The origins of the mince pie are traceable back to the 13th century, when returning European crusaders brought with them Middle Eastern recipes containing meats, fruits and spices.
The early mince pie was often known as the mutton pie, shrid pie and even a Christmas pie. Its ingredients were generally a mixture of minced meat, suet, fruits and spices such as cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg. Our modern mince pie has not only shrunk in terms of ingredients, but also in size. The original mince pie was usually rectangular and much larger than today’s small round affairs.
If you want to create a more traditional mince pie this December then why not give this historically inspired recipe a go?
Preparation time: 45 minutes
Cooking time: 1 hour and 45 minutes
650g minced mutton
100g beef suet
0.5tsp ground cloves
1tsp ground mace
0.5tsp ground black pepper
0.5 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp. cinnamon
Pinch of saffron
50g stoned prunes-chopped
50g dried chopped dates
50 ml dark rum
450g plain flour
1tbsp each of butter, sugar and rosewater, melted together.
Pre-heat the oven to 220C/425F/G7.
Mix the minced mutton with all the other filling ingredients. This is a job to get clean hands in as you want to ensure that everything is well combined
To make the pastry, In a large saucepan, melt the lard in the water and milk and bring to the boil.
Take off the heat and add the flour and salt and beat to a soft dough. Knead on a floured surface until smooth.
Set aside a quarter of the pastry, wrap this portion in foil to keep it warm.
Mould the large piece of pastry into a 20cm spring form tin to make the base and sides. (can also be made in loaf tins)
Fill the tin with the filling; packing it down well,
Roll out the remaining pastry for the lid, moisten the sides with water and press the lid firmly in place and crimp to make a tight seal.
Trim the edges and use the surplus to decorate the top. Cut a hole in the middle of the lid.
Bake in the centre of the pre-heated oven for 15 minutes, and then reduce the temperature to 180C/350F/G4 for a further 75 minutes.
Remove the sides of the tin, brush the whole pie with the glaze and return to the oven for a further 15 minutes.
Food has always been of great importance to Seren and despite her being renowned for her historical recipe recreations, her culinary skills were not honed, in the kitchens of top restaurants, but in the home kitchen from the age of being able to hold a wooden spoon.
When Seren was born her mother was taken ill and so she spent her early years being cared for by her grandmother, Minnie. This was to prove instrumental in the development of Seren’s love of cooking, for her grandmother was an accomplished cook, who’s kitchen was always awash with terrine’s, home-made pastry and traditional puddings. Minnie’s love of good food and her zest for life meant Seren’s childhood was filled with days of hedgerow picking, baking, traditional preserving and cooking recipes from the depths of a family copy of, Mrs. Beeton. She learned from an early age how to make Victorian puddings alongside elaborate noble pies and perhaps this explains her love of pastry making and the reason she won an accolade from The Great British Pie Awards this year.
Today Seren has great skill in bringing historical food to life and making it accessible and understandable to the modern cook and diner. Her enthusiasm and love of historical food and British cooking is evident in her presentations and she loves to revive forgotten recipes. She recently took part in ITV1’s Country House Sunday and has given live cookery demonstrations across the country at food festivals, historical houses and castles.
Trained as a herbalist and nutritionist, she has a deep understanding of improving health through food. Her interest in historic remedies and herbal folklore eventually extended to researching British food history, and reignited her early passion for cooking. Fifteen years on and Seren has amassed extensive knowledge and is now renowned for her historical food recreations and interpretations.
Seren’s interest in food history does not just extend to old recipes and cooking techniques, but to ingredients and manufacturers. From the age of fourteen Seren has collected food and drink packaging from early Victorian to the 1960’s. Her collection is now extensive and provides a wonderful snapshot in time that accompanies her vast knowledge of the development of British food and drink companies throughout history. She also has a huge collection of antique kitchenalia and moulds which she uses to replicate historical recipes and portray past eras.
Her training in herbalism and nutrition has not been wasted for despite her merits as a food historian and period cook she also delights in creating British Classic dishes for those with food allergies and intolerances (such as gluten and dairy intolerant). Her botanical knowledge has made her a keen wild food educator and forager that lends unusual as well as historical twists to all her cooking. There are also many points at which food and medicine intertwine throughout history and Seren is able to portray these developments and has also undertaken a lot of research into the British spice trade.
To Seren historical food is not a job, but a way of life.
Visit Seren's blog: Serenity Kitchen