These small, sweet delicacies originate from the Middle Ages in Britain. Traditionally associated with Christmas and the Christian celebration, mince pies were baked in small, rectangular tins, shaped like the crib that the baby Jesus slept in. The ingredients included three spices: cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves - to represent the gifts bought by the three kings.

I've read that these pies originally contained minced meat and were intended as a way of preserving meat for the winter. Perhaps people substituted fruit as a cheaper alternative and that's how the mincemeat we know today came about.

It is thought to be lucky for you to eat a mince pie on each of the twelve days of Christmas, provided that each one is baked by a different person. Presumably this was to lengthen the odds of getting food poisoning!

This is my Mom's recipe for mince pies. You'll never look at Store-bought ones the same way again.



250g Flour 250g Butter (very cold) 1/2 and egg, or 1 egg yolk 90ml Ice Cold Water 2 tsp. Lemon Juice Cut Butter into small blocks. Rub the butter into the flour, but not too much, the chunks of butter should still be visible. Beat egg, water and lemon juice together. Add egg mixture to flour mixture, and stil until just blended. Refrigerate before rolling out. Makes 3-4 dozen.


Mix 1 unpeeled grated apple into 1 jar of fruit mincemeat.

To make the pies, cut out rounds with a cookie cutter, and place them in the bottom of a patty pan. Put one heaped teaspoon of mince into each one. Brush the edges of the lids with beaten egg, so it 'glues' down the lid. press another round on top, and press down the edges. Brush the top with beaten egg, and prick a hole into the top of each pie.

Bake for 15-20 minutes at 190 degrees centigrade. Personally, I like them much better when they're room temperature, not hot at all, but some people seem to prefer them hot. In any case, careful eating them when they come out of the oven, that mince stores heat really well.

Written for The Ninjagirls Christmas Special.

Mince pies did indeed contain meat once upon a time. Back in the middle ages, when fashions moved more slowly, meat dishes were frequently flavoured with fruit, and minced or processed food was always popular.

I have eaten fruit mince from a jar, and it was fine. But making your own fruit mince is very simple, and takes about half an hour. If you want to give a home made gift, but don't have the time and energy for the full fruit mince pie, why not fill some clean, sanitised jars with fruit mince and put a really nice label on them?

I recommend keeping this fruit mince in the fridge for up to a week before use. If you plan on keeping it longer, bake it into a pie or put it in the freezer. There is a bit of grating and chopping, so exercise your common sense when cooking with children. It is a very flexible recipe: measure by guesswork, substitute what you have to hand, switch in things you like, and see what happens. This recipe makes about 2 cups of fruit mince.



  1. Chop the raisins into pieces about the same size as the currants. If you like a very fine fruit mince, also chop the sultanas.
  2. Grate the apple (don't bother to peel it).
  3. Melt the butter and stir in the brandy.
  4. Combine all ingredients in a bowl.
  5. Cover and store in a cool place for 2-3 days before using.
  6. If you are bottling this as a gift, sanitise the jars and fill with fruit mince. Pour a little extra melted butter over the top of the fruit mince - just a tiny bit, to give it a bit of a 'seal'. Cover it with a proper lid as well.

To turn your fruit mince into pies, make or buy some shortcrust pastry and use that to line any kind of small tins: patty pans, regular or mini sized muffin trays, small friand tins, etc. Fill the pastry shell with fruit mince: you don't want it overflowing, but there is nothing here that will expand, so be generous. You can either top the pie with a full pastry lid, or you can cut small pastry shapes to top each pie. Brush the tops with milk or egg as preferred and bake for 10 or 15 minutes at 180oC until the pastry is cooked. Sprinkle with icing sugar before serving them warm or cold.

If you have any leftover fruit mince after making pies, you can try baking it into a muffin, or stirring it through softened icecream.

Mince" pie` (?).

A pie made of mince-meat.


© Webster 1913.

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