28 November 2022
This British Christmas tradition goes back centuries, to when they were made using different kinds of meat, most often mutton, which is where the name comes from. Now, mince pies are most commonly made using raisins, sultanas, currants and sugar, though other fruits like apples may be added into the mix. They are a wonderful, tasty addition to any winter or Christmas miniature scene and if making a period prep board, why not try adding meat for more authenticity?
You will need
- Scrap clay, cadmium yellow, translucent, burnt umber, ecru, raw sienna, alizarin crimson and white polymer clay
- Silicone mould putty
- Acrylic paint
- White chalk
- Baby powder
- Gloss and matte water-based varnish
- Ceramic tile to work on and to bake the pies on
- Flat chisel silicone sculpting tool
- Small embossing tool
- Craft sand (optional)
- FIMO Liquid (or another liquid polymer clay)
- Soft pastels in earth tones
- Needle tool (or other pointy tool)
- Small star punch/cutter/paper template
- Small round cutter
- Small paintbrushes
- Paper towel
1 Take a small amount of scrap clay, roll it into a ball and flatten it against a small tile. Use a flat chisel silicone tool to shape the sides at an angle and to make the top as flat as possible. Texture with a toothbrush. My pie measures around 5mm at the base, but you can make it in any size you need. Bake for 15 minutes at 110° Celsius.
2 Once the base for the pie is baked and cool, make a mould using two-part silicone mould putty. Leave to set. You might want to make several moulds to be able to work on several pies at once.
3 To make the dough for the mince pies, I mixed 2 parts translucent, 1 part white, 1 part ecru and a 1/8th yellow of polymer clay roughly. You can adjust this to taste.
4 Once the mould has set, I rolled the mince pie dough mix into a strand and cut lots of even pieces. I rolled these into balls and pushed them into the mould using an embossing tool to make a little dip for the filling. Then I carefully textured the edge with a toothbrush. Bake the pie crusts in the moulds for 15 minutes.
5 To make the different fruits for the filling I mixed translucent clay with roughly half the amount of burnt umber, raw sienna, alizarin crimson and pastel yellow (to make small pieces of apple) to have some variety of colours, but you can use less than these. You don’t have to use the same amount of colour in the mix either, you can use predominantly burnt umber for example and less of the ‘apple’ mix.
6 Roll the different colours into long thin, strands and cut lots of tiny pieces.
7 Add some FIMO Liquid (or another translucent liquid polymer clay) to the fruit, a little brown and/or terracotta soft pastels and some white/clear craft sand for texture. Mix all with a soft silicone tool.
8 Once the pie crusts are baked and cool, fill them with the fruit mix using a needle tool. This mix is sticky so you might need to help yourself with another tool, like when spooning cupcake batter into the cases. At this point you can add a little texture to the fruit pieces on the top with a needle tool, so that they resemble currants, raisins and sultanas.
9 Take the pastry clay mix and run it through setting #6 or so of your pasta machine (1mm thick roughly). Dust a little baby powder on the clay and a small star punch and cut out some star shapes. Use a round cutter to cut around the star holes to get the inverse design. Use a toothbrush to add texture.
10 Carefully add the stars to the pies. If adding the inverse design, brush a little FIMO Liquid on the edge of the pies so that the uncured clay sticks. Use your finger or a soft silicone tool to blend and join the clay to the pie. Add a little texture with a toothbrush. Use a needle to make tiny indentations around the edge of the pie with the hollow star. If the needle sticks to the clay, dust a little baby powder on it.
11 To make a part-eaten mince pie, fill in the mould with less clay and use the embossing tool to hollow the centre out, stretching the clay evenly up the sides. Add some texture to the top with a toothbrush.
12 Take the pie out of the mould and use the embossing tool to press it on the tile you are going to bake it on. This way the pie won’t move when adding the filling, cutting it and texturing it.
13 Carefully add some filling into the pie.
14 Using a sharp blade, cut a chunk off the pie.
15 Use a needle to texture the pie crust. You can drag some of the filling down to make it look as if it’s oozing out of the pie or add new pieces of fruit on the bottom.
16 Take a star, remove a chunk with a knife and add it to the pie, texturing with needle. Bake all the pies for 30 minutes.
17 Once cool, add some colour with acrylic paints. I started with a light base of ecru almost all over, leaving the centre of the pie almost untouched, followed by burnt umber, blending it from the edges out. You can make the pies as light or as dark as you want, there are so many different looking pies out there!
18 Once the paint is dry, glaze the filling with gloss water-based varnish. Scrape a little white chalk on a dish and pick it up with a brush dipped in matte varnish to apply it to the pies in an uneven manner. Once this is dry, glaze the pie crusts with matte water-based varnish.
Top Tip: If you don’t have a star punch, you can make a template out of paper and place it on the sheet of clay to cut out the shapes. You can also try a different pie crust design, or a different punch with a festive or winter design like a Christmas tree or a snowflake.