Time to make mince pies.
I've never bought one but I have sampled a few commercial mince pies. They are a completely different beast to the homemade pie. The commercial pies I have eaten have been overwhelmingly sweet, the mincemeat too runny and syrupy, oozing all over your fingers as you eat; the pastry sweet and powdery, clumping together and sticking itself to the roof of your mouth, and invariably they are too deep making the sweetness even harder to deal with.
I like my mince pies simple and unpretentious. I don't want a 'twist' on the traditional pie. No meringue or frangipane on top, no marzipan or rum butter inside, no fancy pastry shapes and definitely no low-fat filo pastry nonsense.
I want plain unsweetened shortcrust pastry and I want mincemeat inside and nothing else.
Sometimes I use Delia Smith's quick flaky pastry for mince pies which is very good but this year I'm sticking to shortcrust. I favour half lard and half butter. Butter for flavour and lard for shortness.
If you are tempted to buy ready-made shortcrust pastry may I just say I think you are mad.
Bought pastry is more expensive and not as nice. It's made with vegetable oil not butter so you are paying more for inferior ingredients. If you think it will save you time let me tell you that it takes just ten minutes to make pastry by hand and seconds to do it in a food processor. You can make lots at the same time and freeze it.
Add 4-5 tablespoons of cold water, bring together to form a dough. You are supposed to refrigerate it for half an hour or so before rolling but I find it much more manageable to roll it out straight away.
Use a bun tin not a muffin tin. Grease the holes lightly first.
Do not overfill -a scant tablespoon should do it.
I don't worry much about how they look.
Bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden in a hot oven 200ºc/180ºc fan oven
I made a dozen quincemeat pies and a dozen ordinary mince pies.
The quincemeat was good but not better than ordinary mincemeat.
I had a go at real mincemeat last year, the kind with minced beef in as was traditional once upon a time. The suet survives to remind us of mincemeat's meaty past. The real mincemeat was nice, it is true you cannot taste the meat in it. So why bother putting it in? It seems such a waste of meat to me. Better in your bolognese.