“ A festive staple since medieval times (though the chopped liver has long since been dropped),the eating of mince pies on Christmas day was made illegal by Oliver Cromwell. This statute no longer stands and in celebration of our freedom to eat these Christmas treats dooyoo invites you to compare and contrast the varieties on offer. Do you prefer nipping out to the shops to get the readymade ones or would you rather bake them from scratch? „
An elderly neighbour was talking to me recently about Christmas when she was a little girl - she is in her 80's. She told me that the Christmas food to aspire to then was shop bought rather than home made. It was more expensive to buy than to make so had the aura of luxury in her eyes. Roll on 80 odd years and the opposite seems to be true. The ladies I join for regular volunteering events voted on whether we should only provide home cooked mince pies for our OAP Christmas party. Some people seemed to be falling over themselves in their eagerness to say that ready made products would never touch their children's lips as if Mr Kipling was tantamount to poison! I think they expected me to agree with them knowing that I am a keen baker. I don't, and vetoed because I didn't want anyone to feel that if they bought a box from the supermarket that their act of generosity wasn't good enough.
For one thing it depends on the pies you make. I think the first batch I made as a teenager would not have been superior to even the very worst shop bought version. Pastry was not my strength, but practice makes perfect thank goodness! I can go to a local "artisan" baker and buy hand made mince pies that are delicious indeed but they are technically shop bought.
I am not especially keen on Mr Kipling's pies as I find the pastry a bit disappointing but there are plenty of lovely ones available to buy. I have heard good things of the Lidl and Aldi versions doing well in taste tests even when compared to the likes of Harrods offerings. My own families favourite are from Marks and Spencer. I however like a not too boozy tasting mincemeat and my absolute favourite pie is from Iceland so far. They are also preferred to the more buttery kind by younger visitors I have discovered. There is no way that all shop bought pies are equal or taste the same, that's for sure.
I love the smell of my kitchen come Christmas and it is admittedly hard to beat the pleasure of taking the first batch from the oven and swiping one when they are still hot - for quality control purposes of course. Making my own also gives me the chance to try different pastry recipes - for example an hazelnut dough or one with added orange peel. You can also easily vary the spices and fruit inside or add an unusual topping. Crumble tops are my favourite whereas my dad loves it if I make him some with meringue lids.
My own solution this time around is a compromise. I love baking and I have been lucky in previous years to have plenty of time to devote to it over Christmas. I took a days holiday to make my Christmas cakes and puddings this year, but I am unlikely to have time to do as much baking in December as previous ones. My solution is still to make my own mincemeat because I like to tailor it to suit my families own particular tastes, but I will be making only a batch or two using my own pastry. Instead I have bought some ready made shortcrust and puff sheets to save time. I do enjoy making pastry but not when I have to rush it so it makes sense to save time on the part I will enjoy slightly less. Shop bought pastry is good in general I have found, and even jars of mincemeat are easy to personalise if you stir in a few extra cranberries or nuts or whatever you please. I make the mincemeat from scratch because I love the smells that come with that! I will also buy some more boxed pies happily. If I had more room in the freezer, I would also freeze some but I do think freshly made taste just a fraction better.
If you don't like baking, or would prefer sending your time doing something else festive or otherwise I am going to stick my head above the parapet and say that I don't see there is any point bothering with making your own. I also remember my mum crying with tiredness after making everything from absolute scratch from stuffing to mince pies and marzipan and whilst she always said it was worth it in the end because she wanted us to have a "proper home made Christmas", it didn't fill her with seasonal spirit at the time! Having to cater for a lot of people didn't help as she had to bake in dozens and dozens. I would have been happy with Mr Kipling! If time and inclination are both on your side though and you have never made mince pies because you think it is hard - do give it a try. It isn't difficult - or time consuming if you are making relatively modest quantities, and the satisfaction of dishing up something you made yourself is enormous. But if it's not for you, enjoy you box from the supermarket and especially enjoy taste testing a few to find your favourite! Happy Christmas.
