If you happen to be British, then mince pies are a non-negotiable part of the holidays. As a nation we buy around 370 million of them every December, and goodness only knows how many we bake ourselves. If my family’s anything to go by, it’s a lot. Last year, my mum and I managed 250 mince pies for a church coffee morning, and I’d guestimate that my Aunty Christine and my mother-in-law Sheana were baking at a similar rate.
Little wonder, then, that to me mince pies feel integral to the holidays. I imagine Mary and Joseph sitting round the manger, offering a freshly baked plate of the Christmas pie to the visiting shepherds. In fact, this fanciful notion is not as far from the truth as you might guess. Mince pies have culinary roots that go back, deep into the mists of time. “Shrid pie” has evolved over thousands of years, from a pie made with spiced minced meat, to the dried fruit “mincemeat” that we know and love.