Hot Cross Bread and Butter Pudding

Hot Cross Bread and Butter Pudding. This is a really easy way for you to make bread and butter pudding. You don’t need any extra dried fruit just what’s in the hot cross buns and some of our fantastic local dairy produce.

Hot Cross Buns

Hot cross buns!
Hot cross buns!
One ha’ penny, two ha’ penny,
Hot cross buns!
If you have no daughters,
Give them to your sons
One ha’ penny,
Two ha’ penny,
Hot Cross Buns!

First published in the “Christmas Box” London, 1798

Hot Cross Buns

You probably sang the nursery rhyme as a child, but the origins of the hot cross bun go back as far as the fourteenth century. Traditionally made from enriched bread dough with raisins or currants and mixed peel. You eat them on Good Friday to mark the end of the fasting for Lent. The piped cross signifies the crucifixion. The cinnamon and nutmeg are thought to represent the spices used to embalm Jesus’s body.

Sweet spiced buns were first probably associated with Easter when given to the poor. By Elizabethan times the sale of sweet buns was limited by law. Their sale was restricted to funerals, Christmas time and the Friday before Easter. There is a long tradition of eating spiced fruit ‘ Arval ’ bread or cake at funerals or the following feast. The feast marked the death was free from any suspicious circumstances and the legal transferal of goods and possessions.

There are lots of superstitions about hot cross buns baked on Good Friday. They are said to cure illness and if hung in a kitchen prevent your house from burning down. They will also ward any evil spirits. If you sail, then a hot cross bun taken on a sea voyage protects against a shipwreck. While I cannot promise any of these things, I can offer you a very simple and tasty recipe should you have a few too many hot cross buns to spare.

Hot Cross Bread and Butter Pudding
If you wish you can add a handful of extra dried fruit to your pudding, raisins, currants, and sultanas.

My Perfect Christmas dinner – sides

My perfect Christmas Dinner – sides

My perfect Christmas Dinner – Sides. A perfect Christmas roast turkey dinner isn’t a perfect Christmas dinner for me without the stuffing, gravy, roast potatoes, and the rest of the sides. Honey roast parsnips, buttered carrots and today’s recipes braised red cabbage, Brussel sprouts and of course cranberry sauce.

My perfect Christmas dinner -Braised Red Cabbage

Braised red cabbage is a beautifully versatile accompaniment to a host of winter dishes pies, casseroles and stews, seasonal roasts such as venison and game birds. You can adjust / experiment with the recipe and adapt it to suit whatever you are serving it with.

My perfect Christmas Dinner – Sides – Braised Red Cabbage
You can experiment and add a large grated cooking apple to your recipe and braise in cider, replace the redcurrent jelly for cranberry sauce or add a small handfully of raisins to the pan at the start of cooking.

Stir Fry Brussel Sprouts

We all love Brussel sprouts and I am sure you will too if you follow this simple recipe.
If you bought your sprouts are on the stalk, twist each one off. Remove any discoloured or damaged leaves. Next, trim the base and cut an larger ones in half. Wash and drain.

My perfect Christmas Dinner – Sides – Brussel Sprouts

Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil and add the Brussel sprouts. Remove after five minutes and plunge into cold, iced water. This stops the brussels over cooking. Drain thoroughly. To serve heat two heaped tablespoons of butter in a large, heavy-bottomed frying pan with a splash of olive oil. Toss the brussels in the pan over a medium-high heat for three to four minutes until thoroughly heated but still a little crunchy. Season well, top with a few toasted flaked almonds and serve.

My perfect Christmas dinner – cranberry sauce

My perfect Christmas Dinner – Sides – Cranberry Sauce

This is my go to recipe for a delicious homemade Cranberry sauce. It may seem quite a lot but it goes just as well a roast chicken or in a cold turkey sandwich.

I promise you will never go back to cranberry sauce from a shop again once you have tried this.

the Perfect Christmas Roast Turkey Dinner

The perfect Christmas roast turkey dinner. Most families in the United Kingdom traditionally sit-down on Christmas afternoon for their festive Christmas Dinner. Today you find the centerpiece is usually a roast Turkey served with stuffing, sausages wrapped in streaky bacon ( pigs in blankets ), crisp roast potatoes, parsnips, Brussel sprouts and lots of other vegetables, and cranberry sauce. This is followed by Christmas pudding and brandy sauce, maybe sherry trifle and mince pies. But how have we got here?

