‘Victorian Bakers at Christmas’ follows on from the successful 3-part ‘Victorian Bakers’ show that aired on BBC2 in January. Now the same four Bakers are back to find out how the festive season changed when Queen Victoria came to the throne in 1837 and how, over her long-reign, customs and celebrations emerged that we now regard as a traditional British Christmas.
The four bakers, John Swift, whose family have been bakers in the Midlands for six generations; Duncan Glendinning, an artisan baker from Bath; John Foster, whose industrial bakery in Barnsley is turning out 400,000 mince pies this year; and Harpreet Baura, a high-end cake baker from London, took up residency in the Victorian Bakery at Blists Hill Victorian Town near Ironbridge and were set a number of festive baking challenges from the mid-19th century when Twelfth Night was the big day, not 25 December.
The traditional bakes tackled in the one-hour show include a Twelfth Cake, a spiced, yeasted fruit cake that dates from mediaeval times and was the centrepiece of rowdy Twelfth night celebrations; two kinds of mince pies, both using real beef mincemeat; and an impressive Yorkshire Christmas Pie, an enormous game pie stuffed to the gunnels with pheasant, partridge and turkey encased in an elaborate pastry crust. The Bakers also made gingerbread decorations for the then-new custom of the Christmas tree, cooked up a seasonal punch with bread in the recipe, and discovered why the whole community would rely on the bakers' oven to roast their Christmas lunch.
As well as using the Victorian Town’s Bakery as the setting for the programme’s Bakehouse, the show will also feature two cottages, the Duke of Sutherland Cottage and the Tollhouse, as the setting for a Christmas dinner celebration and Twelfth Night party.
‘Victorian Bakers at Christmas’ is scheduled to air on Christmas Day on BBC2 at 9.30pm and will be repeated on Boxing Day. BBC shows are also available for 30 days on iPlayer.
Images: (c) Joe Sarah/Wall to Wall