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What goes into the mince pies that fuel Norfolk’s Christmas spectacular?

PUBLISHED: 11:28 22 December 2019 | UPDATED: 11:36 22 December 2019

Nick Henry and his team at Krusty Loaf in Fakenham proivde mince pies for the visitors of the Thursford Christmas Spectacular. Image: Stuart Anderson/Thursford

Nick Henry and his team at Krusty Loaf in Fakenham proivde mince pies for the visitors of the Thursford Christmas Spectacular. Image: Stuart Anderson/Thursford

Archant

Mince pies are as much a part of Christmas cuisine as the pigs in blankets you put away and the sprouts you push to the side of your plate.

Nick Henry making mince pies at Krusty Loaf in Fakenham. Picture: Stuart AndersonNick Henry making mince pies at Krusty Loaf in Fakenham. Picture: Stuart Anderson

It's even said the average Briton eats a whopping 27 mince pies each festive season.

One company firmly on the serving side of mince pie mania is Fakenham-based wholesale bakery Krusty Loaf.

The bakery supplies the sweet treats to shops from Wisbech to Sidestrand, but by far their biggest customer is another famous festive phenomenon, the Thursford Christmas Spectacular.

Krusty Loaf director Nick Henry said the all-singing, all-dancing show served up 500-600 of their mince pies to its guests from across the country every day.

Nick Henry, making mince pies at Krusty Loaf's bakery in Fakenham. Picture: Stuart AndersonNick Henry, making mince pies at Krusty Loaf's bakery in Fakenham. Picture: Stuart Anderson

Mr Henry, 36, said: "They've got quite an operation up there, and we've been supplying them for about 30 years.

"Thursford handle them really well. The trick is to serve them warm, and they have warming cabinets to make sure the fat has a nice temperature so it dissolves quickly into the mouth.

"They're more moreish that way and you get more of the aroma."

Their mincemeat is a mix of sultanas, raisins, cherries, almonds, vegetable suet, spices and a dash of brandy.

Showgirls in costume for the Thursford Christmas Spectacular 2019. Picture: THURSFORDShowgirls in costume for the Thursford Christmas Spectacular 2019. Picture: THURSFORD

But Mr Henry said they go through so much of the filling - roughly a tonne over the six weeks before Christmas - they couldn't possibly make their own, so it comes from an industry wholesaler.

But what is the secret to making a really good mince pie?

Mr Henry said it's all about the pastry.

He said: "It's the same pastry my dad showed me how to make when I first got involved with the bakery.

Mince pie forms ready for filling at Krusty Loaf in Fakenham. Picture: Stuart AndersonMince pie forms ready for filling at Krusty Loaf in Fakenham. Picture: Stuart Anderson

"We haven't tinkered with the recipe at all.

"You need the right balance between the sugar, the fat and the flour. It's a really short pastry, and we have a lot of good comments about it."

The mince pies are baked for 25 minutes in Krusty Loaf's ovens at 180 degrees before they are sent out for delivery.

On top of all the other loaves, filled sandwiches, tray bakes and other treats, it's pretty much a 24-hour operation.

Paul Henry in the bakery at Krusty Loaf in Fakenham. Picture: Stuart AndersonPaul Henry in the bakery at Krusty Loaf in Fakenham. Picture: Stuart Anderson

Mr Henry's dad Paul, who bought the business in 1987, is now retired, but still comes into help out over the busy summer period and around Christmas time.

A pop of mince pie filling at Krusty Loaf's bakery in Fakenham. Picture: Stuart AndersonA pop of mince pie filling at Krusty Loaf's bakery in Fakenham. Picture: Stuart Anderson

Paul Henry, retired former director of Krusty Loaf in Fakenham, comes in to help out with mince pie production during the festive season. Picture: Stuart AndersonPaul Henry, retired former director of Krusty Loaf in Fakenham, comes in to help out with mince pie production during the festive season. Picture: Stuart Anderson

Mince pies at various stages of production at Krusty Loaf in Fakenham. Picture: Stuart AndersonMince pies at various stages of production at Krusty Loaf in Fakenham. Picture: Stuart Anderson

Pastry destined to become mince pies at Krusty Loaf in Fakenham. Picture: Stuart AndersonPastry destined to become mince pies at Krusty Loaf in Fakenham. Picture: Stuart Anderson

The ovens at the bakery at Krusty Loaf in Fakenham. Picture: Stuart AndersonThe ovens at the bakery at Krusty Loaf in Fakenham. Picture: Stuart Anderson

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