From the ‘Victorian Domestic Goddess’ – real meat heritage mince pies adapted by Illtud Llyr Dunsford

Illtud Dunsford low res credit Warren OrchardREAL HERITAGE MEAT MINCE PIES

Illtud Llyr Dunsford, producer of heritage charcuterie, will be on the chef dem stage at our Christmas Food & Drink Fair on Sunday 14 December. What will he be cooking? Here’s the full line-up  See what Illtud’s up to on twitter

A new system of domestic cookery

Here’s an adapted Victorian recipe from a work by Maria Eliza Rundell (1745-1828), now regarded as the original ‘Domestic Goddess’ predating the perennial favourite Isobella Beeton, by nearly a century.


Mince meat:

  • 450g beef sirloin, finely chopped/minced
  • 450g beef suet
  • 4 large apples, peeled, core removed, flesh chopped
  • 35kg currants
  • ½ small loaf of day old breadcrumbs
  • ½ tsp freshly grated nutmeg.
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon.
  • ½ tsp ground cloves.
  • ½ tsp ground ginger.
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 450g sugar
  • 2 lemons, zest and juice
  • 3 large oranges, juice only
  • Candied peel, diced
  • 250ml brandy
  • 250ml ruby port

Short crust pastry:

  • 225g flour, plus extra for dusting
  • 115g butter, cut into cubes (or 50/50 butter and lard)
  • Water, as necessary
  • 4-6 tsp milk
  • 1 tsp sugar


This recipe makes 8-10 mince pies.                                                                                                             Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas 6.

For the mincemeat:

Mix all of the mincemeat ingredients together by hand in a large bowl until well combined.

Transfer the mixture to a large saucepan and heat over a very low heat for 3-5 hours, stirring occasionally, or until it has reduced to a thick, dark paste.

Shortcrust pastry:

Meanwhile, for the shortcrust pastry, sift the flour into a large mixing bowl. Add the butter or butter and lard cubes, then rub them into the flour using your fingertips until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs.

Gradually add the water, a tablespoon at a time, stirring well until the mixture comes together as a stiff dough.

Filling the pies:

Turn out the pastry onto a lightly floured work surface and knead well until smooth and elastic.

Roll out the pastry onto a lightly floured work surface to a 1cm/½in thickness. Using an upturned bowl, cut eight discs from the pastry. Reserve the remaining pastry.

Place a coffee mug into the centre of each pastry disc and draw the sides of the pastry up against the mug, overlapping the edges, to form free-standing pastry cases.

Divide the mincemeat evenly among the pastry cases.

Lid the pies:

Roll out the remaining pastry onto a lightly floured work surface. Using the same mug as before, cut eight discs from the pastry to create four ‘lids’.

Place one pastry ‘lid’ on top of each pie, tucking the edges into the pastry case. Pinch the pastry together well to prevent the filling from leaking out during baking. Using a sharp knife, cut a cross into the top of each pastry lid to allow the steam to escape.

In a bowl, mix together the milk and sugar until the sugar has dissolved. Brush the top of each pie with this mixture.


Place the mince pies onto a baking tray. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes, or until the pastry is crisp and golden-brown.

Remove the mince pies from the oven and cool on a wire rack.

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