You will need two x 12-hole, non-stick bun tins, buttered; about 750g/1lb 10oz of mincemeat; and two crinkle-edged pastry cutters, one 9cm/3.5" and one 8cm/about 3" in diameter
For the shortcrust pastry
450g/ 1lb plain flour
280g/10 oz very cold unsalted butter, roughly cubed
1 level tbsp icing sugar
1 level tbsp caster sugar
Good pinch of fine sea salt
2 large free-range egg yolks
6 tbsp of ice cold water
For the pie assembly
A little milk and a little caster sugar
To make the pastry it is easiest to use a food processor. Just whizz the flour, icing sugar, sugar and salt together for a few seconds, then add the butter. Whizz for another few seconds until the mixture looks like coarse bread crumbs.
Whisk the egg yolk and water together and pour it into the flour mixture. Process again until the pastry has collected in a ball around the spindle. Take the pastry out, divide it roughly in half, then lightly press each lump into a fat, disc shape. Wrap each disc with clingfilm, and put in the fridge to rest for at least an hour.
Take the pastry out of the fridge, and bring it to just under room temperature. Roll one disc out thinly on a well-floured work surface. (The pastry should be no thicker than a chamois leather, but as there is so much butter in the pastry - which gives it a wonderful flavour, and short texture - you will need to work in a cool place or the pastry will disintegrate.) Cut out twelve larger, and twelve smaller, discs from the pastry, and use the larger ones to line the holes in the bun tin. Spoon in the mincemeat to rise just a fraction about the edge of the pastry. Brush the edges of the smaller discs with a little water then put them on top of the mincemeat to make lids.
Pinches the edges of the pastry together firmly. Make a little slash in the top of each pie, then put the bun tin in the fridge for at least 30 minutes to allow the pastry to chill down. Repeat the whole process with the other disc of pastry.
Preheat the oven to 190C. Brush the pies with a little milk, then dust them with castor sugar. Put the tins into the oven on a fairly high shelf, and bake the pies for about 25 minutes, until the tops are a glistening golden-brown.
The pies can be assembled ahead, frozen raw, and then cooked from frozen; or they can be made ahead, cooked, and stored in an air-tight tin for up to 3 days. In the latter instance, they are best warmed through in a low oven before being served.
This recipe can be found in The Really Helpful Cookbook by Ruth Watson
(Ebury Press, ISBN: 0-091-88538-8, 14.99)