Every family has one. The one food that is always on the table at Christmas time. It can be anything from your grandma’s casserole to your uncle’s glazed ham. At my in-law’s house, it’s fruit mince pies. Janet, my mum-in-law, makes hundreds of these tiny flaky, sweet pies every December to give to neighbours, team mates and friends. There’s always a tray of these on the counter or coffee table on Christmas Day and Boxing Day, and they’re pretty much all gone by the end of the day.
Jan emigrated with her family from England to Australia when she was 14. Her mum made these pies, and as far as we know, her mum’s mum made these too. We don’t actually know how old the recipe as it’s never actually been written down, but I think it’s safe to assume it’s at least 100 years old.
I’ve watched Jan make these pies before and thought I had written the recipe correctly and had been making these correctly for the last couple of years. I realised while filming Jan make these that I was doing quite a few things wrong! So even I will be watching this video a few times when I make my next few batches!
Here’s my video on how to make these delicious pies.
There are few tips and tricks Jan told me while off camera that you should bear in mind while making these delicious little concoctions:
- Never make the dough ahead of time. You always want to make it fresh, and it’s easier to roll when made fresh.
- Always use very cold lard and ice water. The colder the lard, the flakier the pastry.
- When your dough starts to shrink back once rolling it a few times, it’s time to make a fresh batch. Keep the used dough on hand, just in case you need to make a few extra tops or bottoms.
- Always bake in a single layer. Using both rack in your oven will cause the bottom pies to steam instead of bake.
- Jan always uses lard for her pie pastry, never butter. Lard makes a lighter pastry that works really well for these fruit mince pies.
- Jan also has always use Robertson’s Fruit Mince (or mincemeat as it’s called in the UK). Her mum used them too. They’ve been around for over 100 years and their product is outstanding. You’re welcome to make your own fruit mince, but why do that when you can conveniently buy a few jars of it?
- Jan has never used any mini pie tins, always the “patty pie” tins. These are usually readily available in Coles and Woolies here. If you can’t find them in your local supermarket, you can find them on Amazon. If you’re searching the net I’ve also seen them called fruit mince pie tins.
While this is an incredibly easy recipe to make, there are few steps in it and will take some time. It would certainly be an excellent Christmas recipe to do with the kids, and they can help roll the dough and fill the pies. Once you get the hang of it, you can churn these bad boys out in no time like Jan, who makes 10 dozen in less than two hours!
The challenging part here is as this recipe was never written down, this is a bit of guesstimation involved in terms of the ratio of flour. The recipe I have written down seems pretty close, which is why I’ve put “approximately” next to most ingredients. but you’re welcome to try your own amount of ingredients. Remember though, it should always be more plain flour than self raising. You don’t want your pies to puff up too much.
So without further ado, here’s the recipe!
Jan’s Fruit Mince Pies
- Approx. 1 1/2 cups plain flour
- Approx 1 cup self raising flour
- Approx 1/2 cup caster sugar
- 3/4 stick of lard (lard in Australia come in 250 gram sticks. So you need approximately 187 grams, or approximately 6.6 ounces)
- Ice water
- Robertson’s fruit mince
- Egg wash
- Icing sugar
- Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius, or 390 Fahrenheit.
- Drop the flours and sugar in a food processor and pulse to combine.
- Add the lard, and one a medium speed mix until blended.
- Add the ice water, one teaspoon at a time until the dough forms a ball. You don’t want a sticky dough, just enough water to get all the ingredients incorporated.
- Drop the dough onto a floured surface and roll until it’s about 1/4 of an inch thick. You’ll know if you’re dough is too sticky if it sticks to the surface. If you are using a silicone mat to roll on, you want to just start to see any lines from the mat come through.
- Use a 4 inch cookie cutter to cut out the pie bases. Place them into your well oiled patty pie tins and lightly press them into the molds.
- Fill the bases with about 1 teaspoon of fruit mince. Don’t over fill, as the mince thins out once heated.
- Roll out your dough again about 1/4 inc thick and use a 2 inch cookie cutter to cut out the tops.
- Paint one side of the tops with water and place on top of the fruit mince. The water helps create a seal.
- Use a fork to prick holes into the tops. This is to let any steam out while they’re baking.
- Paint with egg wash and then bake them until golden brown, about 15-20 minutes.
- Once cooled, get them out of the pan and onto a plate. Dust with icing sugar. Pack them in a Christmas tin or gift bags only once they’re fully cooled.