Baking is somewhat of an expensive hobby to keep up with. If it’s not the cost of ingredients making you wince at the checkout (seriously Korea, how much are you charging for butter/derivatives/substitutes), then it’s the time that it takes to make anything decent when you have a mounting pile of responsibilities. I am the Queen of Procrasti-baking – I got it down to a fine art inl my time at university – and this time it manifested in the Making of Mince Pies.
The bestthing, absolute b e s t t h i n g about winter for me is the fact that Mince Pies are finally back on the shelves. Every year – well, almost every year – I purchase a box as soon as they arrive in stores. And then I proceed to probably eat my weight in them over the course of their run as a Winter Staple. I fkin love mince pies. I’d go as far as to say they have made winter bearable for me.
Korea, however, does not share my love for mince pies. It’s one of the foods that hasn’t quite made it over yet, although the range of foreign foods is constantly growing. You can’t buy mincemeat in jars like you can back in the UK, and pastry is a little expensive to make over here. It’s to be expected though, Korean desserts are different, and they definitely don’t rely on the ability to make a pie like we do in ol’ Blighty. You utter the word mincemeat and you’re proffered a wide selection of actual meat, because, well, it’s Korea.
But this year, I decided that 1) I actually have a bit of a disposable income, 2) HANNAH BOUGHT A GODDAMNED OVEN, and 3) I CAN MAKE MINCE PIES THIS YEAR.
So I made mince pies this year.
Start to finish.
Including the mincemeat.
I bought all the ingredients I needed for the mincemeat from Homeplus, apart from the apples which I got from 7/11 purely because I wasn’t shelling out for a box of 10+. The pastry ingredients were sourced at LotteMart, but you can also get them at Homeplus, and probably a few larger convenience stores.
I eyeballed basically all of the measurements, because I didn’t remember to get scales in Daiso and didn’t really want to pay the slightly obscene price for the ones offered in Homeplus.
The bowls to mix and the canisters/jars were bought at daiso. The measuring cup was a Homeplus purchase (though since Flying Tiger is in Korea, if you want good, cheap baking stuff, go there!!).
~150g dried cranberries (substitute for dried currants – I started with around 110g but added some later as I felt there weren’t enough)
~175g butter (substitute for suet – couldn’t find suet for the life of me, I read in a different recipe that (I now can’t locate) butter or lard would work as a substitute because the fat is what acts as the preservative for the mincemeat.)
~225g soft dark brown sugar
1 tsp nutmeg (adjust to taste)
1 tsp cinnamon (adjust to taste, I used waaaay more than a teaspoon because I didn’t realise I opened the wrong lid part. Ahah at me.)
Grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
Juice of 2 small oranges (or 1 large)
1 large apple, cored and finely chopped, peel still on (substitute for cooking apples, can add more if needed/wanted)
4 tbsp of brandy (or a liberal amount)
It’s a good idea to mix the body of the mincemeat before you plan to make your mince pies. This allows for all the fruits to soak in the flavour. It took me about 2 days to make the mincemeat because I left the ingredients sans brandy to sit for roughly 24 hours (as per The Spruce recipe), and then I made sure that after the brandy had been added and cooked off there were at least double digits of hours to let it sit before it would be filling mince pies.
In a large, roomy baking bowl (Daiso has large mixing bowls for under 5000W), combine all of the ingredients but the brandy. The order I went was raisins, cranberries, apples, cinnamon and nutmeg, sugar, zest & fruit juice, butter. Stir well to make sure that everything is evenly distributed. Cover with a clean tea towel and leave overnight for the flavours to blend together.
Next day, or after you think sufficient time has passed:
If you have an oven: heat the oven to 230 F/110 C/¼ gas. Remove the tea towel and cover the bowl with foil and place in the warmed oven for 2½ hours.
If you don’t have an oven either: transfer your mixer to a large, roomy pan, or balance your bowl above pan with water in it (bain-marie).
You are basically looking for the fat to melt. At the point of ‘cooking’ you can also add the brandy so that you can cook some, or all, of the alcohol off. (I chose to do this.)
Stir the mixture well and leave to cool, stirring from time to time. The stirring is super important as it helps to distribute the fruits evenly as the mixture cools.
If you haven’t added the brandy yet, add the brandy now and stir again.
You can now fill your jars with the cold mincemeat. It’s probably best to cover with a wax disc and a lid – the canisters I got have the clasp fastening lids that you see sometimes on jam jars. It’s also a good idea to make sure that your canisters or jars are thoroughly clean and dry before filling with your mincemeat.
The mincemeat will keep up to one year in a cool, dark place. This recipe was also apparently supposed to yield around 3 500g jars of mincemeat, but it just filled an 800ml jar and about 1/3 of a second 570ml jar from Daiso… sooo.
I prefer to roll pastry on greaseproof paper or baking parchment but we had none
these were all sourced from LotteMart except the eggs; be warned, butter is expensive, I couldn’t find ‘caster sugar’ so I went with the closest alternative. The eggs I got from 7/11.
375g plain flour
260g unsalted butter, preferably softened (soft butter makes everything SO MUCH EASIER)
combine the flour and the butter until you get to a crumb consistency
add the sugar and egg, and mix together
on a lightly floured surface, tip the pastry out and fold until it comes together. Be careful not to overmix
wrap the pastry and leave to sit in the fridge for at least 10 minutes.
building your mince pies:
If you are like me, and don’t have a muffin or cake tin, and the potential for one even fitting in your borrowed convection oven is really very slim, then you can go one of three ways with building your mince pies.
Traditional pie way: using cupcake cases from Daiso, use a cookie cutter or closest alternative to make the base and lid of your pies. Line the cupcake case with the base, fill, then affix the top. Make sure that you wet the edges with water or egg to act as glue or your lids will just pop off.
Mandu/pasty it: the traditional pie method is slightly arduous, so we tried a ‘will it mandu’ approach. Yes they do. Basically cut a circular disc with your cookie cutter (or alternative) add a small amount of mincemeat to an area like your filling a pasty, and then fold over. Make sure that you seal the ends with water or egg to stick.
Ravioli it: the third method I tried was a bit like ravioli making. Two discs, mincemeat sits on once, the other is the top. least time consuming, but uses more pastry than the mandu method. Not as aesthetically pleasing as the pie method.
Then stick them in the oven until they’re cooked. Depending on your oven, it can take anywhere from 12-20 minutes. But it’s worth it.
When they’re done, dust with icing sugar and scoff the lot.
I hope this is somewhat helpful if you’re missing mince pies, are in South Korea (or somewhere that doesn’t sell them) and have access to an oven.
Let me know how it goes if you try this recipe out too! Also don’t forget to follow me on instagramto see what I get up to day to day in Korea first. 🙂 Have a great holiday season!