The perfect Christmas roast turkey

A bit of Christmas Dinner history

‘If he is to get on in life, he must get on umbly, Master Copperfield!’ In medieval England, if you were very rich you might have eaten venison for Christmas. Killed in your hunting grounds and the bits or umbles – the heart, lungs, liver, tongue, and kidneys would be chopped, mixed and baked in a pie to be given to the poor. The original [h]umble pie. Down the pecking order ( sorry ) you might find goose or woodcock covered in butter and saffron and roasted. For dessert, you would find frumerty a thick, spiced porridge. This was made with currents and enriched with egg yolks. Alternatively there might be a boiled plum pudding. The ancestor of today’s Christmas pudding made with suet and dried fruit. It would be flavoured with clove, ginger, and cinnamon. Plum is an old term for raisins.

A boar’s head would be the centerpiece of the Christmas feast for a Tudor nobleman. It is believed that the tradition is centuries-old. It came from pagan celebrations of the Norse god of the harvest. If you could not get hold of the highly prized head, you would have a ham which is now a staple of many Christmas meals. Sugar, spices, and nuts were considered highly exotic and very expensive. Highly decorated marzipan sweetmeats were a sign of your wealth and importance.

Gingerbread Men

Christmas Traditions

‘My name is Sherlock Holmes. It is my business to know what other people don’t know.’
During the 17th century, turkeys started to become part of the Christmas feast. Although goose would remain the most popular roast well into the Victorian era. It was common for goose “Clubs” to be set up, allowing working-class families to save up over the year towards buying a goose. Sherlock Holmes solves a tricky case involving the theft of a precious stone the blue carbuncle when it is found in a Christmas club goose.

Gingerbread has an incredibly long history, near to a thousand years. Originally it was often sold in monasteries, pharmacies, and markets. Gingerbread was prized for its supposed medicinal properties and was used to aid digestion. It became so popular its manufacture was highly regulated in Germany and supervised by a guild. The guild lifted the restrictions on who could bake gingerbread at Easter and Christmas. By Victorian times Gingerbread men were baked and hung on the Christmas tree.

A dickens of a christmas

In the 18th and 19th century, Twelfth Night, the fifth of January, was one of the most important dates in the festive calendar. Twelfth Night was the last feast of the Christmas celebrations ( Epiphany ). The centerpiece of the parties, which involved eating, drinking and playing games was a cake. A forerunner to today’s Christmas cake it evolved from an enriched fruit bread to a more familiar fruit cake decorated with almond and sugar pastes. A dried bean was included in the recipe. Whoever found it was crowned ‘Lord of Misrule’ or ‘King of the Bean’ and presided over the festivities.

The perfect Christmas roast turkey dinner

When Queen Victoria came to the throne in 1837, the turkey was still an expensive choice, only for the very rich, for Christmas dinner. A famous Christmas dinner scene appears in Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, where Scrooge sends Bob Cratchit a large turkey. In northern England, roast beef was commonly served on Christmas Day while in London and the south of England, a goose was still the favourite. Those too poor to afford beef or goose made do with rabbit. However, by the end of the 19th century, most people feasted on turkey for Christmas dinner.

Mince Pies

Mincemeat was from Tudor times, when chopped meat mixed with dried fruits, sugar, and spices. This recipe continued right up to the Victorian era when less and less meat was included in the recipe. The mince tart you eat today is filled entirely with dried fruits, sugar, spices, and suet to keep it moist. Most premade mincemeat mixtures now use vegetable fats rather than the traditional suet in keeping with mincemeats origins.

Today’s Recipe

Traditional Roast Turkey Dinner

So today’s recipe is for the Christmas centerpiece a roast turkey. I have memories of my mum getting up at 6am to put the oven to prepare a monster of a turkey for the family. As in popular legend, it did seem that we ate turkey leftovers for days after. You should never put stuffing into a turkey cavity as it will not cook properly and could be a health risk but I do like to stuff the breast end of the bird which helps keep the meat moist. I have included my favourite stuffing recipe.

So today’s recipe is for the Christmas centerpiece a roast turkey. I have memories of my mum getting up at 6 to put the oven to prepare a monster of a turkey for the family. As in popular legend, it did seem that we ate turkey leftovers for days after. You should never put stuffing into a turkey cavity as it will not cook properly and could be a health risk but I do like to stuff the breast end of the bird which helps keep the meat moist. I have included my favourite stuffing recipe.

Start your Christmas Culinary Countdown on Stir up Sunday

Stir up Sunday

Stir up Sunday? Christmas Culinary Countdown? What is that I hear you cry? Well this Sunday is thirty days before Christmas and a week before Advent. Advent, yes the thing with the calendar! Stir up Sunday is a Victorian tradition where the family gathered together to make the Christmas pudding or plum duff. The tradition is believed to originated from families listening to the collect for the day from the Book of Common Prayer for this particular day;

 ‘ Stir up, we beseech thee, O Lord, the wills of thy faithful people;
that they, plenteously bringing forth the fruit of good works,
may of thee be plenteously rewarded; through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Amen. ’

Advent is observed in Christian churches as a time of waiting and preparing for the Nativity.  Advent is derived from the Latin for “coming”. So your pudding is bound in the Christian Christmas tradition. And you thought Advent was all about a calendar with little doors and chocolate. So this special time would seem good enough for me to be the perfect start posting my Christmas recipes.

