Making mince pies and mulled wine

Cook up a winter storm with these Christmas recipes

Some mince pie recipes will tell you to leave your filling to sit for 24 hours before you really get stuck into it. Some have the audacity to suggest leaving it for even longer (up to a fortnight). This is not one of those recipes. Nobody has that kind of time. Embrace the chaos and get your mince pies made within hours of buying your ingredients – not only because your article deadline is looming, but because instant gratification is the best kind of medicine for cold winter nights.

There are two elements to mince pies – the filling and the pastry. Both can actually be bought pre-made if you’re keen on skipping the chopping and mixing stages and getting straight to rolling and baking, but if you’re working from scratch, here’s what you’ll need:


  • 350g of flour
  • 50g of caster sugar
  • 150g of butter
  • Two eggs


  • 300g of shredded suet; either animal or vegetable. Not as scary as it sounds. Alternatively, Mary Berry says she just uses butter.
  • 500g of dried fruit; any combination of raisins, currants, cranberries or sultanas
  • 85g of chopped mixed peel
  • One lemon
  • One large orange
  • One Bramley apple
  • Finely chopped almonds
  • 250g Brown sugar
  • Six tablespoons of brandy
  • Three teaspoons of nutmeg

For the filling, most of the action will happen on your chopping board and in your mixing bowl. Start off by cutting your orange and lemon into halves and squeezing their juice into your bowl, then grate and add their peel. Chop your Bramley apple finely and add it alongside your dried fruit, chopped mixed peel, shredded suet (or butter), chopped almonds, nutmeg and brown sugar. With each ingredient that you add, give your mixture a stir – you want all the flavours to combine.

At this point, all your ingredients for the filling should be added to the mixing bowl except for the brandy. Put the mixture into a pot over medium heat and leave it to simmer for around ten minutes.

While your mixture is simmering, you can get started on your pastry. Sift the flour into a bowl and add the butter and sugar, working the ingredients together with your hands until they look like breadcrumbs. Crack in your eggs and mix it all together, adding a few tablespoons of water as needed. Pull the pastry together into a ball, wrap it in cling film, and put it in the fridge for ten minutes. Meanwhile, take your filling off the heat and leave it to cool.

When you take the pastry out of the fridge, roll it out on a table or counter with a light sprinkling of flour. Use a cutter (or indeed, if you’re like me and your supplies are limited, the top of a glass) to cut the pastry into circles. For each pie, you’ll need two circles of pastry – one for its base and sides and another for the top. Grease a muffin tray and add a circle of pastry for the base of each pie, shaping it to sit into the tray. 

After your filling has cooled, now’s the time to add the brandy. Pour it in and give your mixture a final stir. Spoon your filling into your muffin tray and add another circle of pastry to the top of each pie, giving the edges a pinch to stick them down on the pastry that’s already in the tin forming your pies’ base and sides. If you’re feeling fancy, crack an egg, beat it, and brush some over the top of each pie. Bake the pies in the oven for around 20 minutes minutes at 180 degrees Celsius in a preheated oven.

You can store any leftover pastry or filling – which you probably will have – in the freezer and use at another time.

Under most circumstances, I opt for white wine. However, there’s two points in the year I’ll favour red and both involve throwing copious amounts of fruit into wine, and adding ice in summer (sangria) or spices in winter (mulled wine). 

Like mince pie filling, mulled wine can be approached with a throw-it-all-in-the-pot-and-hope-for-the-best mindset. You’ll need:

  • Red wine
  • One orange
  • One lemon
  • One lime
  • Caster sugar; you could also use honey or maple syrup
  • Cinnamon stick
  • Grated nutmeg
  • Star anise

Juice your orange, lemon and lime into a pot and pour in the red wine. Add your sugar and spices and simmer the mixture at a low heat without letting it boil. Try it as you go and add more juice, sugar or spices to your own taste. The longer you leave it, the more time the flavours will have to infuse, but five to ten minutes will do the trick.

Serve your mince pies with some whipped cream and pour your mulled wine into your favourite mug. And if you finish the recipes with your kitchen in a mess and pastry that would see you laughed off the set of Bake Off, take solace in knowing that you’re not alone.

Lauren Boland

Lauren Boland was the Editor of the 67th volume of Trinity News. She is an English Literature and Sociology graduate and previously served as Deputy Editor, News Editor and Assistant News Editor.