A close friend of mine has been bugging me for the last 2 Christmases to make these wee pies, which I resented to an extent – what about all the other wonderful baking I supply her with on a regular basis? But it turns out she had a point. These are spectacular. My problem with shop-bought mince pies is the richness – there’s far too much thick, thick pastry and the mincemeat is too sweet for my tastes. I can eat one, with a cup of tea, at a push. These, though. These are dangerous. I’ll start with good intentions, but half an hour will pass and a tray will be reduced to a measly few. The trick is twofold – for one, the shop-bought mincemeat is diluted with a finely chopped apple. This not only makes it go further, but dampens the sweetness and improves the flavour.
First, preheat your oven to 180C/160C fan/Gas 4. Place a wee chunk of butter (about 25g) into a pan and place on a low heat just to melt.
Brush a bun (fairy cake) tin with the melted butter. Cut half your packet of filo pastry into squares that are big enough to completely cover each depression in your bun tin – I like to make them a bit bigger for spectacular effect.
For each bun, place a square of filo in the appropriate section of your tin. Brush this with a thin layer of your melted butter, and then place another piece of filo on top. Repeat until you’ve got 4 layers in every depression of the tin.
Make the crumble topping – weigh your flour into a mixing bowl, then weigh your butter on top. Chopping it up will make it easier to combine. Rub the flour and butter together until you’ve got something that resembles breadcrumbs. Then, mix in your sugar until combined.
Peel and chop up your apple into as wee bits as you can bear. Place these in a bowl with your jar of mincemeat and mix them together. Divide this mixture evenly between your 12 filo cases – each should have roughly a heaped dessert-spoon full.
Squeeze your crumble mixture into lumps using your hands – this is the secret to a good crumble. Lightly sprinkle your mix over your filled cases, preserving some lumps. These will crisp up in the oven.
Once all are adequately covered, bake in your preheated oven for 20-25 minutes, or until your filo has turned a lovely golden brown colour and your crumble mixture has taken some colour too. Leave to cool for at least 15 minutes before enjoying, or else you’ll end up with a scalded mouth.