Christmas with a twist of prune, onion, carrots, bay and honey

Baked Ham, ready to enjoy
Baked ham with prune crust, ready to enjoy

It is the most eagerly anticipated foodie day of the year, with dinner plans often being made a year in advance and food preparation beginning weeks ahead.

Christmas time is a time to indulge in fine food and tasty treats such as California prunes, which offer a rich, deep flavour like no other. Ideal as a quick snack or a main ingredient, they are as delicious in sweet dishes as they are in hearty, savoury meals. The versatility and quality of these prunes has attracted celebrity fans including master chocolatier Paul A. Young, BBC’s ‘The Great British Bake Off’ winner Frances Quinn and TV chef Rosemary Shrager.

California Prunes have created three brand new Christmas recipes to celebrate with this season, each offering a unique twist on classic Christmas fare.

Baked Ham with California Prune Glaze

Baked Ham with California Prune Glaze
Baked ham with California prune glaze

Serves 8-10
Prep Time: 15 mins
Cooking Time: 3 hours

100g prune purée
2kg gammon joint (smoked or unsmoked)
1 onion – cut into quarters
1 bay leaf
1 carrot – chopped into quarters
Cold water
10g runny honey.

Place the gammon joint, onion, carrot and bay in a large pot and cover with cold water.

Bring to the boil then reduce to a simmer – cook for 2 1/2 hours. Pre-heat oven to 160.

Remove the gammon joint from the pan (reserve the cooking liquid to be used to make a stock for the freezer!)

Gently remove the string and skin and place the gammon in a roasting dish. Score the fat layer to produce the traditional diamond shape. (Be careful not to cut through to the meat.)

In a bowl mix the prune purée with the honey and spoon it over the gammon joint so that it completely covers the top and sides.

Place in the pre-heated oven for 30 minutes – check after 20 as ovens do vary but remember the ham is cooked through, this is just the glaze process.

California Prune & Pork Pie

California Prune Pork Pie
Prune pork pie straight out of the oven
California prune pork pie ready for the table

Using 18cm Pie Tin


100g California prunes – finely chopped
700g pork loin (cut into small cubes)
200g pork belly (minced up in a food processor)
125g streaky bacon (finely chopped)
2 sprigs of thyme (leaves only – finely chopped)
Pinch of mace
1/2 teaspoon salt and pinch of pepper
4 sheet of gelatine
1 chicken stock cube – made up with 1 pint of boiling water
1 egg (beaten).


520g plain flour
200g lard
200g boiling hot water
1 teaspoon salt.

Make the pastry by mixing the flour and salt in a large bowl.

Pour the water into a saucepan, add the lard and simmer until melted.

Add the water to the flour bit by bit using a wooden spoon until it is cool enough to handle.

Once combined knead gently on a floured surface until smooth.

Wrap in cling film and place in the fridge whilst making the filling.

Chop the pork loin and bacon, mince the pork belly and combine all ingredients.

Remove the pastry once it has been in the fridge for approx 20 mins. Take off about 1/3 for the pie lid.

Wrap this back in cling film and roll out the pastry on a floured surface until it is large enough to fit an 18cm pie tin (should be approx 2mm thick).

Leave a slight overhang around the edges. No need to line the tin.

Once you have lined the pie dish (making sure there are no holes) fill it up to the top with the pork & prune filling.

Roll out the remaining pastry into a circle for the lid – place this on the pie and crimp together the edges.

Brush the top of the pie with the beaten egg and using a knife make a hole in the middle of the top.

Bake in the oven at 170°C for 2 hours.

Dissolve the gelatine leaves in 1 pint of boiling water – along with the chicken stock cube.

Once the pie is out of the oven pour the stock mixture into the pie via the hole on the lid.

California Prune Yule Log

California Prune Yule Log
California prune Yule log
Yule log with a Christmas dusting

Serves 10-12

Prep Time: 30-40 minutes

Cooking Time: 30 minutes
You will need a Swiss roll tin (39cm x 27cm)


8 large eggs – separated
150g caster sugar plus 10g for dusting
75g cocoa powder
25g prune purée


400ml double cream
100g prune purée


100g dark chocolate
150g milk chocolate
300ml double cream
25g icing sugar to decorate

Pre-heat oven to 170.  Whisk together the sugar and egg yolks, then whisk in the prune purée and cocoa powder.

In a separate bowl whisk up the egg whites until a ‘stiff peak’ consistency then fold these into the cake mixture.

Line the Swiss roll tin with parchment paper then pour the mixture evenly into the tin.  Bake in the pre-heated oven for 25-30 minutes.

Place a clean tea towel on a wire rack and line it with parchment paper with the extra 10g of caster sugar sprinkled on top. (This stops the cake from sticking)

Once cooked remove the cake from the tin and turn out onto the wire rack so that the top of the cake is on the sprinkled sugar.  Remove the parchment paper from the underneath.  With the help of the tea towel roll up the cake tightly and allow to cool to room temp.

To make the filling whip the double cream until thick then fold through the prune purée.

Once the cake has cooled down gently unroll it and evenly spread the filling mixture.  Tightly roll it up again and cut off 1/3.  Place the larger piece on the serving dish and position the smaller piece to look like a branch.  Don’t worry if there are any cracks as these will be covered up with icing!

Make the icing by warming up the cream until hot (but don’t bring to the boil) and adding the chocolate until melted.

Spread the icing over the cake and as it is cooling use a fork to make tree bark patterns.

Allow to set and just before serving dust with icing sugar and decorate with holly.

Bruce McMichael

Food writing, discovering food stories, meeting producers, chefs and food enthusiasts are all part of desire to inspire, inform my readers and fellow food lovers. I am a freelance writer, journalist and published author focusing on the international world of food and drink, culture and travel. In 2019 I graduated from the University of Gastronomic Sciences in Pollenzo, Italy with a Masters in Food Culture, Communication and Marketing. I am now a visiting Professor at the university teaching Food & Drink Writing. Based in London I travel widely, particularly across western Europe. I have chaired many conferences and meetings, spoken at conferences and events and often appear on radio and TV talking most about food, the business of food and being an entrepreneur. In 2017 I won an episode of the ITV (the UK-based national television channel) cooking competition show, 'Gordon Ramsay's Culinary Genius'. I took my children on holiday to Sicily with the prize money. As an experienced farmers' market manager and operator of a small marmalade/ preserves company, I am very familiar with the issues surrounding local food, farming, enterprise and the environment.