Everyone loves a bit of baking – or eating baked goods – at Christmas, and the most festive bake of all is the mince pie. But with every single supermarket decked head to toe with them for only a pound or two, are homemade mince pies really worth slogging away in the kitchen for?
I decided to put this to the test. I bought Tesco’s cheapest and most expensive mince pies, as well as the ingredients to make my own. I roped in an unbiased, mince pie connoisseur (my mum) and we judged the three options based on how they looked, tasted, and fared in terms of price. So now I’m bringing you the mince pie lowdown, just in time for Christmas.
Tesco’s Finest mince pies – £2 for 6.
The first ones we tried were the Tesco’s Finest mince pies, and I must admit that these were certainly the prettiest of the three. They were actually really tasty too; the mincemeat was rich yet sweet and, as someone with a sweet tooth, I really liked the extremely buttery, almost shortbread-like pastry. However, though she loved the mincemeat, my mum deemed the pastry too sweet, particularly as they are also topped with granulated sugar.
Tesco’s standard mince pies – £1 for 6.
The standard mince pies didn’t go down quite as well. Though less than 17 pence per mince pie, we weren’t as impressed by the decoration and the taste wasn’t nearly as good. The mincemeat was quite bland and the pastry, though less sweet, tasted much more manufactured than the Tesco’s finest ones, and the texture wasn’t as crumbly. Clearly, it’s worth spending that extra pound…
My own mince pies – less than £0.85 for 6.
If you don’t feel like breaking the bank, clearly the best bet is to make your own! Ok, so I’m aware that my own mince pies aren’t winning any prizes for presentation – I’m only an amateur after all – but these were definitely the yummiest mince pies of the three. Homemade always wins, and if you feel as though you’ve already spent enough time in the kitchen, or that your baking skills aren’t up to scratch, then there’s a very easy way to cheat. I bought the mincemeat for £1 and shortcrust pastry (don’t judge, even Mary Berry buys her pastry) for £1.25, making this the cheapest option as I got 16 mince pies out of it, with pastry to spare.
If you’re a bit of a whiz in the kitchen, unlike me, then the ultimate kitchen whiz, Delia, has a great recipe according to my grandma (I stick to the lazy method). If you’re more like me, however, then this is all you need to do:
- Flour up your surface and rolling pin, and then get rolling your pastry until it’s just a few millimetres thick.
- Grab yourself a cupcake tin, grease it, and choose which cutters you want.
I did a mixture of circles, stars and hearts but you can use whichever ones you want.
- Cut out some circles to fit your cupcake tin and place them in, followed by a generous teaspoonful of mincemeat.
- Add your lids and lightly coat them with whisked egg to glaze them.
- Pop them in the oven, preheated at 180 degrees Celsius, for around 20 minutes or until the pastry is golden.
- Leave them to cool on a wire rack and then sprinkle with icing sugar (it hides a multitude of sins), and I also added some edible gold glitter.
So overall, the homemade ones were best; not only are they cheaper, but they taste much better too. So there you go, the perfect excuse to get baking for Christmas!