Regency Lemon Mince Pies & Tarts


Regency Lemon Mince Pies & Tarts

The 21st century mince pie is a really good example of a medieval dish that has evolved to suit modern tastes.

A mince pie in Tudor times would have contained a rich mixture of sweet and savoury tastes but today all that remains of the original savoury ingredients is the suet – and even that is now being replaced with non-animal products.

This original recipe for lemon mincemeat was written down between 1775 and 1817 by Martha Lloyd who was a close companion of writer Jane Austen.

In common with many ladies of the period, Martha Lloyd compiled her own cookery book which has been updated by Maggie Black and Deirdre Le Fay as "The Jane Austen Cookbook' and published by the British Museum Press.

We have stayed faithful to the original recipe but have replaced the candied orange peel with mixed peel for convenience and worked out the quantities in cupfuls to make it easier to cook.

The spices can be adjusted to suit your taste but we think that these quantities are a good place to start.


Original recipe

"Take a good lemon squeese out the Juice, boil the Pulp with the rind tender & pound it very fine; put to it three quarters of a pound of currants, half a pd. Of Sugar, half an oz: of Orange flour water a good glass of Mountain or brandy put in your juice with half a nutmega little mace Cittron or candied Orange peel as you please. You must put three quarters of a pd. Of Beef Suet Chopt very fine & mixed with the Currants. [added by another hand:] Half a doz. Apples chopt fine & added to it is a great improvement.'



1 large lemon
2 ½ cups of currants
1 cup of chopped green apple
1 ¼ cups of white sugar
2/3 cup of mixed peel
1 ½ cups of shredded beef suet
½ teaspoon of grated nutmeg
½ teaspoon of ground mace
freshly ground pepper to taste
1 tablespoon of orange-flower water
5 tablespoons of Malaga wine or brandy


Squeeze the lemon and strain the juice
Boil the pulp and rind until soft then wizz to a paste in an electric blender.

Cook's Note: Originally this would have been done by grating and then grinding the pulp and rind in a pestle and mortar. The blender will produce a very smooth paste without all the hard work!

Mix all the dry ingredients in a large bowl then mix in the lemon paste.
Finally add all the liquids including the lemon juice and stir well.

Cook's Note: If the mincemeat is to be stored for any length of time then the mixture should be baked in the oven for 1 hour at 225-250F or 110-130C. The mincemeat can then be stored in sterilised jars. (Mixture makes about 4lb – 1.8 kilos of mincemeat)

The finished mincemeat can be used to fill pastry (shortcrust is our favorite) cases or made into decorated tarts as our illustration shows. We even tried it in puff pastry cases and found them delicious.

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