Step inside the Irrewarra Bakery: crafting our handmade Christmas Mince Tarts

If you’re anywhere near our bakery in late November and December, you won’t miss the warm scent of buttery pastry that regularly wafts from our original bakery in the old 1880s stables. This year, we're giving you a behind-the-scenes look at how our excellent bakers, Robyn and Belinda, handcraft our delicious Mince Tarts from scratch. It’s a masterful process that begins with quality local ingredients and ends on the Christmas tables of family celebrations right across Australia.

Crafting our Mince Tart Pastry

Since 2018 we have made our Mince Tarts by hand in our original stables bakery. The dedicated process has now become an Irrewarra festive tradition that we look forward to every year! Our Mince Tarts start with fresh local butter from the Warrnambool Cheese and Butter Factory, Moorepark free-range eggs from neighbouring Warncoort, Laucke flour milled at their Victorian Bridgewater mill, and Australian sugar. These ingredients are all lightly combined into an ultra short, rich and smooth dough. The short mixing time prevents the gluten in the flour from being over-developed, resulting in a pastry case that is melt-in-your-mouth soft.

After a period of resting, we roll our dough out to cover the entire bench before using round cookie cutters and a special star-shaped tool to press out the iconic Irrewarra star on the centre of the tart lids.

By combining the best local ingredients with our artisan baking skills, we produce a buttery, sweet pastry and a biscuit-like crumb that melts in your mouth, but is still sturdy enough to hold the dense and sweet filling of macerated fruits.

A brilliant blend: our Mince Tart filling

We’ve perfected our Mince Tart filling recipe by macerating Granny Smith apples in French brandy with a unique blend of whole vine dried fruits: currants, prunes, dates, sultanas, raisins and dates. The addition of prunes gives the mince a lovely tartness and silkiness. You'll find no large chunks of harsh mixed peel in our tarts – only a fine grating of orange zest that gives a hint of fresh citrus flavour and provides balance to the brandy and spice blend. We carefully balance our fruit mince flavours against the delicate buttery pastry, and avoid using thickeners, butter or excessive sweeteners in our mix.

Final touches to finish

To prepare for baking, our bakers top up each base with equal filling before carefully pressing each tart lid on by hand. Then, it's off into the oven they go to be baked on low-medium heat to produce a heavenly golden crust. After baking, we remove the tarts from the pans and allow them to cool in the pan for exactly 8 minutes – the ideal time for the pastry to set but not stick to the pan. The result? Bites of pure joy!

Finally, our tarts are carefully hand-packaged in our beautifully festive Irrewarra Mince Tart boxes and sent out to stockists. From there, it’s over to you! They’re perfect to share as a celebratory treat with friends or colleagues, offer as a gift to Santa, or dust with icing sugar and arrange elegantly on a plate as a beautiful Christmas season staple.