I have just read an interesting `Mince pie` review on Dooyoo and it instantly made me think of the visit to Asda that we made yesterday.
Although we can eat Mince pies all of the year around if we choose the sweet pastry is primarily associated with Christmas and Asda's in-store bakery must have been going flat out to produce such enormous quantities of Mince pies.
In my very `imaginative` brain I have visions of how certain food items once used to look, in my minds eye I see the Christmas Mince pie as being something very special, soft shortcrust pastry that is filled to the brim with luscious sweet mincemeat, where the Mince pie has been sealed at the edges the sweet syrup has overflowed onto the crust of the pastry and made a delicious caremelised edging and the whole treat is awash with a snowstorm of pure white icing sugar. ( eat your heart out Emmald 'cos it ain't going to happen!)
Asda have quite a lot to offer when it comes to Mince pies, there are rich fruit mince pies, iced mince pies, deep filled mince pies, extra deep mince pies, extra rich mince pies, Asda Smart price mince pies and if you are not concerned about cost then you can opt for the All butter Mince pies.
The prices vary according to the quality of the Mince pie, you can pay as little as under 9p or as much as just over 27p for a single mince pie.
After trundling around Asda for over three hours, taking into account a couple of pit stops for the loo and a coffee break I was starting to feel decidedly jaded. As you can imaging Asda was buzzing, there were offers galore and my dear old Mum was enjoying doing her Christmas shopping.
The Asda bakery aisles were brimming with Christmas Fayre and there was something for everyone. Having pretty much spent all that we intended to spend we decided to wend our way to the checkouts via the Asda bakery reduced trolley ( to see if we could find a snack to boost our blood sugar before we made our way home !)
The Asda bakery reduced goods trolley did not fail to disappoint and we managed to buy a pack of four puff pastry Mince pies that were initially marked at 87p for 52p, not a bad bargain methinks.
The four puff pastry mince pies had been placed into a rickety clear plastic container and this had been sealed down with a sticky label.
Asda have chosen to keep the ingredients all to themselves, the label has no list of ingredients and no calorie count, but at 52p for four I could live with that.
These Asda puff pastry Mince pies are like a small patty, about the same size as the rim of a teacup. The Asda bakers have punched two little air slits into the pastry before they have been cooked and they have been generously sprinkled with sugar.
I have to say that the puff pastry is more than plentiful, in fact I feel that there is a little bit too much pastry. The pastry looks light and it does have masses of flaky layers but on the negative side the pastry does seem to be a little bit leathery.
Asda have not stinted on the layer of sugar that costs the top of the pie and that layer tastes good, the sugar has hardened and it has a crackly texture that is sweet.
At first I wondered if Asda were trying to play party games with their customers, `Hunt the Mincemeat in the pie `was the game that sprung to mind. I had chewed my way through quite a few layers of pastry before I struck gold. But that gold was not a nugget, it was more like dust.
Asda have provided plenty of puff pastry but they have not gone over the top with the helping of mincemeat.
The layer of mincemeat was sweet but it lacked body, there was far more sweet sauce than fruit but in all fairness I must say that what little mincemeat there was in the pie tasted fine.
Anyway, Asda had saved the day - we ate a mince pie each, we felt rejuvenated and headed off home.
But after giving the Asda mince pies some thought ( many women dream of Brad Pitt but I can easily fantasise about Asda mince pies ) I realised just where we had gone wrong.
The cold puff pastry needs warming gently in the oven, then the pie needs to be topped with a good sized blob of extra thick double cream.
If you like to enjoy a rich and generous Mince pie then make sure that you choose one from the upmarket range but if you are looking for a few dozen to serve to guests then as long as you warm them beforehand the Asda bakery version will be fine.
I was going to review Somerfield Deep Filled Mince Pies, until the Cooperative took over and I discovered that they vanished, so here I am instead reviewing the Cooperative Deep Filled Mince Pies, which on the nice red Christmassy pack say "rich shortcrust pastry cases filled with a delicious mincemeat and lightly dusted with sugar."
