I’m declaring this the Christmas of the mince pie. I do love a seasonal baked good and biting into a mince pie instantly makes me think of mistletoe, holly and jolly Santas. I’ve developed a *slight* obsession and have been eating my way through Melbourne’s best mince pies.
Here are the results ranked from my least favourite to favourite. There’s the perfect pie in here for everyone. If you’re a lover of shortbready pastry and fruity mince go to the Nicholson Street Bakery, traditionalists should go to Beatrix, bargain shoppers to Aldi and chocoholics to Burch and Purchese. The winner, as they say, is Christmas.
Proving that I’m not a Christmas snob I tried Coles finest fruit mince pies. Ok I am a bit of a snob as I opted for the “finest” ones (6 for $6) over the unappealing looking Coles standard mince pies which were $1.50 for 6. Anyway, nice presentation with the pastry holly leaves but sadly the pastry was dry and lacked structural integrity falling apart as soon as I bit into it. The mince filling was pretty good – real fruit pieces and erring more on the savoury than sweet side. Overall this mince pie is fine but certainly not the finest. Buy these for a work morning tea where quantity is key over quality. 5/10
I opted for Woolworths gold cranberry and orange fruit mince pies ($6 for 6) over the frankly revolting sounding mango fruit mince pies. Despite the festive champagne glasses topping these pies I would not recommend wasting your Christmas champagne on the woolies pies. They were underfilled which as we all know is a crime against mince pie lovers. The mince mixture was actually quite good and included a splash of booze although erring on the sweet side so it’s a shame. 5/10
Thanks to the lovely Displaced South who dropped around a pack of Dench mince pies. These are posh looking mince pies – nice and uniform with a crunchy sugar coating on top. The pastry is buttery and light and the mince has lots of fruit alongside some added texture from crunchy almonds. Unfortunately these mince pies suffer from being a bit stingy on the filling. There’s lots of air inside the pie and it’s only about half filled with mince. Good if you are worried about your bikini body. But if that’s the case why are you eating mince pies? 6/10
I tried one out of town contender from the Surfside Patisserie in Torquay. As you can see from the photo these are truly mini mince pies so of course I had to eat all four in one go. Nice buttery pastry and a well balanced mince filling. I appreciated the festive dust of icing sugar. However the teeny tiny size of these pies let them down as it threw out the mince to pastry ratio so there was too much pastry and not enough mince. Good for little kids but big kids should look elsewhere. Thanks to Wardy for the submission. 6/10
Tivoli Road Bakery is producing old school mince pies. The pastry is quite different to most pies out there and I’m guessing it has suet in it as there’s a more savoury taste. Still nice and crumbly while holding together. The filling is fruit heavy and quite boozy. The mince has been soaked in cider and brandy since March. Grandma is guaranteed to nod off at the Christmas table after having one of these! This is the mince pie for the traditionalists out there but I prefer my pies a little sweeter. Expensive as well at $4 a pie. 7/10
Local favourite Cavallini Bakery pies have a nice homemade look to them topped with cut out Christmas shapes. The pastry is nice and buttery although a little on the thick side. Lots of fruit in the mince filling which is sweet without being overpowering. $3.50 a pie. Bring these out on Christmas Day with the sparkling Shiraz and there will be no complaints. 7/10
Cobb Lane Bakery
I went West for my mince pie challenge from Cobb Lane Bakery thanks to my friend Mel Hot or Not. The pies have a cute star pastry cut out on top with a dusting of icing sugar to add sweetness. Pastry is buttery but could be softer. The open top showcases the very fruity filling. Nice plump fruit erring on the sweet side. 7/10
The Bakers Delight mince pie is very heavy handed on the pastry although it is nice and buttery like shortbread. Mince is quite sweet and smooth. I enjoyed the thick dusting of icing sugar which gave it a suitably festive feel. It’s an inoffensive mince pie and goes well with a cup of tea but I’m sure there are better out there. Reasonably priced at $1.70 a pie. I give it 7/10
And the best supermarket pie of the mince pie challenge is Aldi! Nice crumbly pastry in a shortbread style although did crack and fall apart indicating dryness. Good mince full of plump fruit with a splash of booze. Well priced at $6 for 6. Grandma will approve of both your pie and your thriftiness 7/10
South side for my mince pie challenge with a delivery from Bossy Boots Cafe which makes these rustic star topped beauties. Ben the owner has been following my quest and insisted I had to try the Bossy Boots mince tarts. I’m glad he insisted! Slightly burnished thick pastry which is satisfyingly buttery. A fruit heavy mice with a jammy finish. Up there with my favourites. 7/10
Burch and Purchase
Burch and Purchase has probably the best pastry I’ve had – thin, crumbly and buttery and truly beautiful to look at decorated with little Christmas trees and a dusting of icing sugar. The filling is delicious but a little controversial as alongside the sultanas there’s also chocolate making these mince pies decidedly sweet. It’s a Christmas party in your mouth! Not one for traditionalists but ideal for chocoholics. One of Melbourne’s most expensive mince pies at $4 each but thanks to the lovely Darren Purchase who spotted me trying to buy the pie and gave it to me instead. I’m giving it 8/10
I’d heard a lot about these pies and I wasn’t disappointed. Beatrix is doing mince pies with a traditional suet pastry and a butter pastry. My preference is butter but you had to buy the butter in a pack of six so suet it was. The pastry was nice and thick with a savoury taste to it from the suet. The mince filling was full of fruit including apples for tartness and the unusual (but welcome!) addition of figs. It was slightly boozy with the fruit cooked long and slow for maximum flavour causing the mince to be quite thick and sticky. I’m ranking these up there with my favourites and giving them an 8/10. $3.50 each.
Baker D Chirico
The Baker D Chirico mince pie pastry is thin but still buttery and crumbly. Crystallised sugar on top adds a bit of crunch. Nice chunky mince with lots of fruit and not too cloying. One of the more expensive pies out there at $3.70 a pop. 8/10.
The pastry star on top of the Rustica mince pie was a bit dodgy although this does give the pie a rustic (geddit) home made feel. The pastry is not to thick and nice and crumbly and the mince is a good mix of sweet and savoury with discernible chunks of actual fruit. Buy this one if you want to pretend you made your own pies or just to scoff yourself. Not cheap at $3.50 a pie but hey you get what you pay for. 8/10
Nicholson Street Bakery
Ho, ho, ho all my Christmases just came at once when I discovered the mince pies at the unassuming Nicholson Street Bakery. Thick pastry reminiscent of shortbread topped with a star cut out these pies deliver a rich fruity filling with lots of shape to the fruit this is a classic all round mince pie. Leave one out for Santa with a cheeky glass of whiskey! A reasonable $2 a pie. 9/10.
Finally, if you want to make your own – here’s my recipe.