A Christmas Countdown

I am going to post lots of recipes in the run up to Christmas. A collection of classic dishes and a few unexpected twists in case you don’t like Turkey, so that you will be able to cook up a cracker of a Christmas. In this post you will find lots of ideas for home baking this festive season.

Get your Christmas Bake On

Lets look at a couple of the iconic Christmas recipes the Christmas pudding and the fruit cake. Now you don’t have to be scared or be a baker capable of winning the Great British Bake Off to make a great Christmas pudding or cake. As you will see it is really about preparation and making in advance.

Just click on the dish name for the recipe.

Aunty Mary’s Christmas Pudding

“This recipe is from one of my culinary inspirations my Aunty Mary, a brilliant cook, it really is the best I’ve ever encountered with lots of dried fruits, citrus peel and good soaking in some good beer, and now I work for a brewery how the circle has turned. We used to spend most of the day sorting through the dried raisins and sultanas to make sure there were no small stones in the bags, then they would be left overnight in stout.”

Christmas fruit cake

“For those of you who like to be organised now is an ideal time to start to prepare your Classic Fruit Cake for the festive season and start preparing your Christmas pudding and your mincemeat. This is my go-to recipe for fruitcake, rich and flavoursome enough for a christening or wedding cake or our family Christmas Cake, it is a sufficiently sturdy bake to carry the weight of marzipan and icing and can be used in tiers.”

Sable pastry Christmas cookies
Sable pastry Christmas biscuits

Christmas Biscuits

“My Christmas biscuits or cookies are a definite family favourite. They are great if you want to make something with your children to decorate the Christmas tree. But don’t worry they are very tasty too.”

Mixed Jam Linzer biscuits
Assorted Linzer Biscuits

Linzer Biscuits

Linzer biscuits are made with sable pastry which is cut into rounds and baked. The top biscuit often has a small cut out which allows the jam or fruit preserve to be seen when two biscuits are sandwiched together with jam in between. The finished biscuits are dusted with icing sugar


Biscotti

“Biscotti or cantucci ( most commonly used in Tuscany ) are delicious twice-baked Italian biscuits. They are usually made with almonds. Traditionally they are served with a sweet Italian dessert wine called Vin Santo. You might also find them on the side of a cappuccino or latte. To be honest I’m very happy dipping them in nothing more than a mug of tea. We always make several batches at home, in December, as they are a wonderful handmade small gift at Christmas time.”

Sweet pastry mince pies

Homemade Buttery Mince Pies

“Mince pies are a peculiarly British individual pie now eaten across the English speaking world. They are traditionally served over the Christmas period. Although in America they are more likely to be made in large tart cases and eaten at Thanksgiving. It is thought the name is derived from mince meat and preserved fruit pies first bought back during the crusades. These would have been quite heavily spiced with cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg. “

Classic Christmas Cake

My Classic Fruit Cake Recipe – Crumbs it’s that time of year again!

For those of you who like to be organised now is an ideal time to start to prepare your Classic Fruit Cake for the festive season and start preparing your Christmas pudding, and your mincemeat. This is my go-to recipe for fruitcake, rich and flavoursome enough for a christening or wedding cake or our family Christmas Cake, it is a sufficiently sturdy bake to carry the weight of marzipan and icing and can be used in tiers.

Classic Christmas Cake
Classic rich Fruit Cake

It is a real favourite and we bake at least one a month, it is a great match for a nice crumbly cheese like Wensleydale or Caerphilly. I haven’t specified the dried fruit you can use a mix of raisins, sultanas, currants, cherries, apricots, cranberries, prunes or figs and you can omit the nuts if you prefer and add an extra eighty grams of flour. I use raisins, sultanas, lots of cherries and dried mixed peel.

Christmas Cake.jpg

Classic Fruit Cake

750 gr Mixed Dried Fruit

200 gr Self Raising Flour

250 gr soft Unsalted Butter

250 gr light Brown Sugar

100 gr Ground Almonds

75 gr Flaked Almonds

5 large free-range Eggs

1 tablespoon Black Treacle

1 teaspoon Ground Ginger

1 teaspoon Ground Cinnamon

½ teaspoon Ground Nutmeg

A generous pinch of Ground Cloves

½ teaspoon Baking Powder

1 teaspoon Almond extract

100 ml Brandy, Whisky or Bourbon

Zest and juice of 1 Orange

Zest and juice of 1 Lemon

Buttered, lined, deep twenty-centimeter cake tin

Put the dried fruit, zest and juice and alcohol into a large bowl and leave for twenty-four hours stirring occasionally.

