December 28, 2008

Mince Pies – which is the best?

By Andrew In Articles
A mince pie taste test held in 2008.

How do you like your mince pies? Plenty of fruit, lashings of brandy, rich and buttery pastry, a satisfying crunch from added nuts?

A family Boxing day gathering brought together five mince pie samples for a fun little taste-test. For comparison were samples from Waitrose, Sainsbury’s, Tesco, Marks and Spencer and an independent ‘deli’ brand. Eight tasters rated each blind looking at the overall appearance, the pastry, the filling and fill level and the overall taste, awarding each a score out of 5.

In the order given to the tasters the results were:

  1. Sainsbury’s Taste The Difference Mince Pie (£1.60*) – 97 points
  2. Marks and Spencer Deep Filled Mince Pie (£1.65) – 58.5 points
  3. Marshfield Bakery Handmade Mince Pies (£3.50) – 97 points
  4. Waitrose All Butter Mince Pie (£2.19) – 77.5 points
  5. Tesco Puff Pastry Mince Pie (cheap*) – 70.5

The most disappointing was the last (different to the others being a puff pastry slice rather than a pie) as it really lacked much in the way of mince meat filling. The Waitrose version was the only one that tasted of brandy but most thought the filling overly rich especially when combined with the very buttery pastry. Many mentioned the (perhaps excessive) use of lemon peel in the Marshfield Bakery pies, one I didn’t take too much but they really looked homemade coming complete with ill fiting lids.

The M&S Classics, not their top of the range version, was universally derided with poor tasting pastry holding a poor level of very sloppy, runny mincemeat. Of the supermarket three appearance was pretty much similar although the Sainsbury’s pie had an extra dusting of, entirly unnecessasary, sugar.

The price is shown above but was not revealled to the tasters; Sainsbury’s have deleted all mincepies fom their website so the price is approximate. Tesco requires registration before viewing which I decline to do.

These little tasting events are rather fun; previously we have looked at Vanilla Ice-cream and on Spittoon Ginger Beer.

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  1. Lizzie December 28, 2008

    Ah, how I wish that I could like mince pies more! I did try one recently whereby it was insisted that I add a slice of really mature cheddar under the lid of the pie, after warming it through and that was a great combination, as strange as it sounds.

  2. Sarah December 29, 2008

    My family would kill me if I gave them storebought mince pies… this year I upped the ante and eschewed the storebought filling too – I think I’m in deep! Especially considering I don’t like it myself…

  3. Andrew December 29, 2008

    I love a mince pie but have to agree that homemade, even mine, are superior. Not had a go at making my own miincemeat yeat though.

  4. Philip James January 1, 2009

    Ouch – everytime i visit the UK i get the M&S ones, seems like i could be doing much better.

  5. aforkfulofspaghetti January 2, 2009

    Totally agree with you about those M&S mince pies. I bought some only because of lack of time – and regretted it hugely. They were tremendously disappointing, and really not worth having at all.
    Frankly, the best mince pies I’ve had are from my local Italian-owned deli in Balham. The owner makes them herself, and they’re shortcrust deep-filled versions. The pastry is wonderfully short, and the mincemeat so yummy…
    More of these reviews in 2009, please – and have a good one!

  6. Tessa January 3, 2009

    Well Boxing day arrived and I thought to myself that I would try and win this mince pie tasting as in the past tastings (ice cream) my ‘entry’ came last. So on route to the family house I popped into Marks and Spencers, as I thought “its not any meal, its Marks and Spencers”! Well how wrong I was, they were very poor, so again where did my contribution come??? Last…….
    So ideas for our spring/summer tasting — dark chocolate, coco cola drink?? anymore ideas will be welcomed.
    Tess Barrow

  7. Jeanne January 21, 2009

    Interesting. Weren’t we going to have one of these with the food bloggers? Next year! 😉 The only mince pies I had this year were some M&S mini ones – I am asuming they weren’t the bog standard ones because they were nice and boozy and rather pleasant. Agree though – I always prefer my own.

  8. Nick January 21, 2009

    Great fun, Lizzie’s homemade mince pies are the best but don’t tell my mother!

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