There’s so much choice out there when it comes to festive mince pies. Nathalie Gomez de Vera of the Brighton & Hove Food and Drink Festival takes the plunge and samples some of the best to be found in the city’s retailers.
The humble mince pie has a long and noble history going back at least as far as the Middle Ages. As the name suggests, mince pies were originally made with meat – usually lamb – with the dried fruit mix only becoming the norm in very recent times. Whilst we expect our mince pies to be round, in their earliest forms they were oval shaped to represent Jesus’ manger.
Today the supermarkets and bakers of Britain go all-out to create the tastiest, most luxurious and sometimes off-piste pies. Below are a round up of some of the choice to be found in Sussex this Christmas.
Real Patisserie 5/5
These daily baked mince pies are simply wonderful. A shortcrust pastry base and a feathery light melt-in-the-mouth topping contrasted with mincemeat that oozed plump currants, raisins and citrus fruits. Viennese mince pies, £1 each, from Real Patisserie, 25 Western Road, Brighton.
Infinity Bakery 4/5
Deliciously thick yet light pastry with a deep filled, mouth-wateringly moist mincemeat filling, packed with citrus flavours and large chunks of fruit and nuts. The perfect traditional mince pie. Vegan mince pies, £1 each or £3.55 for four, from Infinity Bakery, 25 North Road, Brighton.
Crumbly pastry with an incredibly sweet mincemeat filling. No overpowering brandy taste so perfect for the whole family. I found them a bit too sickly sweet for my tastebuds, but my teenagers thought they were the best. ‘Taste the Difference’ mince pies with brandy, £1.50 for six, from Sainsburys, 27 New England Street, Brighton.
The Authentic Bread Co. 3/5
Solid shortcrust pastry with bite and a dark, rich mincemeat that was pleasingly packed with nuts and fruits including Herefordshire apples, however they were spoilt by a lingering oily aftertaste. Organic and gluten free luxury mince pies, £4.09 for four, from Infinity Foods, 25 North Road, Brighton.
A rich pastry base filled with a shallow layer of discernible brandy-flavoured mincemeat all topped off with almonds and frangipane. This is definitely one for you if you are not a huge mince pie fan as the frangipane is the dominating flavour. ‘Exquisite Mince Pies’, £2.99 for six, from Aldi, 1 London Road, Brighton.
The immediate aroma of spices from the darkly spiced shortcrust pastry base is followed through in the shallow layer of dense mincemeat. The zesty lemon works well and the crumble topping makes for a more unusual take on the traditional mince pie. Heston mince pies, £3 for four, from Waitrose, 130 Western Road, Brighton.