Our range of mince pies includes puff pastry, crumble toppings, Free From ... and a new sharing variety. Product developer Ciara Loker blogs about the new additions, and what it's like preparing for Christmas year round...
Preparing for Christmas is an all-year round job – I tucked into my first mince pie of the year in January!
As a bakery team, Christmas is all about going out and looking at innovation and trends and bringing them into our fantastic Christmas range. My favourite part of preparing for Christmas this year has been developing our range of mince pies.
We've always prided ourselves on offering a mince pie to suit all tastes and this year we've put in a lot of work to develop the range so there's something for everyone – including people who say they don't like mince pies! I'm really happy with what we've done with the products.
As part of our research we did a Christmas trawl of London last year for inspiration and we saw a few bakeries with large mince pies, and thought it was a nice idea to create a version of a mince pie designed for sharing. It's seven inches in diameter, which is almost three times the size of a normal mince pie, so it's perfect to slice up if you're having a Christmas party or if you've got family and friends round. I love to top mine with brandy cream!
The recipe that we've used is the same mince meat recipe that goes into our Cafe mince pies. We worked closely with the supplier, who already produce large fruit pies for us throughout the year so were already well equipped to create something like this for us. It's a delicious crumbly pastry filled with juicy sultanas, raisins, festive peel and cranberries, finished with a pastry lattice design and sprinkled with icing sugar for a festive finish.
The sharing mince pie is available at our in-store bakeries at Asda superstores from 22nd November for £1.50.
It's a fun process coming up with new twists on the classic mince pie, but sometimes it can be hard to deliver because it's quite a scientific process working with mince meat and it can be hard to get it right and have those flavours come through. But this year we've got some great new additions with our Brandy Butter-topped Mince Pie which is a really nice product that has a little bit of a twist on it. We all know someone who says they don't like mince pies, so we've got an alternative to mince meat for people who don't like it with our Caramel Crumble Pies.
I was adamant that this year we needed to add something to the range which didn't include mince meat because it can be something that people either love or hate, so I thought it would be nice to introduce the Caramel Crumble. We know that our customers love chocolate and caramel so it seemed like the perfect pairing for an alternative to those traditional flavours.
This year we've brought back our six pack of classic Mince Pies, which have been approved by The Vegan Society. We've also improved the pastry and the look and feel of our Extra Special Mince Pies and we've matched our Extra Special Mini Mince Pies to the full size ones so they sit together quite nicely. We've also got our Free From Mince Pies, which are free from gluten, milk and wheat, and we've also brought back the Crumble Mince Pie which customers really loved last year.
My favourite definitely has to be the Brandy Butter Mince Pie – I eat them every week! I always like to enjoy a mince pie on Christmas Day though so I make sure to only eat them throughout the year when I have to, so I don't spoil that tradition. I probably taste the mince pies that I develop about 15 times before they land on the shelves and then I taste the product once it lands on the shelf once every two weeks – so it does work out as quite a lot!
We've loved working on the range this year but we've already started working on our plans for 2019 and I think there's even more that we can go after, in terms of looking at what's on trend and bringing that into the range. We always make sure to pay attention to what customers are saying online about our range, and it makes me feel proud and happy that our customers are enjoying them so much. Plus the feedback we see really does help to shape our future ranges, so I'm looking forward to seeing what everyone thinks of this year's selection.
Take a look at our full range of mince pies in store and online.