Six of the best Christmas cakes with cheese from Yorkshire
PUBLISHED: 12:37 04 December 2012 | UPDATED: 13:50 06 August 2018
He just doesn't understand us, but Tony Greenway is willing to learn and so we are ready to forgive him
Don’t get me wrong. I love Christmas cake and I love cheese – just not together.
You’ll have to excuse me, but being from London originally I’m still trying to get a handle on some of Yorkshire’s stranger traditions. I mean Christmas cake and cheese? What’s that all about? It’s just plain wrong.
You’ll be trying scones and pilchards together next. Still, because I’m married to a Yorkshire woman (although, sensibly in my view, she doesn’t eat Christmas cake and cheese either), I realise that it’s a pairing that’s as Yorkshire as Sheffield and steel, Cathy and Heathcliff and Wallace and Gromit (they’re from Lancashire, aren’t they? — Ed).
So here are my nominees for the six best Christmas cakes in the county — and you can get cracking cheese to go with them at a few of these places, too, if you must.
Home Farm Beningbrough
A superb farm shop/deli in the grounds of Beningbrough Hall near York (note: you don’t have visit the hall to use Home Farm because the shop is on the exit road — so access is easy). There are delicious cakes from award-winning baker Hazel and that includes Christmas cakes for sale and on order. While you’re here, what about that excellent cheese counter? Go on, I know you want to. 01904 470562
There’s nothing nicer than a homemade Christmas cake — and they don’t get more ‘home made’ than the ones at Country Markets. This is great British baking at its best, and those who have stalls at Country Markets adhere to strict statutory requirements — so producing for a Country Market is a serious business. There are over 350 Country Markets across England, Wales and the Channel Islands and Yorkshire has some excellent ones including Knaresborough, Otley and Northallerton. Go to the website to find out more.
Lewis and Cooper
Everyone knows Lewis and Cooper in Northallerton and its surroundings. It’s been a fixture since 1899 and it has a shop in Yarm. Its Christmas goodies are, frankly, heavenly and its handmade luxury iced fruitcake is seriously good. There’s also a fabulous cheese counter. So what do you say to a nice bit of Wensleydale to go with that cake?
Harrogate Cake Company
The splendid Harrogate Cake Company was first established 40 years ago under the family name of Mrs Bainbridge. Heather Cawthorne, the owner, tells me her iced Christmas cakes are made to order but that the HCC’s celebration fruitcakes are available in-store (now) because they have been left to mature ‘for a rich, distinctive depth of flavour’ (so you can always buy one of those and marzipan and ice it yourself). They are made with local ingredients and readily available in different sizes.
I suppose it’s eye-rollingly obvious that Bettys is a good place to go for cakes. The fact is, though, that any cake from Bettys Craft Bakery in Harrogate is first a treat and secondly hard to stop eating until it’s all gone. Beat that, Paul Hollywood.
A family-run business in Shipley, established in 1985, which won a 2-Gold Star Great Taste Award for its traditional British favourite fruit cake earlier in the year: Landlord’s Fruit Cake, made with Timothy Taylor’s Championship Landlord bitter. Their Christmas cakes are handmade with a full bottle of Landlord bitter in each cake; it’s also made with butter, lashings of vine fruits, black treacle and mixed spice.