Eyes on the pies: We rank Christmas mince pies from major supermarkets

Two professional bakers and a pair of food-loving influencers give their take on the mince pies on the supermarket shelves this festive season

05 December 2021 - 00:00
Mince pies.
Mince pies.
Image: Christoph Hoffmann

HOW WE CONDUCTED OUR TASTE TEST

It's free and fair!

Food editor Hilary Biller and food expert Jenny Kay bought the mince pies from five supermarkets — Checkers, Food Lover’s Market, Pick n Pay, Spar and Woolworths. All five stores carry classic mince pies, with some offering twists on the classic.

For a fair judging, the classic pies were presented to the panel at room temperature (heating hinders accurate judging of the pastry) in a blind tasting — which means that, stripped of their packaging, the pies were numbered and presented to the judges, who rated them on a score sheet. The mince pies were judged on appearance, aroma, pastry and filling. Each category was given a score out of 10, making a total out of 40.

We were looking for a mince pie that said Christmas in a mouthful — it had to have the look of a typical mince pie with that familiar festive aroma, a buttery pastry, a generous filling of identifiable fruit-mince ingredients, and leave you with that feeling you could easily go for a second helping, it was that good.

The judging panel included:

  • Mpho Mkwanazi — wine, food and travel influencer
  • Sibusiso Mkwanazi — art, culture, lifestyle, food and travel writer/influencer
  • Stuart McClarty — baker/confectioner and owner of The Underground Bakery
  • Caro Tapson — baker and co-owner of micro bakery Linden Loaves
The Woolies fruit mince pie above Spar Freshline's festive fruit mince pie.
The Woolies fruit mince pie above Spar Freshline's festive fruit mince pie.
Image: Christoph Hoffmann

CLASSIC MINCE PIE

FIRST PLACE

Woolworths Fruit Mince Pies

What the judges said:

The panel said the pastry was crispy and the filling good. The golden brown colour of the pie — on top, not the sides — and the light sprinkling of sugar on the top drew positive comments. From an environmental perspective the panel felt the lack of foil containers was positive. There were positive comments all round and the consensus was that they would buy the pies.

Price: R42.99 for six

SECOND PLACE

Spar Freshline Festive Fruit Mince Pies

What the judges said:

“Well baked, with crumbly pastry,” said one panel member, but the consensus was that though the pies looked very promising and the aroma was great, the filling didn’t live up to expectations. One judge felt the filling wasn’t sufficiently sweet, even though there was a sprinkling of sugar on the top.

Price: R34.99 for four

THIRD PLACE

Checkers Fruit Mince Pies

What the judges said:

The pastry was said to be slightly underbaked and very pale in colour. It was described as “one-dimensional, quite sweet with not much complexity”. And too many raisins, said one judge.

Price: R36.99 for six

The Checkers festive fruit mince pie above Food Lover’s Market's fruit mince pie and Pick n Pay's deep-filled mince pie.
Tasting The Checkers festive fruit mince pie above Food Lover’s Market's fruit mince pie and Pick n Pay's deep-filled mince pie.
Image: Christoph Hoffmann

FOURTH PLACE

Food Lover’s Market Fruit Mince Pies

What the judges said:

“Looked good but unfortunately fell flat after the first bite,” said one judge. “Well-cooked pastry,” said another. The fruit mince lacked flavour, there was little spice and there were tones of bitterness.

Price: R39.99 for six

FIFTH PLACE

Pick n Pay Deep-filled Mince Pies

What the judges said:

The pastry was found to be disappointing and described as too stodgy and pale. One judge found the three “eyes” on top of each pie unattractive for Christmas. “It reminds me of something for Halloween,” she said. The filling was described as spicy and gooey. “It’s back to the drawing board on that pastry,” said another of the judges.

Price: R39.99 for six

Stuart McClarty and Mpho Mkwanazi put the pies to the taste.
Stuart McClarty and Mpho Mkwanazi put the pies to the taste.
Image: Christoph Hoffmann

OTHER MINCE PIES THAT CAUGHT THE JUDGES' FANCY

Checkers Forage and Feast Four Butter Hertzoggie Fruit Mince Pies

Price: R79.99 for four

Woolworths Clemengold Mince Pies

Price: R69.99 for nine mini pies

Woolworths Malted Brownie Fruit Mince Pies

Price: R69.99 for six


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