Thursday, 24 December 2009

Christmas Desserts – Mincemeat Tart

Did you know that eating mince pies was made illegal in 1657 and according to the Law Society the law has never been repealed? They were outlawed towards the end of Oliver Cromwell’s rule as Lord Protector, when his puritan council abolished Christmas.

Lawful or not, mince pies have been around since medieval times and have been associated with Christmas since the 16th century or earlier. The original mince pie was a large oblong or oval pastry containing chopped meats and spices such as ginger. Dried fruit and other sweet ingredients were added to the filling for variety and also because they helped to preserve the meat without having to salt or smoke it. The initial mince pies were large rather than bite size. It is sometimes said that the large pies were cooked in an oblong dish and that the top often used to cave in. As a result the mince pie looked a little like a crib, in keeping with the Christian nativity story.

Over time the amount of meat in mincemeat was gradually reduced until it became the fruit only substance we know today. In addition, the pies became smaller. Apparently they were sometimes called "wayfarers' pies" because they were given to visitors over the Christmas period.

Mincemeat Tart

175 g/6 oz Shortcrust Pastry
1 medium cooking apple, peeled, cored and grated
175 g/6 oz mincemeat
150 ml double cream
25 g/1 oz almonds, chopped and toasted

Roll out the pastry and use to line an 18 cm/7 in flan ring. Prick all over with a fork. Stir the apple into the mincemeat and spread over the base. Bake in a preheated oven at 200°C/400°F/gas mark 6 for 15 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 160°C/325°F/gas mark 3 and bake for a further 10 minutes. Leave to cool. Whip the cream until stiff, then spread over the top of the flan, sprinkle with the almonds and serve at once.


1 comment:

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