London’s best mince pies
What would Christmas be without the humble mince pie? Their arrival on supermarket shelves marks the start of the festive season (and the end to diets until next year!)
Once filled with actual meat – often lamb – rather than the dried fruit mix we know today, the mince pie was not always so humble, once a symbol of status.
Legend says that if you eat a mince pie on every day from Christmas to Twelfth Night (the evening of the 5th January) you will have happiness for the next 12 months. But why wait until Christmas day? With only a week to go, it’s prime mince pie eating time and I’ve scoured London for some of the best.
Konditor & Cook (£1.20)
The sign outside the shop read “London’s best mince pie”, so of course, I had to try for myself. While the melt-in-the-mouth short and buttery pastry is utterly delicious, the filling is a little lacking. A lighter mince meat, gently spiced with plenty of plump sultanas and bright with citrus flavour, I would have happily had more packed into the dinky pastry shells.
Gail’s Bakery (£1.50)
A delightfully fruity filling, if not a little light on spice and richness. The pastry is delicate and soft – so soft in fact that you must remove from the oven with care if heating, or it’s likely to crumble between your fingers! Granules of Demerara sugar sprinkled on the pastry lid give a satisfying crunch.
Bread Ahead (£2.50)
By far the dearest of the mince pies I tasted, but double the size and packed to the brim with a mince meat so dense it resembles Christmas cake in its consistency, which was no bad thing. It’s bold and rustic, and much less sweet than most commercial mince pies – I imagine this is how they would have looked and tasted in Victorian times, when they were first evolving from savoury to sweet. Probably not for everyone, but a stand-up bake.
Small but perfectly formed, with not too sweet, crumbly pastry, and well-filled with a robust mince meat studded with cranberries that has an exemplary balance of sweet and spice. Plus, you can feel extra good about indulging in these mini pies – 20p from the sale of every one goes to Save the Children’s Make the World Better with a Sweater campaign.
St. John Bread and Wine (£2.50)
Another pricey pie, but a must-try. While I have far from tried every mince pie in London, I would still confidently say that St John has taken the crown for the very best. A biscuit-like pastry shell encases a squidgy mix of dried fruits, apple, citrus peel and nuggets of nut for crunch, all boldly bathed in boozy brandy.