This Christmas season I decided to sample as many different fruit mince pies from as many different sources as possible, a mission I undertook with relish as I love mince pies. This review is probably a little inaccurate now as I am writing it off the top of my head. I have lost my dearest Small Purple Notebook, in which was contained the List (an inexhaustive inventory of things to do as well as numerous other bits and bobs for treasuring) and would have been used to record my impressions of mince pies from various origins. But anyway, here we go.
● Mr. Kipling’s — I reckon that out of all the supermarket-stocked brands, Mr. Kipling’s is the best. The packet says that they are “exceedingly good” and I tend to agree. The crust is very buttery and quite crumbly and not too thick or cakey. The filling is rich and has good flavour. They are “deep dish” and so don’t skimp on the filling. In the past few weeks I have kept coming back to Mr. Kipling’s as they are really quality.
● Balfour’s — A friend warned me off Balfour’s mince pies, saying “you’d think with their expertise in meat pie making they might be able to pull off a half-decent one, but no, the pastry was tough and flavourless, and the mincemeat tasted like chemicals”. With this in mind, I expected the worst. But they actually weren’t half bad. True, the pastry wasn’t exactly flavoursome, but it was inoffensive, and the filling also; certainly not “chemically” in flavour. I think Balfour’s contribution is, however, rather forgettable, and with Mr. Kipling’s mince pies available at a similar price (if not, a little more expensive) it’s worth forgoing the Balfour’s option for something more rewarding.
● Swiss Glory — Funnily enough, I accidentally typed “Swiss Gory” just now which actually an apt name for the awful mince pies this deluxe chocolate store has to offer. I was going past the Swiss Glory shop on my way to the Central Markets when I was caught by their sign which announced that they made the best fruit mince pies in town. Of course I had to try, but I was sorely disappointed. The filling was bland and had the texture and appearance of cold meat pie (think greyish and congealed). The crust was too thick and bready. I wondered afterwards if a customer had quietly informed them of the complete FAIL of their mince pies because the next time I went past, the sign was gone.
● Goodwood Bakery — At $2.50 a pop, these mince pies are pricey but delicious. They have a definitely home-baked flavour about them. The filling is yummy albeit a bit scarce and the pastry is great. The top crust has an almost biscuity texture and is quite crunchy, something which I’m not sure would appeal to everybody but it certainly appeals to me. Also, the lady in the bakery gave me a decorative piece of holly, which is a bonus. It’s currently in the fruit bowl, with the garlic.
● Walker’s — My lovely boy bought a box of these treats for my birthday. I don’t know how much they cost but I believe they are quite expensive. The first one I tried I had it heated up in the oven. Warm, they are rich and almost savoury with a buttery, crumbly pastry crust. When cold, the filling has a distinct bite of citrus flavour which is unique and certainly delicious. Walker’s is the only mince pie I have tried warm, next Christmas season I will try more kinds warm.
● Baker’s Delight — I am a huge Baker’s Delight fan, even though I secretly feel slightly guilty for supporting a franchise instead of a small independently owned business. They just bake good bread, okay? I used to buy a fruit danish on most days, nowadays I am not nearly as self-indulgent. I have only had one Baker’s Delight mince pie thus far into the season, and I actually can’t really recall the details, except that I enjoyed it. But it’s Baker’s Delight, so it can’t be bad, right?
● The ones from the Foodland/IGA on Goodwood Road — I can’t remember what the brand was, but they were cheap and nasty. Truth be told I wasn’t actually game to try one. When removed from their plastic packaging and then from their foil patty pans, the bottom crust revealed itself to be actually moist and slimy to the touch! Ew! On the night I acquired these little beasts we had a party and I offered them to everyone just to get them off my hands. The next morning, out of the six there was just one left in the fridge and I still didn’t eat it.
Hopefully this review will be updated as I discover yet more mince pie varieties. I am even toying with the idea of finding a recipe and making some pies from scratch. There is something about Christmas food that really appeals to me. I love the strong flavours of mince pie, pudding and Christmas cake. Sadly, my enthusiasm is not echoed in many others – most of my friends were quick to express their disgust at the idea of a mince pie review! Well, I’m the real winner here.