Mince Pies

Ballymaloe House Hotel Located in East Cork

'Many Christmas traditions mark the start of the festive season, at Ballymaloe House Hotel, it is the unmistakable scent of citrus peel slowly candying in late October. This might seem early to get into the mood for Christmas carols, but with the task of Christmas baking ahead it is the perfect opportunity to ease into the spirit of things.

Local whiskey is mixed with dried fruit in early November to make the first batch of Christmas puddings. Rich fruit cakes, mince pies, sherry trifle and of course the yule log all follow suit. Before we know it brandy is being creamed into butter and glasses of mulled wine are enjoyed by guests sitting by the fire in the drawing room.

For me, the perfect Christmas treat is a warm mince pie, served with a generous spoon of softly whipped cream. The recipe here is my all-time favourite and is used throughout the season at Ballymaloe House.'

JR Ryall

Head Pastry Chef at Ballymaloe House Hotel


To make 20 mince pies 

225g (1/2lb) cream pastry, puff pastry or flaky pastry

225g (1/2lb) sweet shortcrust pastry

1 jar mincemeat

1 egg


Roll out the sweet pastry to 3mm thick and cut it into rounds, 7.5cm (3in) in diameter, and line shallow bun tins with the discs.

Put a heaped teaspoon of mincemeat in the centre and brush the pastry edges with egg wash.

Roll the cream pastry to 3mm thick and cut into rounds, the same as you did for the shortcrust base, and cover a pie with each.

Prick the lid of each pie with a fork. They can be kept like this for a day or two in a fridge before baking.

Brush with beaten egg before putting it in the oven.

Bake for 20 minutes approx. in a moderately hot oven, 200°C/400°F/gas 6, until golden brown.

Serve mince pies warm with Irish whiskey cream.

To make the cream pastry:
  • 110g (4oz, 1/2 cup) flour
  • 110g (4oz, 1/2 cup) cold butter
  • 150ml (1/4 pint, 2/3 cup) cold cream

Sieve the flour into the bowl of an electric food mixer.

Cut the butter into small cubes and rub it into the flour using the paddle attachment until the mixture forms a coarse texture. Do not overmix – if you do, the mixture will form a shortbread-like ball.

Pour in the cold cream and mix until a smooth pastry forms.

Wrap the pastry in parchment paper and chill overnight.

(Tip: Always roll cream pastry straight from the fridge. If the pastry comes to room temperature it will be too soft to handle.)

Irish whiskey cream

1 tbsp Irish whiskey

1 tsp icing sugar, sieved

225ml (8fl oz) softly whipped cream

Fold the whiskey and sugar into the whipped cream.

To make the mincemeat: 

1 cooking apple

1 lemon

225g (1/2lb, 11/2 cups) raisins

110g (4oz, 3/4 cup) currants

110g (4oz, 3/4 cup) sultanas

60g (2oz, 1/3 cup) candied peel

450g (1lb, 2 cups) firmly packed moist brown sugar

225g (1/2lb, 2 cups) chopped beef suet

75ml (21/2fl oz, generous 1/4 cup) whiskey

1 tbsp orange marmalade

1. Put an apple in a hot oven to bake.

2. Grate the lemon rind finely without any white pith. Squeeze out the juice.

3. Mix in the other ingredients one by one, mixing thoroughly.

4. When the apple is cooked, peel and core it and mix the flesh in thoroughly with the fruit.

5. Put into jam jars and cover closely. Use as required.

Mincemeat will keep for a year, in a cool place. This recipe fills two 450g (1lb) jam jars, enough for approx. 40 pies made in shallow 6.5cm (21/2in) tins.

Come to savour culinary delights at Ballymaloe House Hotel.

Book Your Stay

Share this recipe: