The Ghost of Christmas Present’s Mince Pies (McCarter’s A Christmas Carol @Home)



1 lb sirloin steak, finely chopped

1 lb suet, grated

4 large apples, peeled, cored, and flesh chopped

3 lbs currants

Half a small loaf of day-old bread, grated

½ tsp freshly grated nutmeg, or to taste

¼ tsp ground cinnamon, or to taste

¼ tsp ground cloves, or to taste

¼ tsp ground ginger, or to taste

Salt, to taste

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

2 cups sugar

2 lemons, zest and juice

3 large oranges, juice only

Candied orange peel, diced (optional)

1 cup brandy

1 cup port


Hot water crust “standing” pastry—makes 3 hand-raised pies 

2 ½  cups of flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

½ cup + 2 tbsps water

3 tbsps unsalted butter

3 tbsps lard (or substitute vegetable shortening)

1 egg and 1tbsp of water for an egg wash (optional)


Hot water crust pasty can be prepared the night before so that the dough can rest overnight. (See below.)

In a large bowl, mix all of the mincemeat ingredients together using your hands, until well combined.

Transfer the mixture to saucepan and heat over a very low heat for 3-5 hours, stirring occasionally. It should reduce to a thick, dark paste.

Once mincemeat is prepared, preheat oven to 400°F

For hot water crust: First sift flour with salt into a large bowl, then make a well in the center of the mixture.

Heat water, butter, and lard/shortening in a small saucepan. Stir and bring to a boil. Poor hot mixture of water, butter, and lard/shortening into the flour well. Combine with large spoon into a gooey dough.

Turn out pastry dough onto a floured surface and knead the warm dough for 5+ minutes. Next, form pastry dough into a roll and cut into thirds. For each third, pull off a walnut sized ball to become the lid and form a patty with larger portion of dough.

Wrap the 3 patties with their lid dough balls in plastic wrap—such a wonderful modern invention!—and allow to rest for at least 4 hours or overnight.

Once the dough has rested and using a freshly floured surface, roll out the lids with a rolling pin so that they are less than a quarter inch thick and round in diameter. Flour the patties and then place a drinking glass with smooth sides (wrapped in plastic wrap) in the center of the dough patty and press down to flatten the dough to about a quarter of an inch thick under the glass. Then, using your hands, shape the dough up and around the glass by pulling and squeezing it up the sides of the glass. Try to achieve an evenness in the thickness of the dough. Remove the glass and then fill most of the formed dough cup/case with mincemeat mixture—leave a little room at the top for your lid to crimp to.

Whisk an egg up in a bowl with one tablespoon of water to be used as an egg wash. Brush egg wash on the exposed dough on the inside of the pastry cup. Also brush some egg wash on one side of the lid.

Place a dough lid on top of each cup—egg wash-side down—and tuck the edges of the lid into the cup and against the egg-washed edge. Pinch and seal the pastry together around the top of the cup. Use a sharp knife to cut a one-inch hole into the top of each pastry lid to allow the steam to escape during baking.

Brush the outside of the standing pies with the rest of the egg wash and place them on a piece of parchment paper on a baking tray. Bake in the over for 30 – 35 minutes or until pasty is golden brown.

Remove the mince pies from the oven and cool on a wire rack.

There is more than enough mincemeat to make a few batches of standing pies! Serve hot or cold.

What makes it special?

Mince pies are a traditional, signature bake in my rather large family of  2,020 siblings. Every year, as the holidays approach, we conduct our own version of The Great British Baking Show. Though my elder brother, 1797, typically excels in the more homely pursuits and often takes the Star Baker crown for cake week with his immense twelfth cake; and my younger sister, 1960, is queen of bread with her floury burger baps; I always top pastry week with my luscious mince pies.

For your A Christmas Carol signature bake, I challenge you to embrace the spirit of the seasons and bake 8 identical mince pies using my age-tested recipe. On your marks, get set, bake!


Recipe shared by Christmas Present of 1842…still with you in spirit!


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