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Battle of the pies

Written by Food, Life & Style

It is that time of year again. All the shelves in the shops are stacked high, proudly displaying their shop’s own-brand mince pie treat. Every shop you enter is the same, all offering an enticing 6 pack to take home and have with a hot cup of tea. But, how can you be sure you are getting the right mince pie for you? Do not despair, because we have gathered some enthusiastic tasters to do all the comparing for you!

Tesco – Gemisha Cheemungtoo

From first glance at the seasonally red packaging, the image of the mince pies stacked on top of each other look promisingly juicy. The presentation of the mince pies inside is reasonable and doesn’t stray too far from what you see on the box. The pies are on the side of being just cooked: a light golden brown in colour and coated with a slight sprinkling of sugar.
 
Biting through the crust is not a challenge with the cases being buttery soft and crumbly in the mouth. Be careful to not let it collapse all over you however, which is something I learnt the hard way. A strong indicator of quality was the pie’s good proportion of filling to pastry; however, I did find a subtle floury aftertaste to it (which can easily be ignored, really).
 
Now to the core of the pie itself: the filling. I was glad to find out that the picture was not a lie- it was juicy and moist. Loaded with a generous portion of fruits, the mixture was fairly balanced between sweet and tart, with the flavour of the citrus peels infusing through nicely. Overall, it made for a pretty compelling case of a mince pie: cheap and cheerful, and easily devoured in a couple of bites.

Co-op – Sara Nigohosyan

Co-op is perhaps one of the most convenient stores for students now that it’s opened in the SU, which makes trying its minced pies is just as convenient. 

The good thing about the co-op minced pies is that they are 6 in a box, so you can have them alone and enjoy them for a longer period of time, or share them with someone and enjoy them together. Taste-wise, they’re nice pies. There’s not much that makes them stand out besides their cute, appealing design, but overall they taste like pretty much any other good minced pie. It’s soft, but still has some crunch, and its filling is sweet and fruity. It’s quite small in size, so you’re likely to have two, but it’s also generous in terms of the cup it’s in, as it is overflowing. 

Of course, you can’t expect perfection, as the pies had an uneven sugar coating on the top. However, they were still sweet, but not too much so. 

Overall, they’re a nice treat. They’re definitely worth it for the price, so if you’re doing a casual shopping in the co-op, you might as well grab some sweet minced pies. 

Sainsbury’s – Joe Smith

After not being a mince pie person for most of my life I was pleasantly surprised when taking my first bite of the Sainsburys mince pie. Although still not a fan of the filling, the pastry was almost enough to sway me.

To start with let’s talk about presentation. Sainsburys go for the traditional approach, a simple Christmas tree lays on the top of their pie. It’s simple, effective and not too garish. Sometimes simplicity is the key to success. From this point on, I knew Sainsburys were onto a winner.

As far as taste goes, the pastry was perfect. Not too dry. Not too soggy. Then I got to the mincemeat. As previously mentioned, I’m not a fan of this particular festive filling. However, Sainsburys might’ve just opened my eyes. It tastes how Christmas smells. A fusion of festivities exploded in my mouth and instantly transported me into the middle of December. 

I offered one to my house mate and her exact words were, “This is a banging mince pie.” I couldn’t have put it better myself.

M&S – Rashida Campbell-Allen

These are not just mince pies. These are M&S mince pies. 

For me to assess the quality and greatness of a mince pie, it is all down to the ratio! Ratio of pastry to filling, and when I say that M&S has got this down to a fine art, I’m not overstating. I usually go for the classic deep fill pie. A succulent filling made up of zesty vine fruits and a cheeky tipple of cognac to warm the soul, all snugly encased and sealed within a crumbly shortcrust pastry, providing buttery, melt-in-the-mouth sensations, lightly finished with a dusting of sugar for texture – one simply can not resist. 

When I tried my second one, I was feeling indulgent, so I popped it in the microwave for a few seconds and boy, was this a game changer!

Heck, even the statistics (also known as Which.co.uk) show that M&S are indeed the best mince pies on the market this 2019, scoring an impressive 87% on a blind taste test done across 11 supermarkets. 

So do yourself a favour this Christmas and treat yourself to one of these divine treats.

Waitrose – Meggie Williams

The Waitrose No1 all butter mince pies, costing £2.50 for a 6 pack, are indeed the cream of the crop. Critics and mince pie scrooges say too dense with pastry, I say the perfect balance; with pastry as buttery and melt-in-the-mouthy as this why wouldn’t you want lots of it?

Each mouthful I took my taste buds were met with a punchy pop of apricot, glacé cherries, almonds and brandy: each flavour beautifully counterbalanced each other, giving the perfect Christmas taste and escaping the ‘too heavy category’ I think too many mince pies sadly fall into.

To really get the best out of your mince pie, it must be warmed in the oven and served with lashing of clotted cream (add caramel sauce if you are feeling extra naughty this Christmas time).  Treat yourself this festival season with the best of the best… there is a reason they were ballsy enough to name it No1.

Lidl – Cayla Viner

At Christmas, I am an avid mince pie eater. I could argue it is one of the best parts of the festive season, because these little sweet treats are (much to great sadness) really only exclusive to the end of the year.

I have had my fair share of shop bought pies, and I have to say the Lidl Deluxe is an underrated gem. While it is not as convenient to access compared to the city centre stores, when you are next doing your bargain weekly shop I urge you to splash out on a box.

I have never been the biggest fan of the pastry – it is often far too dry and if the lid is not touching the filling, don’t even bother. However, the quality of the mince is always the deciding factor. These deep-filled, cognac infused and perfectly spiced pies (with a passable encasing) have certainly made it this year.

ASDA – Madeleine Raine

Whether you’re a lover of sweet things or not these pies will not disappoint! Filled with luxurious fruits blended together with an aroma of port, the extra special range that ASDA have introduced into their stores this festive season has led to an influx in business. Encompassing this sweet medley is a buttery yet crisp shortcrust pastry. This contrast between a gooey centre and crispy exterior is enough to make the taste buds tingle and leave you feeling fruitful and festive.

Ranging from 87p for ASDA’s own six pack to £2.00 if you’re wanting to spend a little more and go for their Extra Special range, there is something for everyone. Why not get into the Christmas spirit early and share in this delightful experience.



Last modified: 20th January 2020

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