Mince pies are made with crumbly pastry filled with mincemeat. If you don't have a favorite recipe, you can well use this one.
- Sift flour and salt into a bowl. Add butter to flour and cut into pieces with a metal blade. rub in the butter using your finger tips until the mixture looks like fine breadcrumbs.
- Add sugar to the bowl; mix quickly. Make a well in the center, add the egg yolks mixed with 1 Tbs chilled water. Stir with a round blade knife to make a dough. The dough is ready when it comes naturally together into a ball. If this is not happening, add a little water, just 1 tsp at a time and stir. Stop adding water when a ball forms.
- Knead lightly until smooth. Wrap the dough ball in foil, cling film or non PVC food wrap and chill for 30 minutes. It will make easier to work with it.
- Roll out 2/3 of the pastry on a lightly floured surface, leave the rest to make the covers. Cut 18-20 circles with a 3 inch (7.5 cm) undulated cookie cutter. Line a muffin pan or individual pie pans with them.
- Spoon mincemeat into each pie filling half of it only. Roll out the rest of the pastry and cut smaller circles or shapes, putting one on top of each pie. Brush with the beaten egg white. Bake in a preheated oven at 425° F (220° C) for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown.
- Let the pies cool slightly and remove from the pans. Transfer to a cooling rack and let them stand until they are easy to handle. Serve them, while still warm, with cream, custard or brandy butter.
This kind of pastry requires cool head and cool hands. Some ideas: chill the bowl and he knife before using it and dip your hands in chilled water, then dry, before rubbing the butter.
For festive mince pies, cut the lids using Holiday cookie cutters: holly leaves, crescent moons, stars, Christmas trees, you name it. Other option is to cut thin strips of pastry and make a lattice over the filling.
Mince pies can be prepared well ahead as they very well in an airtight container for several days.
Mince pies are also freeze very well. Set them on a tray and freeze this way, in the open. Once frozen, pack in plastic bags. Defrost before serving.
Reheat mince pies - already defrosted or from the pantry - for 10 minutes in a 325° F (160° C) oven.