Mince Pie Test Alice Fevronia

Mince pies tasted by baker Alice Fevronia: ‘It screams Christmas’ | Food | The Guardian

Alice Fevronia is nervous. The Great British Bake Off finalist has just pelted over to our test kitchen straight from her school, where she still works as a geography teacher, and she’s visibly overwhelmed by the task at hand. “I’m slightly nervous that people might change their purchasing habits based on me,” she frets as she sits before a colossal pile of supermarket mince pies. “This will require much more nuance than just picking between a right answer or a wrong answer on an exam paper.”

And, boy, that nuance will be tested to the extreme over the next 45 minutes, during which she and I will test 19 different mince pies. Some will be traditional, others a genuine affront to Father Christmas and everything he stands for. But at least we’re qualified. Alice is here because the twists and turns of an especially tough Bake Off season have given her an analytical know-how that’s both informed and precise. I’m here because, well, look at me. I quite clearly know my way around a pie.

Very quickly our dynamic reveals itself. Alice loves minces pies – “They’re a pretty integral part of my Christmas,” she admits – whereas I tend to see them as dry and boring and far too much work. She nibbles carefully at the pies, savouring each morsel; my technique is basically to stuff the whole thing in my mouth and then feel sick. But by the end of the test, when Alice sighs with disappointment and says: “I wonder if I’ll ever eat a mince pie ever again,” I feel like I have successfully lured her to the dark side. Merry Christmas!

Waitrose No1 all-butter mince pies, £2.50 for six.

Stuart: “Really good pastry. It collapses properly in your mouth. I got a hard hit of brandy, though, which is really off-putting.” 2/5

Alice: “Lovely appearance. You can’t get much more festive than this. It screams Christmas, and the brandy takes away from the sweetness of the filling. Maybe needs a bit more spice.” 3/5

Waitrose plum, spiced ginger and honey mince pies, £2 for four.

Stuart: “The pastry is pale, and the honey is so sweet that it hurts my mouth. I don’t like it.” 1.5/5

Alice: “This is a perfect lidded mince pie, but it’s far too sweet. I can’t taste the ginger, either. The balance isn’t quite right.” 2.5/5

Heston at Waitrose large spiced mince pies with a lemon twist, £3 for four.

**RUNNER UP**

  

Heston at Waitrose large spiced mince pies with a lemon twist.

 


Photograph: Anna Wilkins/The Guardian

Stuart: “I like the crumble topping, and it’s got a nice big dollop of lemon curd in it, which keeps everything moist. It’s going to be divisive, but I like it.” 4/5

Alice: “It’s wide and shallow, which doesn’t make me think of mince pies. It’s got a lovely texture and the lemon gives it a nice lift, but it falls down slightly on appearance.” 3.5/5

Lidl Deluxe mince pies, £1.35 for six.

Stuart: “The lid came straight off while I was trying to get it out of the foil. That’s the biggest mince pie faux pas going.” 2/5

Alice: “It’s dry. I don’t think I’d make it through a whole pie. Not fabulous.” 1.5/5

Marks and Spencer Collection mince pies, £2.50 for six.

**WINNER**

  

M&S Collection mince pies.

 


Photograph: Anna Wilkins/The Guardian

Stuart: “The filling is moist. The cognac doesn’t punch you in the face as hard as the Waitrose one, either. I really like this one a lot.” 4.5/5

Alice: “I love how it looks. Lovely pastry, really nice balance of spice. The cranberries give it a little bit of sharpness. There is not much that I’d fault with this one.” 4.5/5

Co-op Irresistible luxury mince pies, £2 for 6.

Stuart: “It tastes like a mince pie, but I don’t like the pastry very much.” 3/5

Alice: “The pastry’s too crumbly, the filling is too stodgy. It tastes quite bland to me, too. I’m pretty sure I could resist this one, actually.” 1.5/5

Co-op vegan mince pie, 90p individually.

Stuart: “I feel so bad for vegans. This mince pie sucks so much.” 0/5

Alice: “Oh my god. You can’t even get it out of the tray in one piece. It’s really sweet. The filling is just jam. Where’s the fun in a mince pie that you can’t pick up? You’d end up with it all down you.” 1/5

Mr Kipling iced top mince pies, £1.99 for nine.

