Ok, first thing's first. Before I do anything else I need to write down the recipe for the pastry I made mince pies with (my Mum wants to know what it is). These are the ones that were proclaimed 'Most Like Grandma's' at the carol night competition so they ought to be pretty good. The mincemeat was shop-bought this year, although I'm keen to try making that myself next time as well, but it seems that doing the pastry yourself is the clincher to making some seriously yummy pies.
To make 12 pies you will need:
225g butter/margarine (cut into chunks about the size of playing dice. You'll see why in a minute)
350g plain flour
100g caster sugar
A handful of milk
A pinch of salt
A rolling pin, pastry cutters/drinking glass, and one of those baking trays with dips in it for doing little pies and cakes.
1) Preheat your oven to 180C/ gas mark 6.
2) To make the pastry you start by mixing the flour and butter together. If you have a blender you can put it all in there but I think that's just boring! Instead, make sure the butter is in small chunks, roll up your sleeves and get stuck in, using your fingers to pinch and rub the two together. It will stick all over your hands but that's why it's fun!
3) When you're about halfway done with the rubbing, throw the sugar and salt (trust me) in and keep going until you get a firm dough. If it's cracking too much don't add liquid, just put a little more butter in there to stick it all together.
4) Throw down some flour on your worktop and roll out your pastry to about 1/2cm thick, maybe even less. If it starts to stick to your rolling pin then throw some flour on that too.
5) Cut out your pie bottoms and tops. If you don't have pastry cutters just flip a glass upside-down and use that. The bottoms go straight into the baking tray, and when you've put 1-2 teaspoons of mincemeat into it you can put the top on. Press round the edges with your fingers to join them.
6) Dip your (clean!) finger in the milk, and 'paint' it over the top of your pies. This glazes your pie and will go brown in the oven, helping you to see when they are cooked. If you have spare milk you can have it with your pies when they are done!
7) Stab your pies with a fork - for luck! (just kidding, for steam to get out)- and then they go in the oven for about 20mins or until they look a nice golden colour with some brown on the crust, whichever comes first.
*SECRET KNOWLEDGE!*: Before you try and pull the pies out of the tray, put your fingers round the edge of each pie and give it a sharp twist. That way you shouldn't pull the top off when you try and lift it.
8) EAT THEM!!! HOORAY!!!