Royal Pastry chefs reveal how they make mince pies for The Royal Family and their guests
'Give yourself plenty of time,' says Royal Pastry chef Kathryn Cuthbertson — It's her number one tip to anyone making mince pies this Christmas.
'Pastry is not something that likes to be rushed,' agrees Chef de Partie, Victoria Scupham, who Kathryn hired six years ago to work alongside her. They also recommend 'having cold hands' when working with pastry, which will help keep it at the right consistency.
Together they now have over 17 years experience inside the Royal Kitchens and will create over 1200 mince pies for each of the festive receptions held at the Palaces around Christmas time. 'It's probably thousands each,' laughs Kathryn, when asked for the exact calculation, 'but as long as you are organised, it's doable.'
Royal Chefs also create different variations of the classic mince pie; one is slightly smaller than the traditional, with flaked almonds brushed with egg whites and icing sugar, 'to add a bit of texture,' says Kathryn. Another version is made with puff pastry.
Scroll to the bottom of this page for the Mince Pie recipe.
Everything from the mincemeat to the pastry is handmade by the small team in the kitchens at Buckingham Palace. The mincemeat is made months in advance and stored in the pantry.
For today's reception, one of many hosted during the season for charities and organisations close to members of The Royal Family, Kathryn and Victoria are also making gingerbread biscuits from scratch, decorated with white icing.
'You can even use them to hang on the Christmas tree,' says Victoria. 'The biscuits are sturdy enough to hold a ribbon and the best thing is they last a while – so you can make them in advance.'
Victoria is also busy making Sablés à la Confiture, better known to most as Jammy Dodgers, with homemade jam.
For chocolate lovers, there's also the roulade, cut up into slices and served to guests on silver platters.
All the recipes are included in Royal Collection Trust's book, Royal Teas: Seasonal Recipes from Buckingham Palace.
Festive Mince Pies
For the Mincemeat
zest and some juice of 1 unwaxed lemon
zest and some juice of 1 unwaxed orange
2 tablespoons brandy
1 tablespoon of port
1 tablespoon of rum
1 tablespoon of sherry
120g (1 cup) suet
160g (3/4 cup) golden sultanas
100g (1/2 cup) raisins
100g (1/2 cup) mixed peel
100g (1/2 cup) currants
1/2 teaspoon of ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
1.2 teaspoon ground cloves
160 (6oz) russet apples, peeled and grated
500g (1lb 2 oz) sweet pastry
Egg washed for sticking lids on the bases
Granulated sugar for the top of the mince pies before baking
Icing sugar for dusting
12 hole non-stick shallow baking tray /
mince pie tin 32 x 24 cm/ 12.5 x 9"
fluted or plain cutters
- Place all the dry ingredients into a large mixing bowl and stir. Then add all the liquid and grated apple and allow to soak for at least one week in a 1kg kilner jar sat in the fridge or pantry.
- Preheat the oven to 190° C (375° F, gas mark 5)
- Roll the sweet pastry into a sheet approximately 2 to 3 mm thick, place on a tray, and allow to rest in the fridge. Once rested, cut tops and bottoms for your mince pies using fluted or plain cutters (selecting sizes to fit your tin). Place the pie bases into the tin and prick them with a small knife or fork to prevent the pastry from rising during the baking.
- Spoon a teaspoon of the home-made mincemeat into the base and egg wash the edge of the pastry to enable the lids to stick. Place the mince pies in the fridge to rest for another 30 minutes, then add a pastry top to each, egg washing it and pricking a small hole in the top to allow the steam to escape. Sprinkle with granulated sugar.
- Place the baking tray on the middle shelf of the preheated oven and bake the pies for about 15 minutes, or until the pastry turns golden and the mincemeat starts to boil slightly. Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly before taking the pies out of their tin.
- Sprinkle the mince pies with icing sugar and serve immediately. To add a festive feel, the mince pie tops could be shaped with a star cutter or perhaps a holly-shaped cutter.