Wow are they right! The packaging shows a wonderful little pyramid of the aforesaid Mince Pies lightly dusted with sugar, and with a sweet little five pointed star on top, appetisingly displayed on white napkins ready to eat, lovely just as they are.
However, if you are adventurous and want to have them with custard, please do so, it adds to the already moist filling, and makes them delectable. I like them just as they are, and the filling is moist and not too spicy but evocative of childhood Christmas-time. I thoroughly recommend them, even although I am definitely not always a fan of Cooperative own branded products. They retail at £1.09 for a packet of 6 as I write.
Ingredients are as follows -
Wheat flour, Sugar, Sultanas (14%), Apples (11%), Margarine (with Emulsifier (Mono- and diglycerides of fatty acids - Vegetable)). Glucose Syrup, Vegetable Oil (Palm, Sunflower, Rapeseed), Dextrose, Candied Mixed Peel (Orange Peel, Glucose - Fructose Syrup, Lemon Peel, Sugar, Acidity Regulator (Citric acid)), Milk Protein, Cornflour, Mixed Spices (Coriander, Cassia, Cinnamon, Ginger, Nutmeg, Caraway, Cloves), Acidity Regulator (Acetic acid), Humectant (Glycerol - Vegable)), Raising Agents (Disodium diphosphate, Sodium hydrogen carbonate), Malt Extract (Barley), Colour (Carotenes), Orange Oil, 54%, 45% Filling, 1% Sugar Dusting.
Allergy Advice - Contains Barley, Gluten, Milk, Wheat. May contain traces of nuts.
Made in UK using Turkish Sultanas and British Apples for Co-operative Group Ltd, Manchester M60 4ES
Storage - Once opened store in an air-tight container. Not suitable for home freezing.
Heating Guidelines -
* discard the outer packaging,
* retain in the foil trays,
* heat on a baking tray in centre of a pre-heated oven,
* do not heat more than once.
Conventional Oven - 8-9mins at Mark 5, 190 degrees c, 375 degrees F, Fan Oven - 6-7 mins at Mark 3, 170 degrees C, 325 degrees F.
Deep filled is a great description, indeed that is what they are. From the moment you open the packet and get that nice gentle spicy aroma to the time you open up that little individual tinfoil cupcake case and bite into them, to their absolute end, with your shirtfront covered in crumbs (everyone over forty years of age will know where I am coming from!!) you cannot fault their lovely pastry, rich and delicious and melt in the mouth, or their innards, gently spiced and moist.
Did I say moist again? Yes, to me that is the primary delight of these mince pies, and it is a must, as they can be too dry if cooked too long, which these are not.
Buy them, try them, and have a very Merry Christmas.
I've never been a big fan of store bought food, generally thinking that home made is better. And for me mince pies is the epitome of this. The pastry is too thick and dry, you can only have them cold (or reheat them which makes them even drier!), and the taste is pretty bland.
By making homemade you can use exactly the spices you like to your taste, the type of pastry you like, and they will always be fresh and tasty. Around Christmas time I tend to keep a big batch uncooked un the freezer ready to pop in the oven whenever someone drops round.
Personally I like mine homemade as I like an odd combination - warm but with icing! This will never set and you can't reheat icing, so the only way to get a hot mince pie with icing on is by doing your own. And once you've gone homemade store bought won't taste the same again.
Most of us have made jam tarts as a child, and the premise is the same. Use a cup to cut a circle of pastry (homemade is best but store bought will do), then spoon in a big dollop of mincemeat and that's it! It really is that easy!
I always thought that the shop bought mince pies were delicious, until I saw a recipe on TV a few years back and decided to bake my own.
After eating them homemade, fresh and still warm, there is just no comparison! I will never buy another ready made mince pie again.
However, store bought mince pies are often good value over the festive season and a lot quicker and more convenient than making your own.
If you would prefer to make your own, as I will be doing again this year, here is a nice simple recipe for mince pies which I adapted for myself, it was from the F word a few years back, it is simple and traditional but with a bit of a modern twist.
