Mary Berry's Highland Christmas [Credit: BBC Rumpus Media Mark Mainz]
Mary Berry's Highland Christmas [Credit: BBC Rumpus Media Mark Mainz]


NATIONAL treasure Dame Mary Berry is returning to her roots in Bonnie Scotland for a Christmas TV special.

Travelling through the Highlands on the ultimate winter break, the Queen of cakes serves up a decadent festive feast in her new BBC programme, Mary Berry’s Highland Christmas.

Throughout the 60-minute special, the acclaimed food writer, cook and former Great British Bake Off judge makes an array of beautiful, indulgent dishes – some of which are Mary’s own favourite Christmas recipes, while others are steeped in Scottish tradition.

These sweet and savoury treats promise to be the perfect accompaniment for upcoming Christmas celebrations. What’s more, they won’t break the bank.

Mary Berry’s Highland Christmas is unlike any of her previous festive television programmes. This time, it is extra special as she reflects on Scotland – her mother’s homeland – and happy memories of her time spent in Old Alba.

Mary Berry embarks on a Highland odyssey. [Credit: BBC/Rumpus Media/Mark Mainz]

Speaking of her upcoming show, Mary says: ‘Well, it’s really rather exciting. I’ve been meeting different celebrities who have Scottish ties and I’ve been cooking some delicious Scottish recipes, and it’s all things that you might like to serve over the Christmas time, during the holidays, two special desserts, main courses to feed family and friends and even perhaps when I do fondue, it might be jolly nice to have on New Year’s Eve.’

Mary embarks on adventures throughout the country, meeting famous faces along the way. Among them are comedian Iain Stirling (who joins Mary to meet a reindeer herd) and singer-songwriter Emeli Sandé (who makes a classic Buche de Noel under Mary’s watchful eye). Mary also makes a luxurious pitstop at Cromlix, tennis superstar Andy’s Murray’s hotel:

‘Andy Murray has a stunning hotel in Dunblane, and his granny makes the shortbread that is served in the hotel which was delicious,’ says Mary. ‘They were so lovely to be with, Granny Shirley and I are the same age and so we could keep Andy in line and help him learn to cook.

‘He was nervous, as he doesn’t cook at home but he did really very well. I made a kedgeree because you often have smoked haddock in Scotland and kedgeree is very popular everywhere. Whilst it might not be seen as Christmassy, I would serve kedgeree on Christmas Eve because traditionally fish is often served on Christmas Eve and it’s a lighter alternative to meat.’

Mary Berry with tennis superstar Andy Murray at Cromlix Hotel in Dunblane. [Credit: BBC/Rumpus Media/Mark Mainz]

The culinary highlights during Mary’s Highland odyssey come thick and fast. A cranachan wreath, an indulgent cheese fondue, Scottish salmon canapés and mulled wine shared with a local ceilidh dance group are but a few. Mary does, however, still have a firm favourite:

‘Oh, I think it certainly was the Highland beef pie. In Scotland they use different cuts of meat and so we used shin of beef and made it into a wonderful tender, full flavoured pie, with pickled walnuts and a lovely pastry on top. I actually served it the other day at home when we had Sunday lunch guests, I thought I’m not going to do a roast, so I made the Highland beef pie and everybody absolutely loved it.’

A decadent cheese fondue features on the show. [Credit: BBC/Rumpus Media/Mark Mainz]

But this journey is as much about the spectacular backdrop as it is about the food and the people that call Scotland home: ‘Oh I’ve loved it, we have had some wonderful adventures in different parts of Scotland and into the Highlands,’ says Mary, who particularly enjoyed her first ever trip on the Jacobite Steam Train.

‘We have had this cold weather that we’re having but everybody is hardy in Scotland, you just dress for it. I’ve wrapped up and I’ve enjoyed being outside. It’s a get up and go attitude in Scotland, taking full advantage of the amazing scenery. Which has been stunning, we have had blue skies and cold days but have loved every second.’

Commenting on how she hopes audiences will feel after watching her programme, Mary adds: ‘I want them to take away the warmth of Scotland. The show is all about lovely warming dishes and an emphasis on family and including the traditions and the delicious food of Scotland.

‘People will really feel the warmth from the whole programme, and in the past, I have made recipes just for the couple of days over Christmas, while these can in fact, be enjoyed at anytime.’

Dame Mary Berry will be returning to our screens on Mary Berry’s Highland Christmas, produced by Rumpus Media, on BBC One and BBC iPlayer on 13 December at 9pm.