Surrey Street Treats: a Christmas less ordinary

By - Wednesday 17th December, 2014

Jess Bashford celebrates Christmas with some ideas from Croydon’s historic street market

We all know what time of year it is. And we all know what that means – it’s time to eat. So it’s also time to get cooking. With Surrey Street’s winter haul brimming, I thought it would be good to give some of their more ordinary ingredients a Christmas twist: apples and onions.

Now, I’m not a fan of the traditional Christmas pudding so I’m trying out an alternative. For the market’s apples, I’m popping them in a pud. A different choice of warming dessert: my cinnamon and apple cake.

For the market’s onions, I’m showing you one of my favourite things: my Mum’s bread sauce. I love bread sauce at any time of year, but I can’t do Christmas without her traditional accompaniment. So I thought it would be a lovely way to show off some of Surrey Street’s humble onions.

Cinnamon and apple cake: ingredients:

From Surrey Street market: 4 apples. (If you can get cooking apples it would be handy, but it works without them.)

From the kitchen: 8oz butter, 8oz caster sugar, a few drops of vanilla extract, 1 tbsp cinnamon, 4 eggs, 8oz self-raising flour, 300ml double cream, 2 tsp icing sugar, 2 tsp more of cinnamon.


1) Preheat your oven to 200 degrees.

2) I think it’s handy to get your apples ready now. Just peel, core and chop up two and a half of them into smallish, evenly-sized-chunks. (But don’t worry if they aren’t all exactly the same.) Then pop them to one side.

3) Mix your butter, sugar and 1 tbsp cinnamon until they come together and look smooth.

4) Add your vanilla, crack in your eggs and whisk them up all up.

5) Pour in flour and stir everything together.

6) Throw in your apple chunks and fold them through everything.

7) This is your last chance to taste before it goes in the oven. So if you want to add more cinnamon, you can do it now.

8) Line a deep baking tray with baking paper and pour your mix into it.

9) Then stick it in the oven. Because of the juice from the apples, it might take up to 45 minutes to cook through. But it very much depends on your oven and apples. So no matter what you do, keep an eye on it and test that it’s cooked before you take it out. (Take a look at step 9 of my little lemon drizzle cakes recipe to see an easy way to do that.)

10) Once it’s cooked, it’s up to you how you serve it.

You can serve it warm, straight from the oven. I’d serve it with brandy butter, custard or cinnamon cream (which I make for the decoration, below).

Or leave it to cool and decorate it. It could be a Christmas or Boxing Day tea time treat.

How to decorate:

1) Preheat your oven to 160 degrees.

2) Take the 1 and a half apples you have left and chop them into thin slices that are a only few millimetres thick.

3) Separate them out on a baking tray lined with baking paper and pop them in the oven for around 40 minutes. You’re drying them out – so keep an eye on them. You don’t want them to burn.

4) Whip your double cream together with 2 tsps of icing sugar and cinnamon. Keep whisking it until it gets to a consistency you’re happy with. I like mine thick enough that I can spread it over the cake and it doesn’t run down the edges.

5) When your apples are dried out enough for you, leave them to cool.

6) Spread your cinnamon cream over the top of your cake and finish it all off with your dried apple decorations.

My mum’s bread sauce: ingredients

From Surrey Street market: 1 medium-sized onion.

From the kitchen: 3 slices of white bread, ¾ pint of milk, 5 cloves, a splash of olive oil, salt and pepper.

1) Cut the crusts off your bread and turn it into breadcrumbs. (I find it easiest to blitz them with a hand blender.)

2) Chop your onion as finely as you can. Pop it in a microwaveable bowl with your splash of olive oil and microwave it for 2 minutes. Or you can just gently fry it – but don’t let it go brown.

3) Stick your breadcrumbs, cloves, salt and lots of pepper into a saucepan. Then add the milk and onion, put it on the heat and stir.

4) Let everything come to the boil.

5) Leave it to bubble until it’s thickened and looks like a sauce – not breadcrumbs in milk anymore. Once it’s come together, you can leave it to sit for anything up to an hour.

6) Before you’re ready to serve it, you need to go hunting for cloves. Scoop them out of the sauce – an unexpected clove isn’t a nice thing to bite down on.

7) When you want to serve it, just heat it back up. (If it’s got a bit too thick, add a little more milk.) Then pop it into a warm bowl. It’s enough for four greedy people or six people (if they’re happy to share).

All that’s left is to eat your Surrey Street treats. And for me to wish you a very merry Christmas.

Jess Bashford

Jess Bashford

Jess Bashford is a writer at a brand language consultancy and an English literature and creative writing graduate. She’s passionate about showing that Croydon is a great place to live and excited to delve into Croydon’s cultural side. She loves all things wordy and foody.

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