I do cheat; I buy the pastry from the shops ready made! I said I like to make my own, I didn't say I was the new Nigela!
* In my case store bought pastry, but feel free to make your own if you know how.
* 540g mincemeat ( this is on offer in Asda, two jars for £1.50
for the really good stuff)
* Orange zest
* Couple of tablespoons of Brandy
* Pinch of cinnamon
* 50ml milk
* 1 egg, beaten
* 50g caster sugar
* Butter for greasing tin
* Handful of roast chestnuts
* Handful of dried cranberries
How to make them:
1. Heat the oven to 220C/400F/Gas 6.
2. Mix the mincemeat together with the orange zest, brandy and cinnamon.
3. Lightly grease the tins with butter.
4. Roll out the pastry as thinly as possible. Cut out approximately 12 rounds with a pastry cutter (most pastry cutters have two sides, one with a greater diameter than the other, use the larger side for the base and the smaller for the lids) and place them in the base of your tins.
5. Prick all the pie bases with a fork to stop them rising. Fill each case with about 3 teaspoons of the mincemeat mix. You could also add some roast chestnuts and dried cranberries at this point for extra Christmas yumminess. Don't overfill or they will leak!
6. Brush the pie edges with a little bit of milk or egg whites.
7. Stamp out another 12 rounds, using the larger end of your cutter, for the lids and place over the mincemeat mix. You could also cut out a little holly leaf or star shape and place that onto too for a little Christmas spirit.
8. Pinch the pie edges together to seal. Brush over with egg whites and prick the tops with a fork. Bake in the oven for approx 20 minutes until golden brown.
9. Remove from oven and allow to cool.
10. Sprinkle a little icing sugar on top.
11. Eat whilst still warm!
I dont know anyone who doesnt love a mince pie at Xmas, in fact my boyfriend enjoys them so much he would eat them year round if they were available, sometimes I'm tempted to make some just to keep the peace!
I did read somewhere that back in the 1600's Oliver Cromwell banned anything to do with Xmas including mince pies and that ban still stands, so.....every year millions of people are technically breaking the law! I find that quite amusing.
We always buy Mr Kiplins mince pies as my boyfriend insists they're the best ones, plus they're usually on offer in Tesco, 99p for a box or 3 for 2 so I dont mind forkng out. Trouble is once we get them home they dont last 5 minutes, if I dont act quick and grab a couple I'm stuffed.
I have tried the supermarket own brand pies in the past and though they're fairly cheap they sometimes arent all that great, especially ones from Asda, so I would avoid those in future. If you cant find Mr Kipling ones (and thats unlikely to happen) then the next best are ones from Greggs, I used to work there so am a little biased but the mince pies were and still are the dogs with puff pastry and icing on the lids, scrummy.
I had a go at making my own mince pies this Xmas, I remembered a recipe by Jamie Oliver from his Xmas special last year using both puff and filo pastry and thought they looked easy to make and very tasty. They turned out tasty alright but were a right git to get out of the baking tin. I'm going to stick to shop bought from now on, much less stressful, and cheaper!
My Mum made the best ever mince pies but always kept her recipe a secret & now that she's sadly passed away the recipe is lost forever. There was something special about the pastry as it was very short with a perfect taste & texture which I've never been able to recapture in any other home-made or bought mince pies.
We're not actually great lovers of mince pies in our house but it doesn't seem right not to buy them at Christmas as they are such a traditional British food item. O always but them for unexpected guests or neighbours and, of course, for Santa!
I've tried mince pies from Tesco, Somerfield & Asda but my favourite ones are Iceland's own make at 18 for £2.
I think mince pies are very much a matter of taste (excuse the pun) as some people like a thick/thin pastry whilst others like a lot/little filling, some people like the filling to be very sweet whilst others like it tart...
Personally I think Iceland have it just right as their pies have a medium crust with a generous (but not overstuffed) filling & a light dusting of sugar.
Iceland's mince pies are a little crumbly but don't fall to pieces when you bite into them & each individual pie comes in it's own silver foil dish.
