It's all in the pastry
In the spirit of the global initiative in the fight against COVID, we have decided to lift the cellophane on our usually highly confidential process behind the GrantEd annual mince pie reviews.
Lifted straight from our Teams chat…
Time to get the 2020 Xmas mince pie thread started... post reviews, recommendations and recipes here! I'll start with a "to be avoided at all costs" Coles Finest Sloe Gin Fruit Mince Pies
The pastry is too light and dry, and not sweet enough (which is pretty strong criticism coming from me as I don't have a particularly sweet tooth). The filling is OK, but there isn't much of it. All in all, a disappointment. I'm putting money on the cheaper range from Coles being a much better investment.
Bene: I feel like I'm doing the heavy lifting for the rest of you on the mince pie front this year, so feel free to join in now that we are officially only a calendar month away from Christmas Eve. Today's pie: Woolworths Blood Orange & Fig Mince Pies
One of those often misguided "twists on a classic". And is so often the case with reviewing such twists, I'll start by saying "there's a reason they're a classic". These aren't all bad though: the citrus flavour gives it a zing that would make this a good mid-afternoon pick-me-up pie; the pastry has integrity and is about the right balance of sweet. The filling though is where things come unstuck. It's more jam than fruit mince, making it almost impossible to discern the individual components of the filling. The exception here was what I think may be sultanas, a disappointing replacement for the raisins and currants that I was expecting. Not the worst I've had, but I'm relieved there are still four more weeks of the search left.
Kirsten: I almost bought a packet of Phillipa's Mince Pies yesterday...until I saw the price (surprised face emoji)
(we did the math: $17.90 for six – that’s about $1.40ish per bite)
Bene: I'll bring all the leftovers to the Xmas party as, at this rate, I will have a fridge full of boxes with only 1 taken out of them.
Lyn: Is now a bad time to tell you I'm on a pie ban?
No! What did you to deserve that?
I have to say the Aldi ones are remarkably good this year. Also gin.
Bene: Thank you Jenny. I was going to do a shout out for some Bentleigh-based Aldi input as it's a bit out of my (self-imposed/too lazy to travel anymore) 5kms.
In the meantime back in Western Australian quarantine…
Jenny: As long as you cover it with brandy butter or cream - who really cares?
Yvette: Yum! Can't fault these. Except that they weren't joking about mini. I think there's a risk I may eat all of them in one sitting. (Don't worry - I am drinking herbal tea to counterbalance the gin.)
Bene: Is that a crumble topping Yvette Hollings? As a pastry lover, I find it a bit concerning that opportunities for shortcrust are being wasted.
Yvette: I'm happy with the crumble - it allows the hero ingredient of gin to shine through... most important. I guess it's an issue of priorities (winky emoji)
Kate: I am with Bene; crumble = crime against Christmas mince pies.
Kate: It is a bit like serving an open sandwich. Another crime.
Bene: Pies in ramekins with pastry on the top but not the bottoms and sides. (angry)
Yvette: Yeah, even I draw a line at that one. But I disagree about the crumble and open sandwich. Good thing I'm on the other side of the country.
Lyn: I bought all of these (I couldn't decide). Reviews to come...
Lyn: Ritchies home brand - as expected for a homebrand pie, ICKY!! (but I'll soldier through those with large quantities of coffee to wash them down)
Lyn: Balfours premium WINNER WINNER!! Look at the buttery pastry. Yummy creamy pastry and decent amount of filling.
Lyn: Yarrows rum infused. Meh. Pastry was a bit crumbly but the filling was delicious (tasted like a Christmas pudding should taste).
BALFOURS PREMIUM for the win! $6 on special at Ritchies this week!
Kirsten: Wait. Are you eating mince pies for breakfast Lyn?????
Lyn: Nah, it was all last night. Three pies for dinner!!!
But now you've mentioned it....
Bene: Tell us more Sabina! I have high hopes that these will be the trad mince pie I'm waiting for. My only fear is Mr Kipling might skimp on the butter to maintain their competitive price point.
Sabina: A tad too sweet a filling for my taste, but that didn't stop the package contents disappearing in <2 days...
Yvette: Thanks Lyn, now I have to track down some Balfours westside. Also, glad to see rum finally showing up this year - standing up to the tyranny of the artisanal sloe gin infused nonsense.
Sabina: I normally wouldn't buy these, but this thread was so inspiring...
Kate: My local bakery are my go-to. Three reasons. Firstly, they taste good. Secondly, they are a decent size (whoever started this tiny-sized pie business needs a good talking to). Thirdly, they are 20m from my home. (Like my writing style there, Kirsten 😜). They aren’t doing anything radical. Not caught up in desperate eastern seaboard nonsense of infusing with some on-trend dribble. Good pastry. Christmassy filling. The end.
Yvette: I had really hoped to be able to offer a unique WA flavour to this thread, but alas, when you're relying on home delivery, the choice is limited. So I have these:
Yvette: Meh. They're okay. Bonus points for the aesthetics of the star lid and the filling's pretty yum; but the pastry is that type that tends to stick to the roof of your mouth and cheeks and tongue, which is a bit annoying. But, I'll push on through and eat them all in good time I'm sure.
Kate: Yvette very impressed with your stoic commitment to emptying the box. Kudos.
Yvette: Yeah Kate I battle through the hard stuff. That's just me.
Yvette: I promise to hunt down a local delicacy for your entertainment when I am released from captivity too.
Bene: Yvette Coles is really misusing the word "finest" this year - if it's the same pastry as the sloe gin ones above, then yeah, crumbly, sticky, not buttery, dust.
Bene: Top tip: once you have finished your pies, remember the plastic packaging makes a fantastic paint tray for all your summer crafting activities.