Victorian Bakers at Christmas

The final instalment of BBC2’s ‘Victorian Bakers’ series airs at 9.30pm on Christmas Day.

The theme of the one-hour programme is past festive products, as the four professional bakers prepare Victorian Christmas recipes.

The broadcaster said ‘Victorian Bakers at Christmas’ features ‘the long-lost centrepiece of British Christmas known as twelfth cake, mince pies with actual meat in them (tripe – and roast beef), surprisingly recent innovations such as Christmas cake, cards, crackers and even Santa Claus, and the strange shapes favoured by some Victorians for their newly named Christmas puddings’.

Historians Alex Langlands and Annie Gray are on hand to fill in the facts behind the transformation of our midwinter break from a 12-day affair with clear Pagan elements which climaxed in early January, to the family-based occasion focused on December 25th which we know today.

Bakers John Swift and Duncan Glendinning go to a country house kitchen to make the giant Yorkshire Christmas pie which Queen Victoria would eat each Christmas, while their colleagues Harpreet Baura and John Foster experience the harsher side of a Victorian Christmas, ‘scraping by on the street’.

The team also makes gingerbread decorations for the then-new custom of the Christmas tree, toasts the season with a punch which includes bread in the recipe, and discovers why the whole community would rely on the bakers’ oven to roast their Christmas lunch.


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