Guest blogger Ash Tuck rates and slates this year’s selection of store-bought mince pies.
I work in health and fitness and so generally lead a pretty balanced lifestyle. However, with dark nights beginning at 1pm, and me telling myself that I’m extremely active all day, a well-earned snack is top of my list the moment I arrive home. And the snack of choice during this festive season? The mince pie, of course!
For years I seem to have just grabbed a box or two at my convenience, not really taking any note of the name or location of the shop. And while this works to satisfy my class A cravings, it can be somewhat disappointing when I get a mouthful of what can only be described as an amalgamation of miscellaneous fruits wrapped in a wet flannel of a pastry casing.
With so many pretentious takes on the classic pie and variations in price, this year I’ve taken it upon myself to find the best value for money classic mince pie out there. A mince pie which we all understand; no fancy blends, no exotic fruits, just a standard mince pie that can be eaten hot or cold and with any accompaniment desirable.
I tested mince pies from all of the major supermarkets, selecting only the basic range (with the exception of Aldi), and scored each in six categories (fullness, pastry, size, sugar topping, overall flavour and overall texture) with marks out of 10.
After about two litres of festive blend coffee and building a fort out of the copious mince pie boxes kicking around in my kitchen, the conclusion of my findings are as follows:
Aldi Specially Selected 48/60
Clear winners with their basic range. A very full pie and an amazing balance of flavour, combined with a decent pastry, put this pie at the top of the pile.
Their speciality range, meanwhile, boasts a brandy-soaked filling and butter pastry, but results in a concoction slightly too rich for my palate. For 79p and £1.15 respectively, who can argue?
An all-butter pastry and arguably the best of the bunch. A real classic taste and a good all rounder. Probably a better pie than Waitrose, especially considering they cost 70p less for six.
The most expensive in the test at £2.50 for six, Waitrose performed annoyingly well. Their all-butter pastry complemented the blend of fruit filling extremely well. But, they’re £2.50 for six!
With a healthy scoop of fruit filling and good pastry, the only disappointment from this pie was the distinct lack of sugar topping. A good all-rounder, but at £1.30 both Aldi options trump Sainsbury’s.
Punching in with a slightly sharper taste than any of the others, these were pretty consistent until it came to the thickness of the pastry – sometimes heavy, chewy mouthfuls, sometimes paper thin, and sometimes both in the same pie!
A poor show with inconsistencies in size, some burnt pastry and, worst of all, it was only about half full. Very disappointing.
Only available in boxes of 12, this pie had no memorable qualities apart from the overly wet filling, which made the pastry soggy. A very poor texture and not a great taste either.
Much like that of the other heavyweight in the competition, Asda, this one was very disappointing. The small size, the cheap taste and absolutely no sugar topping scored this pie at the very bottom of the pile.