John Lewis home economist, Phil Wilson – or better known as Wilson – shares his recipe and top tips for making the perfect pâté sucrée or better known as sweet crust pastry mince pies.

Wilson said: “No Christmas supper would be complete without some delicious mince pies. A much-loved festive staple, whether you’re leaving a snack out for Father Christmas or treating yourself and guests.

“Here are my tops tips for making sweet crust (pâte sucrée) pastry mince pies that extra bit special:

1. Make sure all of the ingredients are cold and try not to work them too much (hence the food processor), the less you work them the better. If you’re not using a food processor try a pastry blender.
2. Chill the pastry twice, once before rolling and once before you cook it. This will stop the pastry from shrinking and ensure a nice short texture.
3. Always bake in the middle of the oven. Convection ovens, especially at 200°C, are too hot at the top shelf.
4. Always bake the pastry longer than you think. If it looks ready, leave it a little longer. Undercooked pastry is just as bad as overcooked pastry. With an egg wash they’re ready when you have a beautiful golden blush.
5. Leave your pastry to rest a good 10mins after cooking before you remove the pies from their tins or you risk them breaking.
6. Once cooked, the pastry will stay fresh for a few days when stored in an airtight container and will freeze well too. Ensure the mince pies are defrosted fully before reheating to ensure the middle is reheated properly.”

Mince Pies 016

THE RECIPE

Makes 12

Ingredients
350g plain flour
225g cold butter
100g golden caster sugar
1 large egg
1 tbsp orange zest
½ tsp ground cardamon
1 tsp mixed spice
1 jar Waitrose Christmas signature spice mincemeat
Egg/milk wash

Method
1. Mix the flour with the ground spices and blend with the butter in a food processor until it reaches a breadcrumb consistency.
2. Add the sugar, egg and using a Microplane zester, add the orange zest and blend until it forms a ball.
3. Remove from the food processor and wrap in cling film before popping into the fridge for 30mins to rest. (If you don’t have a food processor, use a large mixing bowl and a pastry blender to avoid burning the pastry.)
4. Preheat the oven to 200°C.
5. Take out your pastry and roll onto a floured surface. Roll out to a thickness just less than a pound coin.
6. Using a round cutter, cut out pastry to fit your mince pie trays, and fill with a tbsp of mince pie filling.
7. Egg wash your edges and place a smaller round pastry disc on top.
8. Crimp your edges and garnish with a few stamped out holly leaves.
9. Finally finish with a light egg wash and a sprinkle of golden caster sugar.
10. Bake in the middle of the oven for approximately 15mins until golden and the pastry is cooked.
11. Remove from the oven and leave to cool before removing from the tray or they could break.
12. Now all you need to do is leave a few for Father Christmas and tuck into the rest.

INFO
For more baking tips, come and visit John Lewis Newcastle at Eldon Square or call: 0191 232 5000 to make an appointment.

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