Mince pies are a Christmas staple, and perfect gift adornments to show you care and to show off your cooking skills. They are also equally appropriate for your snazzy Christmas mulled wine party, or a treat for a cosy night in with your flatmates binge-watching every Home Alone film. I’ve got a recipe for completely home-made sweetcrust pastry and the mincemeat, as well as a cheat’s version! You can always mix and match too – make one part and use the shop-bought for the other.

Makes 16

Ingredients:

For the Pastry:

•125g plain flour

•75g butter

•62g caster sugar

•1 egg yolk

•1 tbsp water

•Optional – 1 tsp Christmas spice

For the Mincemeat:

•155g mixed fruit and peel (currants, raisins, sultanas, cranberries etc.) You can buy these altogether or separately, and you can get away with only using 2 different kinds

•20g chopped mixed peel (lemon and orange)

•25ml brandy, rum, or whiskey

•62g dark brown sugar

•1 small cooking apple, peeled and grated

•1 tsp lemon juice

•75g suet, shredded (you can buy vegetarian suet!) OR 75g grated butter, just freeze it for ten minutes first

•¼ tsp ground nutmeg

To top:

•1 egg, beaten

•Icing sugar

Method:

1) Soak the fruit in the alcohol. It’s best to do it overnight, but just for the length of time to make the recipe should give them enough flavour.

2) Sift the flour and cube the butter. Add in the butter until it looks like breadcrumbs, and then stir in the sugar, and Christmas spice if using.

3) Add the egg yolk and water, and mix into a stiff dough, and chill for 30 minutes.

4) On a lightly floured surface, roll the pastry to about 3mm thickness.

5) Use a 7cm diameter cutter to cut the bases, and line a cupcake tin, and a 6cm diameter cutter for the tops from the remaining pastry, and set aside.

6) Drain the brandy from the fruit, and set aside.

7) Mix together all the ingredients.

8) Add the brandy when everything else is well mixed.

9) Spoon 1 tsp of the mince-meat into each pastry tin. Any leftovers can be put into sterilised jars and will last in a cupboard for up to 6 months.

10) Brush the bases with a bit of the egg and place the

tops on, and squeeze the edges slightly to seal the pies. Glaze the tops with the egg and bake at 180C for 15 minutes. Dust with icing sugar and serve! You can reheat at 140C for 15 minutes if they – miraculously  don’t get eaten all in one go.

Cheat’s Options:

You can buy Sainsbury’s Desert Pastry Block (500g) for £1.55, or Jus Rol Sweet Shortcrust Pastry Sheet (320g) from Tesco at £1.75, or at Asda for £1.50, although it’s currently on offer for £1.00.

But you’ll need two packs of this one because the recipe needs 400g of dough. Once you’ve bought it just follow the cutting recommendations in the recipe and you’re good to go.

The mincemeat is probably the item you’re most likely to cheat on. Use Tesco Mincemeat (411g) for £0.95, or Sainsbury’s Mincemeat (411g) for £1.00, and just spoon in one teaspoon just like the recipe says!