Stuart: “Oh no! You can’t heat an iced mince pie. The pressure from biting down on the icing squirted the filling into my mouth, and I can’t tell you how unpleasant that is.” 2/5

Alice: “This looks like something you get at a children’s party. The filling isn’t good, either.” 2.5/5

Greggs mince pie, £1.75 for four.

Stuart: “I’m a humble man, so I quite like the presentation. But it tastes burned. Is it because they cook it in a sausage roll oven? What a disappointment.” 1.5/5

Alice: “This is too shallow. It looks like a Frisbee. The filling is passable, but the awful pastry doesn’t exactly make you want to keep biting into it. Maybe it’s just a bad batch.” 2/5

Aldi Specially Selected all-butter classic mince pies, £1.25 for six.

Stuart: “I like how spiced the filling is, but I don’t like the pastry.” 3/5

Alice: “These are so dry. Flavour’s fine. That’s all I can say.” 2.5/5

Aldi Specially Selected sloe-gin mince pies, £2.49 for six.

Stuart: “I love how this is presented, but it tastes like Vimto. It’s much too sweet.” 1/5

Alice: “It tastes like liquorice. Really good texture, but it’s far too sweet and sickly. I wouldn’t be able to tell that this had sloe gin in it. I should give it credit for its appearance, but I don’t want to.” 2/5

Aldi Specially Selected black forest crumble mince pies, £1.99 for six.

Stuart: “The chocolate doesn’t work with the mincemeat.What a horrible mangling of flavours.” 1/5

Alice: “It’s too jammy. Really, really overly sweet. It looks pretty awful, too. I wish that had never happened.” 1/5

Aldi Specially Selected salted caramel crumble mince pies, £1.79 for six

Stuart: “I really don’t like the texture of the filling.” 2.5/5

Alice: “The glitter dusting is very festive. I wouldn’t be able to tell you that it has salted caramel in it. But the pastry texture is lovely and it tastes nice. Doesn’t do what it says on the tin, though.” 3/5

Morrisons the Best all-butter deep-filled mince pies, £2 for six.

Stuart: “The filling is too boozy and the top is too dry. It’s like they have put a biscuit on the top. Not a fan.” 1/5

Alice: “I can’t speak because the pastry is so dry. This is actually really awful.” 1.5/5

Tesco all-butter mince pies with Courvoisier, £2 for six.

Stuart: “It’s got a more austere snowflake on it than some of the others. The taste of alcohol has got a proper burn to it, which I don’t enjoy.” 2.5/5

Alice: “It’s quite dry and claggy. It’s an effort to eat. The alcohol taste is very strong, too.” 2.5/5

Iceland Luxury crumble topped mince pies, £1.89 for six.

Stuart: “This feels quite homemade. There isn’t enough filling at all. Stingy.” 2.5/5

Alice: “These are rustic. The crumble top works well, but the pastry is dry and the level of filling isn’t great.” 2.5/5

Iceland Luxury mince pies, £1.89 for six.

**RUNNER UP**

  

Iceland Luxury mince pies.

 


Photograph: Anna Wilkins/The Guardian

Stuart: “It’s got the same filling as the crumble top, but there’s so much more of it here. This isn’t hard work to eat at all, which feels like quite a damning indictment of mince pies as a genre.” 4/5

Alice: “There’s no gap between the filling and the pastry, which is lovely. Not too sweet, quite a nice balance of flavours. I quite like this one.” 3.5/5

Sainsbury’s Taste the Difference all-butter mince pies, £2 for six.

Stuart: “The filling is very dark and dry. It’s like someone has wrapped a Christmas pudding in pastry.” 1.5/5

Alice: “The filling is too dry and stodgy, and the pastry is too hard. Mince pies shouldn’t be crunchy.” 1.5/5

Sainsbury’s Taste the Difference all-butter pineapple, coconut and rum mince pies, £2 for four.

Stuart: “I don’t like how it smells. No. No. I hate the texture of the coconut, I hate the taste of the rum. Horrible.” 0/5

Alice: “I’ve made mince pies with pineapple before, and they have been great. But this is unrecognisable as a mince pie. The coconut makes it too dry and the rum is too overpowering. I don’t like the texture or the taste or the looks.” 0.5/5

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Source: Mince pies tasted by baker Alice Fevronia: ‘It screams Christmas’ | Food | The Guardian