Mince Pie Pastry

Mince Pie Pastry

Christmas on a plate

In our house it would not be Christmas without home made mince pies, a sweet fruity filling in a lovely buttery shortcrust pastry. For our family they really are Christmas on a plate. I generally make my first batch just after Thanksgiving. They never last long. So far I have made four dozen this season and it is only the 7th of December. Oh, and when I am making mince pies at home, for some reason, I have to listen to Michael Bublé, so click on the link and continue reading.

It is virtually impossible to buy mince pies in the States, so in Darien I made hundreds of them. I have lovely memories of standing in my kitchen, and at the Darien Community Centre, with my fabulous girls as we prepared for Christmas parties and the Christmas Tea. I have to do a special shout out to Caroline Burke, who probably made even more pies than me. She brought her own pastry cutters!

In this post I am going to share my favourite sweet pastry recipe.  I use it not only for mince pies, but also for strawberry tarts and lemon meringue pies.

My dear friend Cathy gave me the recipe, many years ago, when we both lived in Wimbledon. Cathy told me she found it on a Stork margarine wrapper. I want to say a big thank you to Stork, but must confess I have only ever made the pastry with butter. It has been my goto pastry recipe for over twenty years. The pastry is very well behaved and also freezes well.  I always make a big batch and if I do not need all of it I throw the rest in the freezer for another day.


You can buy jars of mincemeat but I have been making my own for over twenty years.  I always use Delia Smith’s mincemeat recipe from her fabulous ‘Christmas’ cookbook, and making it has become part of my Christmas ritual. When I lived in America I used to have to import (vegetarian) suet into the US. This required serious forward planning, but it is an essential ingredient for mincemeat.  If you fancy making your own mincemeat but do not have access to suet I have found a recipe by Nigella which does not need it. I love the large amount of fresh and dried cranberries she uses and I have started adding cranberries to my own mincemeat as it seems to make it even more Christmassy.

A tiny bit of history

Mince pies have been enjoyed as part of a British Christmas feast from as far back as the 12th century.  Originally they would have been a mixture of exotic dried fruit, newly discovered precious expensive spices and minced meat, ox tongue or mutton. They were also rectangular in shape. By the 17th century they were generally round, but it was the arrival of cheap sugar in the 18th century which changed the essential taste of the filling.  Some mincemeat recipes still add meat but for most of us the addition of beef suet is as far as we want to go. For a more detailed history read this great article I found in the Independent.

Tiny mince pies

I was catering a party for my dear friend Grace a few years ago and she asked, in that lovely British way, if I could possibly make tiny little mince pies. Just a bite and no more. I did, and since then I have become rather obsessed with making tiny pies. They really are a perfect size and so small that you can always eat at least one (or two) no matter how much you have indulged.  I have also started topping my mince pies with stars.  No more fiddly pie tops for me.

The secret to a decent mince pie is rolling out the pastry for the crust as thinly as possible.  It is a fine balancing act, as you need to make it thick enough to support the filling, but not so thick that the pie is all pastry.  Then you need to cram as much filling into the pie without it spilling over the side. Easy!

I have always used ounces when making this pastry.  For my dear American, cup using, friends I have added a cup conversion. I used Danish flour so see my warning notes on conversions.

I would recommend using either imperial or metric measures.

Best ever sweet pastry recipe

December 7, 2017

I am giving the flour and icing sugar quantities twice as they are added separately. It is how I think of the recipe so I am not making a mistake when I repeat the quantities


  • 8oz/225g/15/8 cups plain or all purpose flour
  • 2oz/55g/3/8 cup icing/confectioners sugar
  • 10oz/280g/21/2 sticks butter, softened
  • 2Tbs cold water
  • 1tsp lemon juice
  • 2egg yolks
  • 8oz/225g/15/8 cups plain or all purpose flour
  • 2oz/55g/3/8 cup icing/confectioners sugar
  • Step 1 Add the first batch of flour and sugar to a mixing bowl.
  • Step 2 Add softened butter.
  • Step 3 Mix egg yolks, lemon juice and water in a small bowl, then add to flour and butter.
  • Step 4 Cream mixture together. I use my kitchen aid.
  • Step 5 Add the second batch of flour and sugar.
  • Step 6 Beat mixture again until just combined.
  • Step 7 Tip onto a floured surface and knead lightly.
  • Step 8 Divide mixture into two and quickly knead each half into a smooth round disk.
  • Step 9 Wrap in clingfilm and refrigerate for at least twenty minutes
  • Step 10 Generally I bake this pastry at 400f/22c
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