They are really nice served as they are, warmed up in the oven or served with custard, cream or ice-cream.
They are not a healthy sweet as the calorie & fat content is high - but hey - it's only Christmas once a year!
- prices & quality of shop-bought mince pies vary so much but Iceland's own-brand are fine for us.
- I've found, over the years, that price doesn't necessarily reflect quality & if mince pies are one of your priorities then it may be worth doing a little research in magazines or on Dooyoo etc to find the type to suit your taste?
- wish I has the recipe for my Mum's mince pies as I'd share it with you all!
I have to say that I only remember trying home made mince pieces one or twice, and I don't really remember liking them that much unfortunately! I'm not overly keen on pastry and even the thinnest shop bought ones are a little too much for me - I end up picking at least the crust off!
At Christmas we always have store bought mince pies at home, and though they aren't as fun or as fresh as making your own, they are a lot more convenient to keep around for when you fancy. I hate it when you have to eat something just because it's going to go stale or off!
Last weekend I bought some mince pies from Asda at the bargain price of 12 for £1.66. It saved me a LOT of time and hassle, especially as I was already planning to make a chocolate cake and buns to take into work!
I was a bit apprehensive, as even though the festive red packaging with lovely mince pie photos on it looked good, I wasn't sure how good the actual pieces would be, being so cheap. However, they were lovely. Lots of filling, not too much pastry, and decorated with a nice star on top. I'm ashamed to say I had three myself, but the rest of the office was just as bad and I think now there are only a couple left - which isn't bad going considering how many people are on 'diets'!
Mr Kipling makes exceedingly good mince pies, according to the spiel. I don't doubt that he does, but for me there is nothing nicer than the homemade product. It's just a shame they're so damned messy and time consuming to make - especially when you've received a last minute order for two dozen from the local church group. Step in, the supermarkets.
My family compared a range of supermarket 'in store' short-crust mince pies, giving marks for appearance, flavour, and that all important final factor - would they pass for home made? Our two adult testers, Sue and Dave, were joined by Terry (13) Tanya (15) and Mary (9). Here are the results:
1) ASDA In-store short crust pastry mince pies. Price: £1.08 for 6, 2 boxes for £1.50.
Initial impression: A basic, somewhat anaemic looking mince pie. 15 minutes in a hot oven didn't even start to turn these brown.
It did have a slightly irregular edge that meant you could pass it off as home-made at a pinch. These pies were fairly deep, so there was plenty of filling - it's just a pity the quality was so poor. An unattractive mush with no discernible vine fruits apart from currants. Eaten cold, there was an unattractive film of grease on top.
Pastry: Thicker than some of the others, which might be off-putting for anyone on a diet; that being said it was light and crumbly, more like flaky than shortcrust. This was let down by the rather uninspiring flavour: it left my mouth feeling greasy, and practically yelled 'cheap cooking fat masquerading as butter.'
Filling: Much as you'd expect at this price. Sweet and cloying, very moist when warm but with no hint of spices or booze. Tasted better than it looked - but only just. Best served with plenty of cream.
Overall verdict: Not bad for the price, but nothing special. To be fair, ASDA do sell an in-store luxury version for the same price many budget pies are sold elsewhere, and these are superb. Er -so I've been told, anyway.
Comments from our testers:
Mary: "I liked the mincemeat. Not too boozy. Sweet, like me!" Dave: "Too plain. Where are the holly leaves?!"
Best for: Kids and tight budgets.
Would I say I'd made them? Yes, but only as a last resort.
Total out of 10: 6
2) Morrisons: All butter short-crust mince pies with brandy. Price: £1.19 for 6, two packs for £2 (offer is 'mix and match' with 3 types to choose from in this price range)
Initial impression: A lovely looking pie with a definite home-made style you could easily pass off as your own, right down to the simple holly leaf decoration. A nice colour to begin with, they browned up well in the oven. The pastry cut neatly into two without crumbling too much, and was packed to the brim with premium mincemeat.
