Mince Pie Magic

I wasn’t going to get particularly excited about Christmas this year. It’s the same drawn-out buildup every year, the same overplayed Christmas songs, the same over-sentimentalisation of, well, everything. I say this every year, and every year I end up wearing tinsel singing Christmas songs at the top of my lungs¬†to anyone near me, and this year is, predictably, no different.

I’m not religious; Christmas day to me doesn’t hold any particular significance, but it’s the excitement, colour, sparkle, fun and festivity that overcomes all else in the buildup to the day that I can’t help but love. I gave in to the Christmas magic this week and committed two dangerously festive acts: I made mince pies and drank the ONLY flavoured coffee which is even remotely acceptable, a gingerbread latte. I’m not even a little bit sorry.

I don’t think it’s worth posting a recipe for mince pies; no further instructions are needed other than make pastry, fill, bake. The enjoying of the mince pies is a far more important process, as such¬†questions are posed as icing sugar or caster? Cream, ice cream or custard? Hot or cold?

The only thing I will say with absolute clarity is that there is NO excuse for buying shop-bought mince pies, they are so easy to make and taste so much better homemade. You don’t even have to like mince pies – put on some Christmas music, dance around your kitchen and enjoy the seasonal scent of festive baking, then take them into work or hand out to guests and spread the joy.

This blog is becoming more and more festive by the second – unintentionally (I told you, I can’t help but be consumed by Christmassiness) – keep an eye out for another post coming soon about the chocolate eclair Christmas tree I made with my sister last year…

Happy Christmas Countdown!


Pre-Christmas Custard Tart

So it has just hit me today that it’s ACTUALLY November. How did that happen? We’ve gone from fruit tarts and iced coffee to mince pies and gingerbread lattes in the blink of an eye. However, I am a strong believer that Christmas is strictly for Christmas time; nothing makes me angrier than a Christmas advert in August. The solution? It’s the perfect time for some christmassy-but-not-too-christmassy bakes!

There is nothing better than a homemade custard tart, and with its nutmeggy warmth this classic is perfect for the almost-Christmas period. I use two different recipes found from the almighty Google – The BBC Good Food recipe is great but uses shop-bought shortcrust (cheats). You can, of course, go down this route; it is a lot easier but just not the same… I have picked a random basic pastry recipe but any will do, just make sure you follow the steps in the main recipe and include nutmeg in the pastry, its worth it!


  • Make sure there is no air trapped under the pastry or you will end up with a custardy-bubbly mess.
  • You will have heard this before but keep the pastry as cold as possible at all times. Particularly challenging if you are a walking-talking hot water bottle like myself.
  • Try it hot but make sure you save some to have cold the next day – its delightfully different but equally as delicious each way!
  • It is a little pricey but make sure you use real vanilla pods – nothing else will taste anywhere near as good.



custard tart