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And the winning mince pie is...

Published Dec 11, 2021

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We’ve been good boys and girls. We’ve worn our masks and washed our hands all year and we all want Santa to leave us something special under the Christmas tree. So which mince pie are you going to serve him this year?

Every year the Independent on Saturday team tastes the mince pies of all our major retail outlets to bring you the pick of the bunch.

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This year Checkers stands out head and shoulders above the rest, scoring 20 out of a possible 30. Spar were not far behind with 17, while Pick n Pay, 15, Woolworths, 13.5 and Food Lovers Market, 13, brought up the rear. Once again Shoprite, which has always been included in this poll, was not selling mince pies this year (although they have hot cross buns on their shelves).

All pies were blind tasted with each judge getting a pie with only a letter being assigned to it. The team is made up of photographer Shelley Kjonstad (SK), reporters Tanya Waterworth (TW) and Duncan Guy (DG) joined by new intern Nokulunga Mkize for whom this was a first. Completing the team is news editor Lindsay Slogrove (LS) and myself (FC). Enjoy.

Spar mince pie 17/30

Spar R38.99

SK: Very crumbly pastry, generous filling, pleasant taste, I hesitantly say it’s my favourite. 3.5

DG: It’s slightly bland looking and the pastry tastes a touch bland. There isn’t a generous helping of mince. 2

NM: Found it super sweet for my liking, and it leaves a tangy taste. The appearance is not so appetising. 2

TW: A nice sprinkling of sugar and sweet mincemeat if that’s your preference, pastry a bit overcooked. 3

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LS: Plain looking with lots of sugar sprinkled on it. Crumbled while removing it from the foil cup and while trying to eat it. There was a decent helping of filling which had some interesting citrussy chewy bits and was overall pleasant. 3

FC: Looked a little hurried and underfilled. Pastry soft but not doughy and at least fairly thin. The mince is a shade sweet but had a proper fruity taste with some spice and citrus notes. 3.5

Pick n Pay mince pie. 15/30

Pick n Pay 36.99

SK: Pastry, although having an interesting design, is thick and stodgy, but the worst part was the filling had an overly spice taste with unpleasant bits, like little twigs. 1

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DG: It looks quite home-made, which is heart warming. The pastry is rather thick and tastes a bit bland. While the generosity of mince is a plus, it could be more spicy. 2.5

NM: Too many raisins, although very appealing on the outside, pastry was soft. 3

TW: Most appealing looking, soft pastry (although a bit thick) and a generous dollop of mincemeat. 3

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LS: Looked attractive with some centre piercings and very little sprinkled sugar to add to the sweet load. It was way easier to extract from the foil and full of filling, a well balanced sweet/spicy mix, also with some lemony crunchy bits. Pastry was non intrusive and did its job of holding it all together. Possible seconds. 3.5

FC: it looks pretty with its three little air holes in the lid, but the pastry is thick and completely stodgy. Filling is also way too sweet. 2

Food Lovers Market mince pie. 13/30

Food Lover’s Market 29.99

SK: There is nothing nice to say about this one, pastry and the little filling there is, was all offensive. 1

DG: It tries to look perfect and succeeds. Balance of pastry and mince is good and the mince has a nice, spicy taste. 4

NM: Soft and crunchy, makes you want to take another bite, creamy with a cheesy taste but a bit over-cooked. 3

TW: The least attractive with leaking mincemeat and pastry suggests it was left too long in the oven, but a good sugar dusting. 2

LS: Very plain with lots of sugar on top and not even a fork pinch on the slightly overcooked edges. The top fell off in one piece while taking it out of foil. The pastry was awful, with a burnt taste, and the bland filling didn't contribute anything towards overcoming its failings. No thanks. 2

FC: This looked a little overcooked. The lid capsized while trying to get it out of the foil cup to expose an underwhelming filling of a few dried out raisins. Pastry is way too thick and the whole thing tasted like burnt margarine. Avoid. 1

Pie D: Woolworths (13.5 out of 30)

Woolworths R42.99

SK: Very mediocre, not something I want to put weight on for! I would call it plain Jane. 2

DG: It looks fairly attractive. The mince is perhaps too sweet rather than spicy. 2

NM: A bit dry, I had to wash them down with a glass of water, I doubt I would ever stop for this pie. 1

TW: A slightly lemony touch to the mincemeat and pastry golden at edges the way I like it, so this was my favourite. 4

LS: No cheer here in spite of the heavy load of sugar sprinkled on a plain top with tiny little fork edges on the overcooked pastry which overwhelmed any other taste. Filling was just sweet, with no hints of anything else. Didn’t even come in a foil cup. 2

FC: Looks pretty with its crimped and nicely browned edges and sprinkling of sugar. But it was all pastry and a very heavy pastry at that. Some citrus flavours in the mince helped. 2.5

Checkers mince pie. 20/30

Checkers R36.99

SK: With a pretty star design, I was hoping for a win, but let’s give it second place. The filling is more like a grape jam which is quite pleasant. 3

DG: The design looks a bit slapdash. The upside is that it is generous on mince, which could be more spicy. 2.5

NM: Fresh pastry, would definitely have one again. 4

TW: Lots of fruit and looks good, could have done with an extra shake of the sugar sprinkler. 3

LS: Very pretty with a cutout star and gentle sugar sprinkle. Unobtrusive pastry held it all together as it slipped easily out of the tray and didn't intrude again. The filling was tasty, with small chunky chewy bits and had more spice than sweet and a nice orangey taste. Easily the best and could tempt a return for thirds. 4.5

FC: Liked the little star cut-out although it was over sugared. The pastry was firm but still it melted in the mouth. The filling was too sweet and a little jammy, but a pleasant mince pie. 3

The Independent on Saturday

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