I mostly dislike Christmas. It’s never been high on my agenda – the fervour with which people celebrate the holiday severely disconcerts me. I partake in three main ways: I drink mulled beverages, I eat mince pieces, and I wear my ‘Nice Baubles’ jumper complete with actual bells (top tip: do not wear to the UL, because you will have to sit completely still for hours for fear of jingling). So, in the spirit of Christmas, this week I set out on a quest for the best mince pies in Cambridge. Fun fact: these are not filled with sweetened meat as I believed until far too recently.
The Marks and Spencer’s ones are available as a set of 6 for £1.50. The crust is simply adorable; a little cut-out star graces the top. The wrapper is a bit too firm, and when you pull at it, pastry crumbles (use a plate). But this is well worth it: the crust is firm and the mincemeat is sweet but not too sweet. The raisins in it are whole, and even as someone who despises dried fruit I can admit that they somehow work in the context of the mince pie.
The Sainsbury’s Deep Filled Mince Pies come as a box of 6 for £1. The crust comes cutely patterned with holly, but be warned, this is a ruse. The crust is actually soggy at best, it melts in your mouth in an unpleasant mushy way, and the filling is overly sweet and leaves a funky aftertaste in the back of your throat. Make sure you brush your teeth after these ones.
The Sainsbury’s bakery mince pies are infinitely simple: the edges don’t match up perfectly, and the wrapper is ever so slightly too large. They’re trying just that little bit too hard to give the illusion of being homemade. Whereas the others had more filling and less crust, the crust to mincemeat ratio here is about 50:50. This is redeemed by the fact that the crust is beautifully thick and firm. At 80p for a set of 4, they feel like they were made on the day especially for you. These are the ones to go for if you’re buying in bulk, whether you’re stocking up for Christmas, or for the rest of the year.
M & S: 8/10. Delicious pastry with an excellent proportion of not too-sweet mincemeat.
Sainsbury’s Deep Filled: 4/10. Gross, soggy pastry lets this one down thoroughly.
Sainsbury’s bakery: 7/10. Can pretend you made these yourself. Use them to suggest you’re a whizz in the kitchen.