Mince Pies (Part 1)

Ok it is finally December so I feel that it is time for one of my favourite foods, mince pies. I’ve always loved mince pies, as a kid I used to love them when they were hot from the oven and two days later when they were all sticky and chewy! I’ve never been able to replicate them since.

This year as I’ve spent the year trying and rating beers so I thought I’d perform a little evaluation of the mince pies out there for this season.

The Process

Rather then the usual 12 dimensions I think about the beers I came up with a smaller set and so updated my tasting wheel:

  1. Sweet
    The ‘sweet’ spot here is a 5. Not enough and it will score low to much sweetness and it goes above 5.

  2. Spicy
    Just like sweetness I’m looking for a good balance here and so a score of 5 is optimal. This was a tricky one to judge as the pies are mostly sweet. As with all things it was only after trying a few that we realised this so it was left in for completeness.

  3. Filling Quality
    A simple 0-10 rating of how good we felt the filling was. This included things like, was it too dry/wet,was the texture good, could you tell what it was made of or was it just a mushy paste?

  4. Crust to Filling Ratio
    Another critical aspect of a great mince pie is having the right amount of filling compared to the crust. Too much and it will be all mince meat too little and you probably have a very dry pie. Here 5 is the best marking with scores below 5 not having enough crust and above 5 too much crust.

  5. Crust Quality
    Rather than break down the crust into buttery goodness levels of rating we went for a single 0-10 of how good it was. Of course I was still looking for buttery, melty goodness of a pastry shell.

  6. Overall
    Just to round things off we have a 0-10 of how good it was.

It is probably worth noting that like good beers you can’t put a price on a good mince pie and so where I remember I’ll put the price of the pie. That said until we find a pie that is good, price is definitely a secondary consideration.

The Pies

Ok enough of the preliminaries let’s get to some pie tasting!
In this batch we have:

  • Costa Coffee
  • Mr. Kipling
  • Tesco Bakery Project
  • Tesco.

Costa Coffee

This starter was actually a spur of the moment purchase that somewhat triggered this adventure. The pie was one of the larger pies but mostly in the diameter as it was quite shallow. However, it wasn’t a great start as the filling is way to sweet and there is just too much of it compared to the amount of crust you get. Perhaps if you took out half the sugar and gave it a full lid rather than the star shape this might have been able to redeem itself.

Mr Kipling

Mr Kipling maybe known for making ‘Exceedingly good cakes’ but can he make a mince pie. Turns out the filling was pretty good. Problem is getting the pastry just right. Unfortunately this is where the tasting fell apart. Quite literally the crust was too crumbly and not in a good way. Being too dry the crust turned to little crumbs and we were left missing the buttery goodness that would have held everything together.

Tesco Bakery Project

Tesco has its own in-house bakery so hopes were high that they could make a good pastry. Given that is where we’ve been let down to date hopes were running high. Turns out our hopes were crushed… mostly under the weight of the pastry that was in this little pie. Here’s a cross section for you to see what I mean:
Overall we were left wanting more filling and more flavour all-round.

Tesco Boxed

A bonus extra tasting for today as I forgot to take a picture of this pie from Tesco. My notes say it was an own brand pre-made (i.e. Boxed) mince pie. Safe to say today’s results show that no-one has yet cracked a good pastry. Lets hope the next batch up the ante on crust quality.