Since the middle ages, the humble mince pie has been a British Christmas staple, filled with a mixture of minced meat, chopped up fruit, and a preserving liquid such as kirsch. Mincemeat was initially a good way of preserving meat without salting, curing, smoking or drying it.
Today’s mince pies bear little resemblance to the early versions. Still, as the recipes, methods and ingredients available have developed over the years, we have ended up with a tasty treat, made in the same way it has been for years.
Every year more vegan-friendly varieties are available in the supermarkets. Still, it is also effortless to make your own, and they are much tastier!
Many shop-bought mincemeats are naturally suitable for vegans. They are generally made with vegetable suet rather than beef suet. If you are short on time, feel free to use a shop-bought one instead of making your own.
Homemade mincemeat is very simple to make, however, and tastes much better than the shop-bought alternative. I would recommend making the mincemeat in advance as it needs time to cool and set, and the flavour is best when it has had a little time to mature. However, it is still utterly delicious if you only have time to make it the day before baking the vegan mince pies.
For the Pastry:
- 200g (7oz) Plain Flour
- 90g (3oz) Dairy-Free Butter
- 75g (2.5oz) icing sugar
- 2tbsp soya milk
For the mincemeat:
- 1 large apple (around 200g), peeled and grated
- 200g mixed dried fruit
- 390g jar black cherries in kirsch
- 100g skinless hazelnuts, roasted and roughly chopped
- 1 orange, zested and juiced
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp ginger
- 1 tsp allspice
- 150g dark brown sugar
or 300g (10.5oz) Vegan mincemeat
- Preheat the oven to 180C/355F/Gas 4
- To make the mincemeat.
- Tip all the mincemeat ingredients into a casserole dish or roasting tray – be sure to include half the kirsch from the jar of cherries. Mix everything together, then cover with a lid or a sheet of foil. Bake for 35-40 mins until all the sugar has melted. The mixture is bubbling slightly at the edges, and the liquid has reduced (the mixture firms a bit as it cools, so be careful not to over-reduce). Set aside to cool completely. It can be made up to three days in advance and chilled in the fridge.
- To make the pastry add the flour, butter and icing sugar to a food processor and pulse until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Transfer this mixture to a large bowl and bring it together with your hands, careful not to overwork the pastry. If the pastry seems a little wet, add a small amount of flour. Alternatively, if it is too dry, add a dash of water. Once the pastry is formed, wrap in cling film and place in the refrigerator for about 20 minutes.
- Remove the pastry from the fridge and roll out 4-5mm thick. Line the inside of muffin tins, then fill the pastry with mincemeat. With a pastry cutter, cut out stars from the remaining pastry and place these stars on the top, brushing with milk to glaze
- Place into the oven for 25-30 minutes until the pastry is cooked through and crisp.
- Make the mincemeat at least the day before you want to bake the mince pies, but you can make it weeks or even months in advance if you like.
- Think about shopping for ingredients at your local eco or refill store. This would allow you to only buy what you need, reducing possible food waste.