t get me started…

      Reply
    • Aimee@clevermuffin
      19 December 2011 at 7:33 am (3 years ago)

      Not quite the ‘here’s one I prepared earlier’ before and after photos… but before and after cookies none the less.

      Reply
  4. patty
    19 December 2011 at 6:23 am (3 years ago)

    I am so impressed with both of your efforts! And I know the feeling oh so well expressed in the black and white photo but also the high felt from seeing photos of cooling fruit mince pies! It’s a good thing the body does not remember pain hence another season to look forward to making more pies;-)
    They are sooooo cute, after all!

    Reply
    • Aimee@clevermuffin
      19 December 2011 at 7:36 am (3 years ago)

      yea… we’ll see. Maybe someone should remind me to read my own post before I attempt them next year!

      Reply
  5. Sawsan@ Chef in disguise
    19 December 2011 at 6:30 am (3 years ago)

    Thank you for doing all the research.. it is wonderful that you have a friend who shared your baking adventures
    Your post reminded me of what I go through when I make my kids birthday cakes..through out the process I tell my self..I am mad for doing this..I will never do it again..but when the next birthday comes around I can’t resist the temptation

    Reply
  6. Courtney
    19 December 2011 at 9:56 am (3 years ago)

    I love honest bloggers! (and I especially love the picture of you and your friend later in the day. Hilarious. (And I hope your poor BF is okay.) I will definitely probably not be making these – though they do look pretty good. :)

    Reply
  7. Kristy
    19 December 2011 at 4:05 pm (3 years ago)

    This post cracked me up Aimee! I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE the black and white photo. That is just beyond awesome! And the pram lady…I never understood why anyone would blindly push a stroller/pram out into a street first – that’s just nuts. I’m glad your boyfriend is ok. And your pies look fantastic! What a fun adventure. :)

    Reply
  8. Kay aka Babygirl
    19 December 2011 at 4:50 pm (3 years ago)

    This post is hilarious, inventive, and informative all at the same time. I never knew making fruit mince pies was such a hassle. Maybe that’s why I never wanted to make them lol. But you did such a wonderful job.

    Reply
  9. Caroline
    20 December 2011 at 6:28 am (3 years ago)

    You’re too funny…I’m dying over that second photo of you and Tenille. Your faces are priceless. Hey, aside from the tedious process, the pies turned out adorable and it looks like they were well worth the effort and time! And how could burgers not put you in a better mood? Can’t ever go wrong haha.

    Reply
  10. frugalfeeding
    20 December 2011 at 6:36 am (3 years ago)

    ’tis good to see the result of your mincemeat – you shall be seeing mine very soon too :D. Awesome stuff, Clever.

    Reply
    • Aimee@clevermuffin
      20 December 2011 at 9:01 am (3 years ago)

      Oh, I’m excited! Will you post them before xmas?

      Reply
  11. Mary
    20 December 2011 at 10:34 am (3 years ago)

    Oh, good heavens, what a mess! Dumb idiot mom using the pram instead of her eyes. Wow. You have also convinced me NEVER to make mince pies. ;P I will swear it now. They are truly cute, but SEVEN hours? Oh man. I love blogging in real time. Otherwise, it all looks and tastes so lovely in hindsight! ha ha ha

    Enjoy those pies and definitely enjoy a break from the kitchen for at least a day or two. You totally made me grin!

    Reply
  12. The Hook
    20 December 2011 at 12:23 pm (3 years ago)

    These look awesome!

    Reply
  13. Jereme's Kitchen
    20 December 2011 at 2:22 pm (3 years ago)

    you convinced me — i will not be making any fruit mince pies!

    Reply
  14. sportsglutton
    20 December 2011 at 2:25 pm (3 years ago)

    I can’t speak to the comparison to child birth, but I believe these to be worth the pain. ;-). they sound great!

    Reply
  15. clumsylawyer
    20 December 2011 at 7:26 pm (3 years ago)

    I love home-made mice pies! Can’t stand the shop-bought ones – they’re somehow pappy, I find. There are only two of us, so it’s a waste to make hundreds at once, so I took some inspiration from my mummy this year – made up an enormous batch of shortcrust pastry (mine was 1 lb plain flour, 4 oz unsalted butter, 4 oz rendered animal fat – lard works fine), rolled and cut it all out as usual, made up a dozen mince pies to eat immediately and placed the other shapes between sheets of greaseproof, frozen flat in the ice drawer. That way, next time I wanted some fresh, I just removed the pastry a little beforehand, filled with mincemeat and baked – no mess, no fuss! Granted, it took longer the first time, but I was already committed to a day of baking by that point. Oh, and my tip for speeding up mincemeat making – use scissors to chop up your fruit!

