Bread to Bread: Mince Pies

Check out the updated round up for 2013 to see the latest, and best, pies!

For the first time on Gluten Free B, I bring you a “back by popular demand” feature! My colleagues at work have been hounding me ever since the brownie tasting for another gluten-free eating competition! Who am I to keep people from their treats?!

It’s November, and we are officially allowed to start thinking about Christmas – so we turn our attentions to the important things in life – mince pies! And what a difference a year makes in terms of choices on the gluten free market: I was excited and pleased to see such a diverse range of products from the major retailers this year. But which will win out in the estimations of 6 of my Gluten-Eating Colleagues? We rated 4 types of pies across all of the important factors: awarding marks for quality of pastry, yumminess of filling, crust-to-filling ratio, and general festive cheer. Which pies are good enough to leave out for Father Christmas? And which are going on the naughty list?

Pass the sherry: Marks & Spencer Butter Rich Gluten Free Mince Pies
£2.49 for 4, 170 calories per pie
Despite Hoz admitting half way into eating this that she didn’t like mince pies, we were off to a good start. Everybody liked the traditional branding and Christmassy stars from auntie-M&S which made these pies tricky to find among the non-GF ones instore. M&S do a good job of making good food that just happens to be gluten free! Some of our panel didn’t even try this one “it just didn’t look nice” because of the very dry, crumbly appearance and marzipan but despite this M&S achieved the joint top score due to a nice buttery pastry taste and the most balanced ratio of mincemeat to ingredients. Seems you can’t beat a familiar brand!
Average GF-Nomability: 7/10

The “do they know it’s Christmas?” pie: Sainsbury’s Free From Iced Topped Mince Pies
£2.19 for 4, 220 calories per pie
The surprise winner of ‘best pastry’, even though it is dairy-free, was unfortunately a let down in the other categories. As Fee pointed out: “no festive cheer on the box at all!” Inside, our tasters didn’t like the uniform shape and very thick icing, although the flavour of the citrusy mincemeat was a crowd-pleaser. (Worth noting that Sainsbury’s do have an alternative pie without the icing.)
Average GF-Nomability: 5/10

Most like Mr. Kipling: Waitrose Love Life Free From Deep Filled Mince Pies
£2.50 for 4, 216 calories per pie
A good “solid” pie with “classic Waitrose elegance” (I’m beginning to suspect my team are in the pay of these brands!) apparently. The thick crust was much more biscuity and crunchy than the other competitors, but had a pleasant warm brown colour with sugary twinkles. Fee liked the “mincemeat like my mum’s”. A good all-rounder in our criteria, but not a stand out pie. (Worth noting that these pies contain syrup derived from wheat, which is suitable for GF-ers, but not for some people with wheat allergy).
Average GF-Nomability: 6/10

Ding dong merrily on pie: Genius Gluten Free Mince Pies
£2.25 for 4, 202 calories per pie. Available in Tesco, Asda or online.
The gorgeous bright box met with ‘ooohs’ of delight from the team, but the pies inside were controversial; with half of us loving the flatter, pale, home-made look. Hoz, however, was on the other team: “if you want home made, make them yourself!”. The mincemeat has a distinct apple flavour; and we all agreed that there was just the right amount of pastry. This was much softer than all of the other pies, which made them really quite crumbly. The branding and home-made appeal, teamed with the dusting of icing sugar, made Genius the winner of the ‘most festive’ round.
Average GF-Nomability: 7/10

If you liked this, why not find out which is the best gluten free shortbread?

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12 responses to “Bread to Bread: Mince Pies

  1. Love the genius and sainsburys mince pies. The M&S pies sound delish. Looking forward to having one with a coffee later.

  2. oh why oh why don’t manufacturers make them all dairy free too? Surely the buttery taste isn’t that important to a mincepie which should taste of mincemeat!

    • I’m afraid I personally think a buttery flavour is important, but as the Sainsbury’s pies show, you can achieve it without dairy – their pastry was actually really good! You do get some that taste too much of vegetable oil.

      You could also make your own cheat’s pies using the Dietary Specials shortcrust pastry which is dairy free and has great texture.

  3. I have to admit, although last year the Genius mince pies were my favourite, I had an M&S gluten free mince pie and it was GORGEOUS!!

    • Did you ever know anyone to turn down free cake?! Assuming they aren’t just sparing my feelings I think I pretty much have them convinced GF is as good as normal now…

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