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Best of three: Mince pies

A mince pie is a mince pie. Right? Well not quite. How do these random trio from local cake shops stack up?

Published on January 14th 2010.

Best of three: Mince pies

HAVE you got the mince pies in yet?

Nothing puts you in the mood for Christmas more than having a warm mince pie pressed into your hand on a cold day. Unless, of course, you don't like them.

Ah yes, the heady mix of alcohol mixed with raisins, currants, cherries, apricot, candied peel, cinnamon and nutmeg, bound up in a crumby suet crust, all evoke instant festive feelings like little else.

We're not saying that people will judge you on the quality of the humble pie that you find yourself handing around the office at lunchtime, or offering to people who suddenly turn up and plonk themselves on your sofa with the plonk, but, hey, they might.

Like sofas, mince pies come in standard, luxury and deep fill, and depending on whether you want to see the back of your guests or not, here's three we got stuck into today, with a cup of tea, served at room temperature and then zapped in the microwave for 20 seconds.

Sayers (40p; four for £1.20)

Christmas wouldn't be the same without a Sayers mince pie somewhere along the way, and this year it nearly all went horribly wrong for Liverpool's best known confectioners. But several of the shops still survive, baking on the premises, even though the stuff comes from Bolton.

The pastry: Served with a scattering of frosty icing sugar or not, on top, this had a light and crumbly texture which wasn't sweet and made a good first bite. A nice home made look to it and with a just baked feel.

The filling: Very sweet, not a vast variety or amount of fruit, or spice, amid the syrupy liquid holding the mincemeat together, which tasted of nothing more discernible than sugar, and no booze that we could detect.

Verdict: Mustn't crumble. 5/10

Greggs (40p)

Greggs (branches everywhere), also do a deep fill version, this is the bogstandard one.

The pastry: The crispest and driest of the three, a bit hard and thick, made better by a good shake of icing sugar on top and quite sweet. It was much better warmed up, but then, aren't we all.

The filling: Not bad at all. Plenty of different varieties of fruit and candied peel packed into the mincemeat which had a very subtle spice to it and a hint of something approaching alcohol.

Verdict: Better pastry and it would have been the winner. Greggs, meet Sayers. Sayers, meet Greggs. 6/10



Satterthwaites mince pies (55p; six for £2.75)

Satterthwaites is a not-inexpensive Sefton based confectioners established in 1910 with a bakery in Crosby and six shops in the area as well as Formby and Netherton.

Satterthwaites Mince PiesSatterthwaites Mince PiesThe pastry: Very crumbly. So much so that when the whole lot tumbled over seconds after this picture was taken, a bit of a mess was made. Well quite a mess actually. Nevertheless, it's very melt-in-the-mouth and made with all butter, say the bakers, with a liberal sprinkling of caster sugar.

The filling: Packed with fruits and spice, this was both sweet and tangy by turns and had that intangible Christmas flavour to it. Pricey and on the smaller size with no foil to hold it, you might think it's not good value, but if you are only going to have one mince pie this year, you might as well have a good one.

Makes mincemeat out of its rivals. 8/10

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