    Love the blog (and the photos) – it’s so professional compared to mine!

    Reply
    • Aimee@clevermuffin
      20 December 2011 at 10:33 pm (3 years ago)

      Awesome tips! And I have to say that’s very dedicated of your mum to make up an enormous batch or shortcut pastry and freeze it. Tell her she’s free to send some my way anytime! Thanks for stopping by! :)

      Reply
  16. Amy
    21 December 2011 at 11:34 am (3 years ago)

    Haha, I love this post…it totally made me smile :) I’m sorry to hear your pie baking experience was so exhausting…but sometimes you gotta try it once to know! The look delicious.

    Reply
  17. spicegirlfla
    23 December 2011 at 6:07 am (3 years ago)

    wow!! I’m seeing so many of these and I really like how you cut out the different shapes on top! You are hilarious! This was a winning post of the year!!

    Reply
  18. Laney
    30 September 2012 at 9:54 am (2 years ago)

    These look fantastic and will taste heavenly cf’d to shop bought. My mum makes her own every year despite the effort just bc they taste better. I’ve taken up the torch … it is a pain in the butt. I do curse and swear. But they do taste good.

    Reply
    • Aimee@clevermuffin
      1 October 2012 at 2:11 pm (2 years ago)

      Yea, it’s worth it in the end :) And I think you forget about the pain because I’m doing it again this year :)

      Reply
  19. marychery
    31 December 2012 at 9:57 am (2 years ago)

    had a great time reading your recipe! i recently cheated (for this 2012 xmas dessert) with filling delicious chrismas cupcakes with mincepie i shamelessly bought from a store ;) thank you both for all your try outs, next time i’ll try to follow your own recipe instead of my little trick!

    Reply
    • Aimee@clevermuffin
      8 January 2013 at 11:23 am (2 years ago)

      That’s not cheating – it’s clever! Whatever works for you I always think :)

      Reply
  20. Angela Hey (@amhey)
    22 December 2013 at 4:54 pm (9 months ago)

    Way too complex. This is how you can make decent pastry – take two cups of flour (any kind – sometimes I use brown bread flour, sometimes self-raising) and 4 oz of butter. Chop the butter and throw both into food processor. When the butter is mixed add about 4 tablespoons of cold water and be very careful to watch so you don’t burn out the motor – if it consolidates into one ball you are OK – else dribble in tiny bits of water until it sticks together then immediately turn off the food processor.

    Put dough in fridge covered with a wet tea towel or clean cloth or wet paper towel or press down in a fruit bowl and stick a plate on top – anything to stop it drying out. If the muffin or mince pie tin is metal, grease by rubbing around some old butter with the paper the butter came out of. I’d grease, even if non-stick. If silicone no need to grease.

    Get about 1/4 cup of flour on a big wooden board – or if you have a flat counter top can use that and roll it around with a rolling pin.

    Take 1/4 of your pastry and roll it in the flour – then roll it out – you do it with a small part of the pastry so it doesn’t go all over the floor – unless you have a large counter.

    Then get some really good, stainless steel if possibly, pastry cutters and if you roll thin you can start to cut the base with the largest size cutter. Mine just fit in a 24-size small muffin tin (although I do prefer the more shallow mince pie tins). When you have cut as many as you can from your pastry roll up the raggy bits left and start on a new 1/4 of the pastry, roll, cut until you have 24 bases. Then combine the raggy bits and squash with minimal handling then roll out and cut out 24 tops with the next smallest size (if in muffin tin) or same size (if using a mince pie shallow tin).

    Put your bases in bake tray – get a teaspoon and spoon in mincemeat – easy to make your own – put dried fruits with grated apple, brown sugar and sherry in a jar – can heat all up on stove before putting in a jar (keeps for years in the fridge) – then store until ready – stir before using.

    Then get a bowl of water and dip a finger in it and wipe the edge of a top and push it on top of a mince pie – do this 23 more times. Then cut two slits in top of each pie and put in very hot oven – silicone will only go up to 400F, but if metal pan do 425 for about 10 min. While mince pies are cooling on a wire rack get a tea strainer and a teaspoon of powdered sugar. Sift sugar on mince pies. Done.

    Reply
    • Aimee@clevermuffin
      21 January 2014 at 10:57 pm (8 months ago)

      That looks awesome :) I look forward to test running that one next Christmas or next time I have have an excuse to make pies.

      Reply

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