I didn’t always like mince pies. But one year, a family member splashed out on Heston Blumenthal ones from Waitrose, along with alcohol-spiked cream. We warmed them up in the oven, dolloped the cream, scuttled off to the nearest chair, wrapped ourselves up in a blanket and sat in silence as we devoured. Once we’d finished we looked at each other sheepishly. “Shall we have another one?” “Yeah, go on”.
On a separate occasion, when I returned to London for Christmas, I made a beeline for the St John Neal’s Yard Bakery in Covent Garden, especially to pick up one of their iconic mince pies. Funnily enough, it was the same family member that I shared this one with, when I got home, because it was too decadent for me to handle on my own. Once again, we relished in this silent moment of utter festive bliss. “Shall we have anoth- oh you only bought one, why on earth did you do that?”
To be honest, I’ve been eating mince pies from the supermarkets since October (anyone else?) but I had it marked out in my diary for when the following independent bakeries in Leeds were going to launch theirs. They are all deliciously decadent, homemade and the ultimate treat this winter – make sure you buy a handful and it goes without saying, I highly recommend two mince pies in one sitting.
Available each Saturday, keep an eye on their Instagram channels for updates.
Nova champions agricultural techniques that give back to the land. They work with and spotlight farmers who truly understand the nuanced impact that land, soil and climate can have on crops before they even get turned into fresh flour and supplied to bakeries. The pastry for this year’s mince pie is made with golden semolina and wholewheat Cornovii from Turners of Bytham, an organic family farm in Lincolnshire. It is a beautiful canvas encasing the homemade mincemeat like a sturdy corset; one bite letting go to a heady combination of glossy, glistening fruit. Boozy, sweet and gorgeously sticky all at the same time, featuring candied peel, organic British plums and apples. Anything you buy from Nova will bring a spark of magic into your day.
Nova Bakehouse, Unit 33, The Boulevard, Leeds Dock, Leeds LS10 1PZ
Porterhouse Cake Co
Porterhouse Cake Co is a micro-bakery and you’ll recognise their pastries from many indies around Leeds but you can now also head directly to the source, to stock up on mince pies this season! Covered in a dainty dusting of icing sugar, reminiscent of the first five minutes of any snowfall, when you are giddy with excitement and keep getting up to look out the window in disbelief that this is actually happening right now. Every bite of this mince pie is enveloped with comforting sweetness and it’s an utter treat. The mincemeat is full of lovely citrus notes and is delightfully gooey.
Porterhouse Cake Co, Unit 3, Armley Link, Armley Road, Armley, Leeds LS12 2QN
L’éclair is a French-inspired bakery in Leeds (oh, how I waited so long for you!) The rows and rows of meticulously-crafted tarts and éclairs are a thing of beauty – and actually quite mesmerising. If you are not (yet) a mince pie convert and are perhaps still dipping your toes into the joyous world of fruity, boozy mincemeat, I would recommend starting your journey with their almond mince tarts. It’s mince pie meets Bakewell Tart; sweet and sticky but wonderfully subtle. It is very tasty indeed.
L’éclair Patisserie, Unit 3 & 4 Swinnow Grange Mills, Stanningley Road, Leeds LS13 4EP