Christmas Present, Christmas Past

Oil Paintings by M-J de Mesterton

My Christmas Cakes, 2010 and 2016–Always White with Royal Icingelegant_cook_christmas_cake_copyright_m-j_de_mesterton



M-J’s Classic Christmas Cookies

I have been enjoying these festive shortbread biscuits since I was a child. 

One half-pound of butter

Two and a half cups of flour

One cup of powdered sugar

One tablespoon of milk (full-fat, of course)

One teaspoon of vanilla (imitation vanilla is just as good as the real thing)

One egg yolk mixed with two tablespoons of cream (to brush on top, as a base for sprinkles–adds nice flavour, believe it or not)
If you are going to use icing and a piping bag to decorate these Christmas cookies, skip this.


The ingredients, except for the egg yolk and cream, are mixed together and rolled out to a quarter (1/4) inch thickness. Then cookie-cutters are employed; the things are brushed with egg yolk/cream and sprinkled with coloured sugar. Sometimes I prefer to decorate the cookies with Swedish pärlsokker, or white pearl sugar. Transfer the cut-out cookies to an upside-down cookie-sheet and bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes.


M-J de Mesterton  


christmas_pinkie_wye_valley_goodiesWye Valley Specialities for Christmastide from Our Dear Friend Peter King






Ideals Christmas Magazine, 1947



Christmas Recipe: Povitica, or Walnut Roll

pavatitsapotica My mother, Lorraine, wrote and published this recipe in her book, The Pasty of the Copper Country. I have written my own interpretation of the recipe here:


Dough for Six Twelve-inch Loaves:

2 packages of active dry yeast

1 tablespoon salt

1/2 cup of warm water

1/2 cup of soft butter

2 cups of scalded milk

4 egg yolks, beaten slightly

1 cup granulated sugar

About 9 cups of sifted flour (I prefer unbleached, white flour)

Dissolve the yeast in warm water.

Combine scalded milk, sugar, salt, and butter. Cool until lukewarm. Stir slightly beaten egg yolks into yeast mixture. Add 4 cups of flour, mixing thoroughly. Add the remaining flour one cup at a time, forming a stiff but not sticky ball of dough. Knead the dough until it is soft, light and smooth. Place it in a greased or buttered bowl. Cover with a tea towel and let dough rise in a warm place for an hour and a half, or until doubled in bulk.

Walnut Filling for Six Twelve-Inch Loaves

1 lb. finely ground walnuts

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 cup of cream or half & half

1/4 cup of butter

1 1/2 cups of granulated, white sugar

1/2 cup of bread crumbs

1 teaspoon of salt

4 egg whites, stiffly beaten

Process walnuts until they’re finely ground. Heat cream in a large saucepan until almost boiling. Pour this cream into a large mixing bowl. Add the butter and let it melt. Mix the walnuts, sugar, salt and vanilla bread crumbs into the hot cream and butter. Then, gently fold your stiffly beaten egg whites into the walnut mixture. Divide the risen dough into six equal parts; do not knead. With a rolling pin, flatten each piece into a large rectangle. Spread thickly with the walnut filling. Roll this jelly-roll style, pulling the dough thinner as you go along, so that the filling will be thick between the dough layers. Twist the ends of loaves to seal them. Place loaves on greased cookie sheets (or, use French bread loaf pans). Let the loaves rise in a warm place for an hour. Bake them in a 375* oven until lightly browned. After cooling for 15 minutes, remove loaves from the pans. and butter the tops of them lightly. Povitica (also spelled “pavatitsa”, “pavateca”, potica, and povatica) may be wrapped and frozen. Copyright M-J de Mesterton, Elegant Survival, December 2008