Make the filling. Pour the brandy into a saucepan, bring just to the boil, then add the dried fruits, ginger, fruit rinds and spices and leave to cool. Mix in the almonds, beef, suet and apple, then cover and leave in the refrigerator overnight so that the flavours can develop.
Next day, roll out two-thirds of the pastry on a lightly floured surface and stamp out 7.5 cm (3 inch) circles with a plain biscuit cutter. Press into the buttered sections of 2 × 12-section bun tins, rerolling the pastry as needed. Spoon in the filling.
Add any pastry trimmings to the reserved pastry, then roll out and stamp out 24 × 6 cm (2½ inch) plain circles for the pie tops, rerolling the trimmings as needed. Brush the edges of the filled pie bases with beaten egg, add the lids and press the edges together well.
Brush the tops with beaten egg, then make 4 small steam vents. Bake in a preheated oven, 190°C (375°F), Gas Mark 5, for 15 minutes until the pastry is golden. Leave to stand for 10 minutes, then loosen the edges of the pastry and transfer to a wire rack to cool. Just before serving, dust the tops lightly with sifted icing sugar. These are delicious served as a savoury starter before the Christmas roast turkey or a special roast dinner.