Heat oven to 150C / 300 F / Gas Mark 2. Put a damp cloth onto the work surface and place your largest mixing bowl on top. Add the softened butter, sugar, treacle and almond essence and cream together. Crack the eggs one by one into a small bowl to check they are fresh, then combine and whisk together. Sift the flour, spices and baking powder into another bowl.

Add the egg mix in batches and beat into the butter and sugar mix. Add a couple of tablespoons of flour with each batch to prevent the mix from splitting. When all of the egg is mixed in add the remaining flour and spice mix and fold together until thoroughly combined. Add the soaked fruits and flaked almonds and gently stir together. Tip the cake mix into your prepared cake tin, and tap on the work surface to knock out any pockets of air. Place in the centre of the oven bake for an hour, cover the top with two layers of baking paper and turn the oven down to 140C / 275 F / Gas Mark 1 and cook for around two and a half to three more hours or until a wooden skewer inserted in the cakes centre comes out clean.

Remove the cake from the oven and allow to cool. To feed your cake poke holes in it with a skewer and spoon over tablespoons of your chosen alcohol, wrap in fresh baking paper and tin foil and place in a biscuit tin or plastic tub. Feed the cake with two tablespoons of alcohol every fortnight, until you marzipan it before icing.

Allergens in this recipe are;

  Flour   Milk   Nuts   Eggs Sulphites in the dried fruit

Please see the Allergens Page

Christmas Dinner – Chilled Salmon, Dill, and Cucumber Soup

So, it is coming up to Christmas Day, your planning your festive feast, and you want to have a great, relaxed and stress-free day as possible. Over the next few days I’m going to do my best to help with some top tips, recipes to cover all the essentials and some menu suggestions and I’m thinking of soup, not a thick heart-warming, winter wonder, but something light, delicate and chilled as you need to leave room for all the Turkey, trimmings and the Christmas Pudding. This recipe can be made the day before, keep in the fridge overnight and served straight from the fridge. How is that for easy?

Chilled Salmon Soup

You have probably tried Gazpacho the rich, Spanish blend of tomato, day-old bread and good olive oil or Vichyssoise the classic cold combination of leeks, potatoes, chicken stock and cream, but my recipe today is Chilled Salmon, Dill, and Cucumber Soup. This is a lovely starter for a relaxed festive party or a fabulous light lunch, particularly with a nice glass of chilled Riesling or a crisp, New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc.

If you fancy something different why not try my recipe for creamy Cauliflower Veloute with Cauliflower Pakora and Curry Oil which again can be made a day ahead and reheated or if soup is perhaps a little too filling why not make some delicious Chicken Liver Parfait finished with Brandy and some light crisp Melba Toast.

 Chilled Salmon, Cucumber, and Dill Soup serves 4

Around 400 gr Salmon Fillet, skinned, boned and cut into 3 centimeter cubes

( ask your fishmonger to remove any of the dark flesh from underneath the fillet )

2 large English Cucumbers, peeled

1 bunch of Spring Onions, washed and trimmed, cut into 3 centimeter slices

750 ml quality Fish Stock

150 ml Double Cream

50 ml Pernod or Vermouth

100 gr Butter

60 gr Plain Flour

A good pinch of English Mustard Powder

Juice and zest of 1 Lemon

A handful of fresh Dill

Sea Salt and fresh ground White Pepper

Remove the seeds from the cucumbers and reserve until later, then cut the cucumbers into half centimeter dice. Heat half of the butter in a medium-sized, frying pan and quickly sauté for two minutes. Lightly season and pour on the Pernod and remove from the heat and leave to chill. In a medium-sized pan bring the fish stock to a gentle simmer and remove from the heat. Heat the remaining half of the butter in a large, heavy-bottomed pan and add the spring onions. Cook for five minutes without colouring then add the flour, cook out the flour for two minutes, over a gentle heat, stirring continuously to prevent sticking and browning. Add the hot stock, stirring all the time and bring up to the boil. Turn the heat down and add the salmon pieces, lemon zest, and cucumber seeds. Simmer over the lowest possible heat for fifteen minutes regularly stirring to prevent the soup sticking. Add the cream and cook for two or three more minutes.

When the salmon is poached in the soup base remove from the heat and allow to cool. Add the lemon juice then using a hand blender or food processor blitz the soup. Pass the soup through a very fine sieve into a bowl and stir in the cucumbers and Pernod. Finely chop the dill and add to the soup. Check the seasoning, remembering when chilled the seasoning will be less prominent. Cover and thoroughly chill. Serve in bowls garnished with a little more freshly chopped dill and some smoked salmon pate on toast.

Allergens in this recipe are;

Raw Fish  Milk  Mustard

Please see the Allergens Page

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