Receive our Newsletter

The hush lifestyle delivered straight to your inbox with news, promotions and favourite content from our blog

  • Nap-inducing Mince Pies

    The festive sweet treat at the core of every Christmas carpet picnic, drinks party or overflowing table spread, we all have a beloved mince pie recipe we recycle each year.

    In her latest literary offering, 'The Little Library Cookbook', Kate Young recalls her first Christmas away from home when she turned to Nigella Lawson's trusted cookbook for help with established a new Christmas ritual of her own, making homemade mince pies. 

    Now adapted with annual variations by Kate (to be a bit fruitier and fresher, yet still rich and full of flavour), she's recreated the mince pies featured in Kate Atkinson's first novel 'Behind the Scenes at the Museum'...

    "This Christmas in 'Behind the Scenes at the Museum' is pivotal. It’s the moment where everything changes for the Lennox family. The rituals they have had in previous years fall apart, and Patricia and Ruby spend the days after Christmas in front of the television, with only mince pies and tinned food to sustain them. These sisters, on the couch together, make me feel homesick, and I long for a Boxing Day with my sister and a Christmas film. In her absence, I’ll return to my new rituals, and make a batch of mince pies." - Kate Young 

    Mince Pies

    "By Boxing Day we have settled into a kind of routine based loosely on television, sleep and mince pies."
    Behind the Scenes at the Museum by Kate Atkinson

    Makes 24 (in 8cm/3¼in diameter shallow muffin trays)

    I N G R E D I E N T S

    For the Mincemeat: 
    75ml/5tbsp/⅓cup port wine
    75g/6tbsp dark brown sugar
    1tsp ground ginger
    1/2tsp ground cloves
    1tsp ground cinnamon
    2 small apples, unpeeled, grated
    150g/5½oz/heaping 1cup sultanas/golden raisins
    150g/5½oz/heaping 1 cup raisins
    50g/2oz/scant ½cup dried cranberries
    2 clementines, zest and juice (about 60ml/2floz/¼cup)
    1tsp vanilla extract
    ½tsp almond extract
    2tbsp honey

    For the Pastry:
    90g/3¼oz/generous ¾stick butter, cubed
    90g/6½tbsp vegetable shortening, cubed (or the same amount of butter again, if you prefer)
    360g/12⅔oz/2¾cups plain/all-purpose flour
    2 clementines, zest and juice (about 60ml/2floz/¼cup)
    Pinch of salt
    Icing/confectioners’ sugar, to decorate

    Sterilized jars or tin for mincemeat storage
    Shallow cup muffin tins
    A fluted biscuit cutter (about 1cm/⅜in larger in diameter than the top of your muffin cups)
    A star shaped biscuit cutter (the width of your muffin cups)

    M E T H O D 

    1. Make the mincemeat. Warm the port and brown sugar in a saucepan over a low heat. Swirl the pan until the sugar dissolves. Add the spices, grated apple and dried fruit along with the zest and juice of the clementines. Cook for around 20 minutes on a medium heat, stirring every so often to ensure the mixture isn't sticking. Once the liquid has reduced, turn off the heat and add the vanilla and almond extracts and the honey. Beat well with a wooden spoon. Transfer the mixture to jars (which make a lovely gift) or an airtight tin. This will keep for good few months in a sterilized jar, but can also be used the same day (once cool).

    2. To make the pastry, toss the fats through the flour and put the whole lot in the freezer for 20 minutes. While it is chilling, place the clementine zest and juice into a glass with a pinch of salt, and chill in the fridge. Remove the flour mix from the freezer and blitz in a food processor until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs (this can be done quickly by hand if you don’t have a processor). Slowly drizzle the chilled clementine juice into the processor, stopping when the pastry comes together (scoop out the zest and add this if it's stubbornly staying in the glass). If you need more liquid, add some chilled water. Tip the pastry out of the processor, squidge together into a ball, wrap in plastic wrap and chill for at least 1 hour.

    3. Preheat the oven to 190ºC/375ºF/Gas 5. Cut the pastry into quarters, storing it in the fridge until needed. Roll each piece of pastry out to the thickness of a pound coin/about ⅛in, between two sheets of greaseproof paper. Cut fluted circles and stars out of the pastry, bringing it back together and rolling out again to use it all. Push each pastry circle into the cups of a greased muffin tin, fill with a tablespoon of the mincemeat, and top with a pastry star. Don’t fill them right to the brim, as they’ll bubble up and spill over.

    4. Bake for 15 minutes, or until golden brown. Allow the tarts to cool in the tin, then push one edge (lightly – you don't want to break the pastry) and the tart should pop out. Place on a wire rack and, once cool, dust with icing sugar before serving.

    Recipe from 'The Little Library Cookbook' by Kate Young, photography by Lean Timms.