RECIPE | The Saxon Hotel's luxury mince pies

Chef Nathan Jacobs shares the recipe for the festive treats served up at one of Joburg's most exclusive hotels

24 November 2019 - 00:00 By Nathan Jacobs
Mince pies are often made with suet, but chef Nathan Jacobs believes butter makes for a lighter pastry.
Mince pies are often made with suet, but chef Nathan Jacobs believes butter makes for a lighter pastry.
Image: 123RF

"This is not a traditional fruit mince pie as we know it. Originally the Christmas mince pie was made with meat and suet and evolved into more of a sweet than savoury pie," says Nathan Jacobs.

"I created this recipe from research during my tenure as a chef and have added different ingredients to jazz up the everyday mince pie. There are common ingredients when you look at mince pie recipes - they all contain dried fruits, spices and alcohol in varying amounts. I've chosen not to use suet as I feel it makes a lighter pie, and use butter instead for a good-tasting pastry."

Makes: about 36 mince pies


750g granny smith apples, peeled, cored and cut into 5mm squares

250g dried apricots, cut into 5mm squares roughly

250g dried cranberries

125g raisins

125g sultanas

150g candied orange peel

50g candied lemon peel

150g treacle brown sugar (dark brown sugar
can be used)

5ml (1 tsp) ground cinnamon

2.5ml (½ tsp) ground ginger

A pinch of allspice

A pinch of nutmeg

1 orange, zest and juice

1 lemon, zest and juice

150ml brandy


300g butter, softened but not melted

150g icing sugar, sifted

A generous pinch of fine salt

2 large eggs

60g ground almonds (almond flour)

500g (4 cups) cake wheat flour


  1. For the filling combine apples, apricots, cranberries, raisins, sultanas, candied peel, sugar and spices and place in a medium to large pot and cook over low heat for 15 minutes.
  2. Remove from the heat and place in a clean bowl and stir in the zest and juice of the orange and lemon followed by the brandy. Leave at room temperature to cool.
  3. Spoon into sterilised jars, seal and refrigerate. It's a good idea to make the filling a week before making the pies to allow the flavours to mature.
  4. For the pastry, combine the butter, icing sugar and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer with a paddle attachment and cream until combined.
  5. Add the eggs and mix until incorporated. It's very important not to overmix at this stage as this would make the pastry tough to eat.
  6. Add the ground almonds and flour and mix on low speed until just combined.
  7. Remove the dough from the bowl and knead until well combined.
  8. Clingwrap the dough and rest in the fridge for 45 minutes to an hour.
  9. After resting, roll the dough out, preferably between 2 sheets of baking paper, to 2mm in thickness. Cut out rounds to fit in the mould you are using and gently place in the mould. Freeze for 20 minutes.
  10. Remove from the freezer and fill with your fruit mince filling.
  11. Cut star shapes or snowflake shapes or plain rounds to fit on top. If you are using pastry rounds, brush just a little egg wash around the edges then place dough on top and press gently to seal the edges. Poke a small hole on top to allow the steam to release during baking.
  12. Bake at 180°C for 15 to 20 minutes or until golden brown. This time will depend on your oven.