Yorkshire Christmas Pie

Windsor Christmas-pie

A Yorkshire Christmas Pie being served up at Windsor Castle, mid nineteenth century.


After an exceptionally busy year in a new job – and new career for that matter, I have been able to return to my true love! Let it be known that countryhousereader will get the attention it deserves from now on; no more leaving it to the sidelines.

I thought it best to make a comeback with something festive, but also a minor dedication to two of the finest country houses in Yorkshire – Harewood House and Castle Howard. And with confirmation of an official Tour de Yorkshire in 2015, where better to celebrate!

In 2005, and riding on the coat tails of several exhibitions based on archival material which led to interpreting the house in more publicly accessible ways, Send it up Hot was published by the Castle Howard Estate. Similarly, Harewood House was reinventing its Kitchen and servant quarters below stairs after years of restoration. Both houses were establishing an awareness of their immediate surroundings too, and careful research was quickly bringing these architectural gems to different audiences; the sights, sounds and smells of the working country house were suddenly more tangible.

castle howard book

The abundant resources of the Yorkshire countryside made it an attractive purchase in any century to which we turn. The Yorkshire country house owner knew fine well how to promote the wealth of his estate and by turn knew this reflected the identity of the county. The Yorkshire Christmas Pie could be concocted anywhere, but its grandeur easily matches the landscape and bounty of the locality. If anything, its richness is a tribute to the diversity of the county and its heritage.

So, what is a Yorkshire Christmas Pie?

The Yorkshire Christmas Pie was a large game pie stuffed with mainly birds such as pheasant, partridge and turkey inside an elaborate pastry crust. The most quoted recipe is definitely that put together by Hannah Glasse from The Art of Cookery Made Plain and Easy (1747) and included in Castle Howard’s Send it up Hot:

FIRST make a good standing crust, let the wall and bottom be very thick; bone a turkey, a goose, a fowl, a partridge, and a pigeon, Season them all very well, take half an ounce of mace, half an ounce of nutmegs, a quarter of an ounce of cloves, and half an ounce of black-pepper, all beat fine together, two large spoonfuls of salt, and then mix them together. Open the fowls all down the back, and bone them; first the pigeon, then the partridge; cover them; then the fowls then the goose, and then the turkey, which must be large; season them all well first, and lay them in the crust, so as it will look only like a whole turkey; then have a hare ready cased, and wiped with a clean cloth. Cut it to pieces, that is, joint it; season it, and lay it as close as you can on one side; on the other side woodcocks, moor game, and what sort of wild-fowl you can get. Season them well, and lay them close; put at least four pounds of butter into the pie, then lay on your lid, which must be a very thick one, and let it be well baked. It must have a very hot oven, and will take at least four hours. This crust will take a bushel of flour. These pies are often sent to London in a box, as presents; therefore, the walls must be well built.


An example of one of the huge copper pie moulds from the kitchen at Harewood House

Of course these mammoth pies were deliberately magnificent in time for the festive season, but a truly grand present to receive at Christmas, no doubt about that! Merry Christmas to one and all!!

Ivan Day at Harewood Some Christmas Recipes

Only the best at Christmas http://www.smithsonianmag.com/arts-culture/how-to-eat-like-a-king-for-christmas-11475686/?no-ist=&page=1

History of the Yorkshire Christmas Pie http://www.yorkshirelife.co.uk/food-drink/the_history_of_the_yorkshire_christmas_pie_1_3103216

The Christmas Pie http://savoringthepast.net/2012/12/19/the-christmas-pie/

Dining with the Washingtons http://www.mountvernon.org/recipes/yorkshire-christmas-pie

Georgian London and Hannah Glasse’s recipe for Yorkshire Christmas Pie http://georgianlondon.com/post/49461238015/hannahs-yorkshire-christmas-pie

Glasse recipe book https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=dYIEAAAAYAAJ&pg=PA145&lpg=PA145&dq=yorkshire+christmas+pie&source=bl&ots=cy4-_I0_rC&sig=MPQlasx8pS1aDm_xkAlC2fgo6JY&hl=en&sa=X&ei=4veRVPHoLM7tasnngogN&ved=0CE8Q6AEwBzgK#v=onepage&q=yorkshire%20christmas%20pie&f=false


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3 responses to “Yorkshire Christmas Pie

  1. dad

    Any ideas on how to disguise a bushel of flour I’ll be carrying from the car?The peasants round here are great curtain twitchers!

  2. Pingback: Yorkshire Christmas pie | The History Jar

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