To Make Lent Mince-Pies

Mincemeat pies are a medieval Christmas tradition. Typically, mincemeats are made up several months in advance to allow the flavors to merge. The ever-present alcohol and sugar served to pickle the meat, or in this case, eggs.

18th Century

Six eggs boiled hard and chopped fine, twelve pippins pared and chopped small, a pound of raisins of the sun stoned and chopped fine, a pound of currants washed, picked and rubbed clean, a large spoonful of sugar beat fine, an ounce of citron, an ounce of candied orange, both cut fine, a quarter of an ounce of mace and cloves and a little nutmeg beat fine; mix all together with a gill of brandy and a gill of sack; make your crust good, and bake it in a slack oven: when you make your pie, squeeze in the juice of a Seville orange.

Glasse, Hannah, “The Art of Cookery Made Plain and Simple”

21st Century

  • Pastry (homemade or store bought)
  • 4 large boiled eggs
  • 4 large Granny Smith apples
  • ½ lbs. raisins
  • ½ lbs. currants
  • 2 oz. candied citron
  • 2 oz. candied orange peel
  • 1 cup sugar
  • ½ tsp. mace
  • ½ tsp. nutmeg
  • ½ tsp. cloves
  • ½ to 1 cup Sherry
  • Juice of one orange
  1. Preheat the oven to 450°.
  2. Remove one piece of dough from refrigerator and let stand until soft.
  3. Lightly flour your work surface and roll out dough into a 12-inch circle. Then, wrap the dough around the rolling pin to transfer into a 9-inch pie pan. Unwrap the dough from the rolling pin into the pie pan, making sure the dough is form-fitted to the pan. Allow the dough to overhang the lip of the pan. Return pie pan with dough to the refrigerator until it is needed.
  4. Mince the eggs, peeled and cored apples, raisins, currants, candied citron and candied orange peel and place filling into a large bowl.
  5. To the filling, add the sugar, mace, nutmeg, cloves and sherry. Mix thoroughly with your hand or spoon.
  6. Retrieve the pie pan from the refrigerator. Fill the pie with the mixture.
  7. Roll out the second piece of pastry into a rectangle. Cut 3/4 inch to 1 inch strips along the length of the pastry to give you eight strips. Weave a lattice top for your pie as is shown in the photo. With a little flour and water, “glue” each strip edge to the bottom pastry at the plate’s rim. Trim any excess. Using a whipped egg yolk, gently glaze the top lattice using a pastry brush. This will lightly brown the top. If you do not wish to make a lattice, take your pastry and make a full top crust as you do for any fruit pie.
  8. Place a rimmed baking sheet on the middle rack of the oven. Place the pie in the middle of the sheet. Bake at 450° for 10 minutes, then at 350° for 35-45 minutes.
  9. Allow pie to rest 5-10 minutes before slicing.

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7 Responses to “To Make Lent Mince-Pies”

  1. December 13th, 2012

    pam williams says:

    Orange juice…Hannah adds it as an afterthought (as usual)…does it go into the mix with the sherry, or is it added over the top of the filling before the crust goes on?

    And…thanks thanks thanks to you guys for this wonderful blog. Is there a way to be sure it continues?

    • December 17th, 2012

      Historic Foodways says:

      Good catch! The orange juice should go over the mince meat filling right before you put on the top lattice crust. Thanks for the sharp eyes out there.
      Dennis Cotner

  2. December 15th, 2012

    Mark says:

    Looks like a great recipe, but just one question:

    Shouldn’t we be eating Advent mince-pies right before Christmas? Lent comes before Easter.

    • December 18th, 2012

      Historic Foodways says:

      You are correct about Advent and Lent. Mince pies have, by American tradition, been served during the winter months. However a mincemeat pie (with meat) would work for most anytime but Lent. We chose a mince pie without meat because most people have had mince pie without meat. Those that had meat in them ranged over time from venison to veal to beef and finally pork. Trust this helps.
      Dennis Cotner

  3. December 18th, 2012

    Helen Robison FitzGerald says:

    There are so many variations on pastry receipts (sweet, flakey, mealy, hot water, etc.) What would Hannah et. al. have used for a pie such as this? Would it change if meat were included? Is this always a sweet pie or would it have been savory on occasion?

    Can you provide in your recipes a selection and guide for which to use? I think in the Americas we are not generally familiar with the English hot water hard crust for raised pies.

    Many thanks and happy holidays!

    • December 21st, 2012

      Historic Foodways says:

      You are correct Helen, there are many pastry variations and we in Historic Foodways have been known to use most of them. The pastry crust that one uses really depends on the desire of flavor, size and the ingredients. For this pie we have suggested a generic store crust that you like. If you want a puff pastry that also works well for this. The addition of meat makes this very special, yet it is not something most Americans are used to any more.

      As for the hard crusts that incorporate hot water, this pie (as written) does not call for that kind. Rather the hard standing crusts are for fillings like casseroles and that are very large. We have made those and they are laborious yet look great. Maybe we’ll save that for another recipe. Thanks for the query, Merry Christmas!

      Dennis Cotner

  4. December 21st, 2012

    Christine Hansley says:

    Hi Historic Foodways Crew,

    Just dropping a note of thank you for all of your work in giving us great recipes and videos over the course of the past year. Please keep those recipes coming.

    I would like to wish the crew and the bloggers –

    A very Merry Christmas & Happy and Healthy New Year!


    P.S. Where’s Frank been? I hope all is well and he’s just been busy.

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