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What is a mince pie?


WARM fruity insides surrounded by a crust of butter pastry, possibly with dollop of cream. Mince pies, also known as minced pies, are set to rock your world this British Christmas. But the name mince pie can be a tad off-putting for those who don’t know exactly what is inside that pastry crust.

Let’s start with pie basics: a pie is traditionally any enclosed pocket of pastry with filling inside. Now the mince pie can be a confusing at best and frustrating at worst, even for some Brits.

Mince pies often conjure up images of minced meat but this is a common mistake or misconception. The filling of a Christmas mince pie is made of fruit these days. It is called minced ‘meat’ but is not made of meat as the name might suggest.

Where did the name come from? The old way of making a mince pie used suet, which is minced mutton or beef fat. But this practice is now rarely used and most if not all supermarkets now have meat-free mince pies. Glad we cleared that up…

So what does go into a mince pie? The ingredients for the filling for an average mince pie are raisins, sultanas, currants, suet (vegetarian) and sugar. Loads of sugar. As well as spices such a nutmeg and cinnamon, it all comes together to make a sweet gooey centre, but that’s only half of it.

The pastry is just as important as the filling. It should be crumbly and sweet, not too dry and ideally dusted with icing sugar. If you really want to get into the festive spirit brandy can be used in the cooking process for some definite Christmas cheer.

Where does this delicious treat come from? The modern mince pie as we know it today is a British invention, like all the best things, and is traditionally served during the Christmas period. Enjoyed almost exclusively in the UK it has been popular since the Victorian age. Most Brits from old to young know the sweet taste of a mince pie and it is often as nostalgic as it is tasty. After going through about 13 different recipes since the original and shrinking in sizes the mince pie really has evolved from a savoury sweet pie that was oblong shaped to a small sweet treat produced by the pack.

All that is left is for you to go out and try one, or two or three…we won’t judge. 

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