[scrummy review + recipe] Nadiya’s Bake Me a Festive Story by Nadiya Hussain and Clair Rossiter

Ho, Ho, Ho, jingle jangle jingle – what better way to rustle up a little holiday spirit than with a brand new Nadiya Hussain story-cookbook!

If you’re a fan of The Great British Baking Show/Great British Bake-Off, you know Nadiya as the GBBO Series 6 winner (2015). Ever since then, Nadiya has been racing full steam ahead as an author, columnist, and television presenter, while remaining a devoted mum to her three children.

So far, she’s published two adult cookbooks, one contemporary novel, and now, two children’s story-cookbooks. You may remember when I featured Nadiya’s Bake Me a Story last Fall and baked her Very Berry Breakfast Muffins. I was excited to learn she had published a second children’s book, Nadiya’s Bake Me a Festive Story, which was just released in early October.

Nadiya once again celebrates her love of storytelling and cooking, but this time her focus is on what matters most about the holidays: caring, giving, sharing, family, joy and fun.

You’ll find 13 stories, a blend of original tales and classic fairy tales with a contemporary twist, all told in Nadiya’s lively, somewhat quirky, chatty style (love the Britishisms). For the foods mentioned in the stories, she’s created 30 sweet and savory recipes. I was happy to see that this time she also included three narrative poems, delectable rhymers that are a sheer delight to read aloud.



Have you ever hung out your wet laundry
And wondered where one sock has gone?
You know there were two to begin with
When you switched the washing machine on.

You see, there’s a very big secret
That all of your socks surely know,
They keep it hush-hush from their owners:
That place where the other socks go.


I’d never heard the expression “cheesy feet” before — is that the same as “stinky feet”? No matter, it’s all in good fun as we learn the “other socks” eventually return as “stockings that ROCK!” And then we’re invited to make our own Cheesy Feet Biscuits — a savory cookie we can top with Red Pepper Dip, grated cheddar, olives, chives, or whatever suits our fancy.

After this sole-ful beginning, we are treated to a platter of heartwarming tales that show how food can be magical, comforting, and uplifting, as it strengthens familial bonds and friendships, and helps foster community.


Read about 8-year-old Mabel in “The Little Tealight Girl,” who’s facing her first Christmas without her beloved Nanna, then whip up a batch of Turkey and Spinach Pancakes (Nanna always served them for Christmas breakfast); or tag along with cold-weather-loving Jako Frost, who helps his Scottish grandmother create a little “indoor snow” with clouds of icing sugar and fluffy meringue (live the experience by making Oopsie Doopsie Snow Bread and Queen of Puddings).

Nadiya’s Nutcracker spin-off features Polly, who, while up late anticipating her Uncle Sid’s visit the next day, accidentally breaks her Dad’s nutcracker, only to witness a bit of holiday magic involving her toy soldiers, mice and peg dolls. Enjoy some Dippy Chocolate Biscuits like the ones Polly had with her Dad, then enjoy the Nut Roast with Roasted Tomato Sauce they shared with Uncle Sid.

My fave story is probably “The Elves and the Choux Maker,” which showcases Nadiya’s off-the-wall imagination and kooky sense of humor. Imagine a bunch of baffled elves with choux buns on their feet (I live for this type of thing)! When you’re through giggling, that warm fuzzy feeling comes over you with the story’s theme of kindness and doing for others.

Just like Nadiya’s first story-cookbook, Bake Me a Festive Story features Clair Rossiter’s thoroughly charming illustrations, a blend of her whimsical paintings and actual photos of Nadiya and her children (Musa, Dawud, Maryam) in oodles of fun poses. Why not ski over a pan of Doughnut Bread and Butter Pudding, perch atop a string of Nutty Lime Biscotti, or dip your socks in a giant dish of Red Pepper Dip? So cleverly done and brimming with unabashed joy, each page is a special treat. Looks like they had a ball posing for the photos and you can’t help but feel the love. Festivity is infectious!



