Saturday, October 16, 2021


This week has been a bit of a blur - between a new cocktail book, a first post lockdown trip to the theatre, working, catching up with a couple of people, and making a batch of mincemeat I don't think I've got to bed before midnight since last Sunday. Please don't imagine the bags under my eyes at this point.

I didn't bother with Mincemeat last year and missed making it - but had enough left from 2019 for a lockdown Christmas and used it all. It's one thing I really think is worth making if you like it and the recipe I use, based on Fiona Cairns mincemeat from 'Seasonal Baking' has never let me down. My first attempt was an Elizabeth David recipe that made an industrial quantity, cost a fortune because of that, lasted for years (it was not appealing), and quietly gave the impression that it was fermenting in the fridge for a lot of that time.

The reason the David recipe had appealed, and part of the reason why I like the Fiona Cairns recipe so much, is that neither needs you to cook the apples first. It's a lot of chopping but when it's done it's done, and each time I've made it I've changed the recipe a little to suit myself. The original is fig and almond, and really good. This year's version is cherry, apricot, and hazelnut, with some added cocoa nibs, because actually, I don't really love figs and the whole point of making my own is that it can be what I want. 

I make quite a lot of this because I love mince pies, and it's no bad thing to have a couple of jars leftover for the beginning of the next mince pie season whilst the current year's batch is maturing. It definitely wants a month or two to mature so now is the perfect time to get mixing, and it's worth making your own because it certainly has less sugar than the stuff you buy, and as it tends to be a drier mix you don't end up with molten mincemeat glued to your baking tray. 

This makes an impressive quantity of mincemeat suitable for households that love mince pies, eat a lot of them, and are likely to give some jars away - half it if that's not you.

200g of nuts - I mostly use almonds or hazelnuts, but would consider walnuts. Toast them for 5 minutes, leave them to cool whilst assembling everything else, then blitz or chop them into small bits. 

500g of Bramley apples peeled, cored, and finely chopped.

300g of currents

400g of raisins

300g of dried fruit - figs, cherries, apricots, dates, cranberries - or a mix of these (or even something else if you prefer) chopped as appropriate.

200g mixed peel, chopped

200g of suet.

200g of demerara sugar

200g of dark muscovado sugar

The zest and juice of 2 oranges and 2 lemons.

3 teaspoons of mixed spice and 2 teaspoons of ground cinnamon. 

120ml of alcohol. Whisky, Rum, or Brandy are all good. If using whisky or rum I wouldn't mix them, but if I'm using brandy I'll normally do half and half with a liqueur. This year I've used amaretto and calvados. Frangelico, cherry brandy, apricot brandy, port, Madeira, or similar would all work. What you choose should depend on what fruit and nuts you've gone for, and to an extent what you have to hand.

Mix everything together in a large bowl and cover with cling film. Leave for 24 hours, mixing the whole lot up every so often to make sure everything is thoroughly distributed and that the flavours can really blend. Pot in sterilised jars and store somewhere cool and out of direct sunlight until needed. 


  1. We're on the path towards the Christmas season. The leaves are turning, my sweaters were dug out from the spare room yesterday, and now a mincemeat recipe. I'm the only one who enjoys it at my house so I buy pies for myself throughout the season, but thinking about the aroma from the kitchen is tempting me to try baking some.

  2. I love them enough to make quite a few of them for myself. Thanks to my mother I use a tray that makes really small pies (you can eat one whole without looking like a total pig) and particularly like the filling to pastry ratio that gives. The best thing about homemade is definitely the pastry.