Cooking with Richard Hughes Step-by-step

A sprinkling of icing sugar and the mincemeat meringue pie from Richard Hughes is ready for your Chr

A sprinkling of icing sugar and the mincemeat meringue pie from Richard Hughes is ready for your Christmas table - Credit: Archant

Mixing up a couple of festive favourites brings a new twist to a traditional Christmas treat, from Richard Hughes of The Lavender House in Brundall

There are certain foods that are synonymous with certain times of year. In fact, I’d go so far as to lobby for a law that said you could only eat strawberries in June and July, crabs the same time, your first lobster on FA Cup final day, pancakes on Pancake Day (now that’s a tough call), and mince pies in December.

The difficulty is I adore all of those foods, and the argument that the infrequency of consumption only adds to the anticipation and flavour is a difficult one to square. I can eat plate after plate of mince pies during the festive run-up - indeed, they become the staple staff meal for kitchen and restaurant staff in most mid-market hotels!

It comes to us all, and I’m finally trying to modify my diet of sweets, cake and ice lollies, so the powers that be, that have my best interests at heart, will ensure I’m rationed this year. However I’ve come up with a cunning plan . . . take two of your cravings and turn them into one serving!

One of my mantras in the kitchen is “There’s nothing new in food”, and if someone tells you they have invented a new dish, don’t eat it. But even I surprised myself last year by mixing the mincemeat with spices, wrapping it in puff pastry and ensuring it resembled my all-time favourite, the Eccles cake. Yes, I am the proud inventor of the Mickle’s Cake, two treats in one mouthful! Never one to miss an opportunity here’s another stellar combo for you, a mincemeat tart with a meringue topping. It’s delicious and will look a treat as a dessert for your Christmas evening dinner.

As ever, this Christmas Day will see all hands on deck and eyes on the ovens as we cook and serve on one of the busiest services of the year. Many customers are sad at the thought of us working away, but there’s no need for sympathy, we absolutely love the day. Everyone is in an amazing mood, even the poor lad charged with washing up hundreds of plates and polishing dozens of glasses. Hopefully we will all be home for teatime - let’s hope there’s some of this pie left for the workers!

Richard Hughes is chef proprietor of The Lavender House at Brundall and the Richard Hughes Cookery School. he is also director of

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