Christmas Breakfast in a Pot: Flavoursome home-made yoghurt topped with lashings of fresh fruit.




I love Christmas morning breakfast, the warm glow of this special day already ignited with the traditional opening of presents from Santa. This used to happen at about 5am with wide awake youngsters who simply couldn’t contain their excitement a moment longer, and two bleary eyed parents – who secretly couldn’t contain theirs either!  These days its a bit more civilized time wise, but I confess that I miss that cosy family moment – everyone piled into the same warm bed taking it in turns to rip the paper off  Santa’s carelessly wrapped gifts (he has a lot to do so all is forgiven).

Fires lit and Christmas music on we assemble at a reasonable hour to enjoy the first festive meal of the day. Smoked Salmon  with perfectly executed scrambled eggs are a favourite as  is home made yoghurt served with a fresh and exotic fruit salad, warm cinnamon buns and plenty of fresh juice and coffee.

Below I take you through the yoghurt making process using my highly sophisticated yoghurt maker (a box and a blanket), and give you two delicious ideas for fruit salads.  If you prefer cooked fruit then apple, pear and apricot purees work just as well and you could finish these off with a sprinkling of granola.

Making Yoghurt:

Making your own flavoured yoghurt couldn’t be more simple, what’s more it can be prepared several days beforehand. I prepare the yoghurt on the night of the 23rd (day 1), refrigerate it on the 24th (day 2) when I also pre-prepare the fruit compote and leave it to macerate in the syrup. Serve up on 25th as part of a sophisticated, healthy and delicious start to your Christmas day.

 The Yoghurt Maker:

To make your own yoghurt maker you will need:

1 box with a lid, (I use a cardboard hat box but a plastic tidy box with a lid would do just as well).

1 metal baking tray that will fit snugly into the box,

1 old pashmina or baby shawl an extra shawl or small blanket if you have a very big box.

4 x 150ml Kilner Jars for these recipes.


Put the jars or glasses to warm in a plate warmer or on the top plate of the Aga, along with a metal baking tray. You can warm your shawls as well by popping them into the tumble dryer on a wool finish setting.

Home-made Yoghurt

Yoghurt in warm Kilner jars sung on a warm baking tray and covered with a warm blanket.

Cardamom Yoghurt


Makes 4 x 150ml jars or glasses

200ml whole milk (I like to use gold top)

120ml whipping or double cream

1 tablespoon caster sugar (optional)

6 cardamom pods

2 tablespoons full fat live Greek style yoghurt


Put the milk, cream and sugar into a small pan. Lightly crush the cardamom pods and add to the milk and whisk everything together.

Over a moderate heat bring the milk and cream to scalding point and then remove from the heat and cool to blood temperature. This takes about 12-15 minutes and the best indicator is to put a finger in the milk and count to ten – if it’s too hot you won’t get as far as ten, if it’s too cool you will wonder what all the fuss is about so reheat fractionally.

Whisk in the two tablespoon live Greek style yoghurt and strain back into a measuring jug. Pour the liquid yoghurt evenly between the jars or glasses. Cover or clip down the lids.

Make up the yoghurt maker: line the base of the box with paper and drape the shawl around the edges of the box so that you have enough spare to cover the jars. Put in the warmed baking tray and set the jars or glasses on top of it. Cover the pots with the pashmina so that they are nicely nested. Put the lid on the box with a label DO NOT MOVE and leave for three hours or overnight. Miracle – in the morning the yoghurt will be set and you can eat it at once or refrigerate for several days before consuming.

If you have an Aga there is no need for the yoghurt maker – simply leave the yoghurt on a tray on top of the cool hotplate lid. I Usually cover mine with an Aga protector mat.

Click the highlight to discover other methods of homemade yoghurt making .

Fresh fruit salad toppings

 Mango, blueberry and lime:

home-made yoghurt in Kilner jars

Cardamom Yoghurt topped with Mango, blueberry and lime compote



Serves 4

1 ripe mango

150g fresh blueberries

1 lime

1-2 tablespoons caster sugar

Remove the zest from half of the lime with a potato peeler. Remove any white pith and cut the zest into very fine strips. Zest the remaining half on a zester into a small pot, cover and set aside until you are ready to serve.

Juice the lime and stir in 1-2 tablespoon of sugar, the amount depends on how much juice you get and personal sweetness preference. Stir in the strips of lime zest and set aside while you prepare the fruit.

Cut the mango in half along its length. Peel each half and then cut in half lengthwise again. Dice into even pieces and put into a mixing bowl. Mix in the blueberries. Pour over the lime juice and macerating zest strips and mix well. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use – it will keep well over night.

To assemble, spoon the compote over the top of the set yoghurt. Sprinkle with the remaining grated zest and serve. Best at room temperature.

Pineapple, papaya and tarragon

Christmas breakfast ideas

Cardamom Yoghurt topped with fresh pineapple, papaya and tarragon syrup, with scattered pomegranate seeds.


Serves 4

400g fresh pineapple, core removed and flesh diced into small pieces

Fresh ripe papaya or mango diced

2 -3 tablespoons tarragon syrup (see below)

2 tablespoons of pomegranate seeds

grated zest of one lime

Tarragon syrup


100g caster sugar

3 sprigs of fresh tarragon roughly chopped

100ml water


First make the tarragon syrup. Put the sugar into a small pan along with the chopped tarragon sprigs and the water. Over a moderate heat dissolve the sugar. Turn the heat up and gently bubble the syrup until the tarragon is well wilted (3-5 minutes). remove from the heat and cool completely before straining into a jar. The syrup will keep for several weeks in the fridge in a jar.

Prepare the fruit as indicted and put into a bowl. Pour over 2-3 tablespoon of the prepared syrup. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use – it will keep well over night.

To assemble, spoon the compote over the top of the set yoghurt. Sprinkle with the a little grated lime zest and serve. Best at room temperature.



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