It’s the most wonderful time of year again – no not Christmas, Mince Pie season! For us at Manto, this started as soon as they hit the shelves in early November. Since then we’ve been scoffing them on a near daily basis and are proud to bring you our top 11 Mince Pies (we chose an odd number just to annoy Director Paul).
Before we get started it’s worth mentioning the early dilemma we faced. Our very own Lizzy gave a look of disgust when presented with the first mince pie and this threatened to hinder the very important research we were about to undertake. Nevertheless, a few days of force feeding soon changed that and we had a full team of hungry experts keen to seek out the best mince pies our local shops were offering. So, counting down from 11, here’s our top selection for 2017…
- Co-Op (Fresh Baked) – Based near our office is a Co-Op supermarket and this proved a good start for various pies that appear on our list. However, the Co-Op freshly baked range did not go down well. A mix of dubious crunchy filling and subpar pastry left us struggling to finish this pie and the whole ordeal was quite an upsetting experience. If you want to see a grown man/woman crying whilst eating a mince pie then go for these and look in the mirror.
- Sainsbury’s Taste The Difference, All Butter Pastry – Let me tell you, from appearances these bad boys look decent. A fancy star pattern on top and the idea of a deep fill buttery crust got us drooling but problems soon start to arise about halfway through the pie. Matt experienced an unusual crunchiness midway through and was left wondering if he’d lost a tooth. Random crunchiness = disappointing pie.
- Tesco (packeted) – Mince pies can vary so much depending on occasion and the overall consensus here is that this is a good everyday pie. Nothing to shout about but not much to complain about really. The Ford Escort of pies.
- Co-Op (packeted) – Where Co-Op lets itself down with fresh pies it makes up in packeted ones. Another good every day pie but with a little extra taste in the filling than Tesco.
- Aldi Speciality – Amongst the random array of unbranded goods and home appliances you’ll find Aldi’s take on the classic mince pie. Again, another good standard of pie but they also offered some new and exciting flavours such as salted caramel. After trying these we had mixed feelings and decided that they were too different to be considered for our humble chart. Lizzy particularly enjoyed them because they didn’t really taste of mince pie.
- Mr Kipling – Ah Mr Kipling. The purveyor of sugary treats. These were eaten early on in our research and held a high position for quite some time. Like most of the Mr Kipling range they are delicious and go down nicely with a cup of Yorkshire Tea.
- Greggs – Greggs offers the best fresh chain shop mince pies you can get and have the added bonus of also offering pasties. A Festive Bake and a sausage roll followed by a mince pie? That’s lunch sorted! (mmm heartburn).
- Rolfey’s (actually Anna’s) – Matt likes to take credit for puns and jokes he has actually found on Google. The sneaky bugger also takes credit for mince pies that he didn’t actually make! Anna’s (Matt’s wife) mince pies have a crumbly thick layer of pastry and a deliciously subtle taste to the filling. This got top marks from Lizzy as she hates the ‘middle bit’ and we all agreed that these easily trumped many of the supermarket ones.
- Tesco Finest (with a hint of cognac) – As we reach what we call the ‘Podium of Pies’ we really begin to distinguish the difference between a good pie and a great pie. Tesco Finest Mince Pies have the added bonus of cognac which means if you eat enough you will certainly have a merry christmas (or be violently ill). These pies got approving noises from all of us whilst we had our mouths full and it was agreed the flavour was top of the line whilst the pastry was light and crumbly. Simply lovely.
- M&S – Marks and Sparks proving here that you get what you pay for with mince pies. Paying a more premium price (I think they we’re around £1.80 for 6) gets you a truly delicious pie that is tough to rival. If you have guests round this Christmas then these puppies are definitely worth pushing the boat out for. Quality soft pastry with a filling that leaves you craving more.
1. Crust & Crumb – The King of Pies. Now, we are biased here because Crust & Crumb are a short walk from our office in North Leeds and as far as I’m aware this is their only cafe. However, these pies are worth travelling for let me tell you. With great power comes great cost though and these will certainly leave you out of pocket this christmas if you buy too many. At £1.75 a pie these were easily our priciest pie and, to put that in perspective, the cost of 4 pies from here would have gotten us almost 42 Greggs mince pies (mmm 42 mince pies). Everything about these mince pies was just sensational and Crust & Crumb are worthy winners of our coveted Manto Pie Chart. Well done – please can we have freebies for further research?
So there we have it. We hope you enjoyed reading our painstaking research. Eating so many pies has been tough on our waistlines and with Christmas looming there are no signs of it easing up. Let us know if there’s any you think we missed out and if there’s any people we should avoid.
Until next Christmas my fellow mince pie connoisseurs!