Christmas in the royal household may be a fancier affair than most, but there are some traditions that even the Windsor family can’t resist – including a buttery, crumbly mince pie.
Now resident royal pastry chefs Kathryn Cuthbertson and Victoria Scupham have shared their top tips for making festive bakes that are fit for kings, queens, princes and duchesses, so that we can replicate their successes at home.
The pair will create over 1200 mince pies for each of the festive receptions held at the palaces around Christmas time, so they’ve certainly had their fair share of practice. And in their blog post on the official royal.uk website, the duo say there are two key steps to making the delicacy: time, and temperature.
‘Give yourself plenty of time,’ advises Kathryn, adding that it’s ‘her number one tip to anyone making mince pies this Christmas.’
‘Pastry is not something that likes to be rushed,’ agrees Chef de Partie Victoria, who Kathryn hired six years ago to work alongside her. They also recommend ‘having cold hands’ when working with pastry, to help keep it at the right consistency.
Of course, it’s not just the pastry that needs perfecting – Victoria and Kathryn mix up their mincemeat, which contains citrus, sultanas, raisins, mixed peels, spices and grated russet apples, plus a blend of alcohol including brandy, port, rum and sherry, and allow it to soak in a Kilner jar for months in advance before assembling the final product. So they really weren’t joking about that whole taking your time thing.
And if there’s a guest visiting who’s not so keen on mince pies? The team in the palace kitchen will also produce treats like gingerbread biscuits, Sablés à la Confiture (the posh name for Jammy Dodgers), and chocolate roulade, which is cut up into slices and served to guests on silver platters.
Now, how do we go about getting an invite for festive afternoon tea?
Get the full royal household recipe for perfect mince pies here.