Pastry: A light, buttery taste that wasn't too greasy. Although it had a firmer texture than some of the others, it still lacked the denseness associated with factory made pies.
Filling: As nice to look at as it was to taste, this mince was packed with fruit, nuts and cherries and was equally good hot or cold. Tangy and moist, with just the right amount of sugar, these smelt as good as they tasted. The liberal use of brandy overpowered the spices a bit, and might be off-putting to some(probably because it was mainly flavouring, rather than the real thing)
Overall verdict: One of our favourites, only just pipped into second place.
Comments from our testers:
Terry: "Coo, I like these. Very grown up!" Sue: "Not quite as good as mine, but almost!"
Best for: Appearance - and adult parties.
Would I say I'd made them? Oh yes, definitely. Not that I did, mind ...
Total out of 10: 8
3) Tesco Short-crust mince pies. Price: 6 for £1.19. Buy one, get one free (Again, a 'mix-and-match' deal)
Appearance: Nicely decorated, but like ASDA's were insipid to look at (although they did brown up after heating) A bit "factory built" to look at. Crumbly texture on cutting revealed a measly amount of otherwise reasonable filling. Looked very dry when cold.
Pastry: Disappointing. More like a bought-in pie than store made. No hint of butter, and left a greasy residue in the mouth.
Filling: Very tangy and not too sweet, but with no taste of booze. They were also very dry compared to the others, even after heating. The box warns they contain nuts, but all I could find were currants and mixed peel.
Overall verdict: A bit of a let-down. I was expecting better from Tesco. A tie with ASDA.
Comments from our testers:
Tanya: "Who nicked all the mincemeat?" Dave: "Is this pastry made with lard? Good value, though."
Best for: Value, and for popping rum butter inside - they need it, and there's plenty of room!
Would I say I made them? No.
Total out of 10: 6
4) Sainsbury: 4 butter enriched short-crust mince pies, baked in store. Price: 99p. Buy one, get one free.
Appearance: Although there were only four in a packet, this was a bigger, deeper pie than the rest, and matched up well against 'luxury' in store ranges. Simply decorated but with a gorgeous golden colour that didn't burn on heating, these look like they'd just come out of a farmhouse oven. The latest batch I tried (yes, I did go back for more!) had a decidedly non-perfect, home-baked look about them, and were the only pies I found that were still warm to the touch. Someone had been working hard that morning! The aroma was indulgently succulent, and cut in half the feather light pastry flaked away to reveal a moist, succulent filling that was full to the brim.
Pastry: Delicious! Buttery, light and moist, and the only pie where you could really smell the crust on heating. Definitely our favourite.
Filling: Moist, sweet and spicy. Loaded with premium fruit, nuts and cherries with a hint of genuine booze. As good hot as cold.
Overall verdict: The winner by a mile.
Best for: Everything.
Would I say I made them? Yes, so long as I'd bashed them about a bit first.
Marks out of 10: 10 (In my earlier review, they lost one point for not looking 'rustic' enough. The bakery staff probably go on courses to achieve this, however.) THE WINNER.
Comments from our testers:
Oh, and incidentally:
5) Waitrose: Patisserie individual mince pie. Price: 45p each (no reduction for buying in bulk)
Appearance: Very plain and insipid, with a factory look. Pastry was thick and dense on cutting, with a meagre amount of filling which belied the price. Smelt nice but then, they all did.
Pastry: Boring and artificial. If there was butter here, I certainly couldn't find it. Greasy texture, too.
Filling: Not bad, but nothing to write home about. Plenty of fruit and nuts - but so there should be, at this price. Decent amount of booze, but it tasted artificial.
Best for: Showing off at very expensive parties - preferably those where folk are so sozzled they can't even find the food, let alone eat it.
Would I pass them off as home made: Look, the sort of people who buy these pay other people to cook for them, so does it matter?
Comments from my testers: None. They had made themselves scarce, leaving me to pick up the bll.
Overall verdict: An expensive disapointment. It just goes to show, you don't always get the best deal by buying a luxury product.
(NB Certain names have been changed to protect identities)