Is there anything I didn’t like about the book? I would have appreciated an index of recipes (the Table of Contents only lists story titles), and having the recipe measurements be in US/Imperial as well as Metrics. But hey, here’s an opportunity to take out your trusty kitchen scale and look up conversion tables on the web (good math practice). πŸ™‚

Nadiya’s Bake Me a Festive Story will get families reading, cooking, and laughing together, a very good thing during what can often be a hectic, stressful time of year.

Okay, time to eat.



This sweet recipe goes with Nadiya’s story “Benji’s Basket,” which is about a young gymnastics-loving boy who helps his mum grocery shop each Thursday afternoon for three elderly residents of a retirement home.

When they arrive at the retirement home, their friends Cora, Tim and Phyllis greet them as usual and hand over their shopping lists, which are the same every week. Once they get to the grocery store, Benji’s mum suggests they play a little game with the lists to make things more fun. She’d call out a name and a number from the list, and Benji would guess the item and go find it.

But for some strange reason, there are different items on the lists this time. Instead of bananas, Cora listed nutmeg. Instead of his usual milk, Tim asked for tinned peaches. Puzzled, they finish the “strange” shopping lists and return to the home, where Cora, Tim, and Phyllis mysteriously make excuses not to have tea and biscuits with them like they usually do.

But the following Thursday, Benji and his mum are pleasantly surprised to see that their friends have baked a special cake to thank them for all they do. That’s why they needed all those odd items on their shopping lists! Since they know Benji loves doing handstands, they baked an upside-down cake. πŸ™‚

Despite my objections, Mr Cornelius and some of the Alphabet Soup kitchen helpers insisted on baking this upside-down cake while doing headstands and handstands, making it extra tricky to measure and stir ingredients. Luckily I took charge of the situation by keeping myself (mostly) right side up.:D

This is a dense cake made with polenta (cornmeal), a little flour, butter, honey, eggs, and lemon. After greasing your cake tin, you line the bottom with peaches and dried cherries before adding the batter. The recipe calls for “medium eggs, lightly beaten,” but didn’t specify how many (copy editor napping). I used 2 large eggs, but think 3 medium eggs would work just as well.

Baking time (at 325 degrees/gas mark 3) was specified as one hour and fifteen minutes. I took the cake out after 55 minutes and it was done (45 minutes would have probably been enough in my oven). After letting the cake cool a few minutes, I then drizzled the cake with a mixture of lemon juice, syrup from the tinned peaches, and caster sugar.

Just like Nadiya’s Very-Berry Breakfast Muffins, this cake isn’t as sweet as typical American cakes. Cornmeal cakes and muffins also tend to have a drier crumb. Soaking the cake with the drizzle adds some moisture — and I would recommend eating the cake with the yummy Vanilla Custard. Can’t swallow anything while standing on your head, though. Enjoy. πŸ˜€

Peach and Cherry Upside-Down Cake

  • Servings: 10-12
  • Difficulty: average
  • Print


For the cake:

  • 200g tinned sliced peaches, drained (keep the syrup for the drizzle) *I used a 15-oz can.
  • 50g (2 oz) dried sour cherries
  • 220g/1-3/4 cups polenta (yellow or white cornmeal)
  • 80g/3/4 cup plain flour, sifted
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 200g/14 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 140g/6-7 tablespoons runny honey
  • grated zest of 1 lemon (use the juice for the drizzle)
  • 3 medium eggs, lightly beaten

For the drizzle:

  • 75g/6T caster sugar
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • syrup from the tinned peaches


Preheat the oven to 150Β°C/gas mark 3/325Β°F. Grease the base of a 900g loaf tin and line with baking paper.

Line the base of the tin with peaches, one by one, until it is completely covered. Place cherries in the gaps until you have used them all up.

Mix the polenta, flour, baking soda and nutmeg in a small bowl.

In a separate large bowl, beat the butter and honey until light and fluffy. Add the lemon zest and eggs and mix together.

Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and give it all a really good stir.

Pour the mixture into the tin, on top of the peaches and cherries. Bake for about an hour. Check the cake for doneness by inserting a skewer into the middle.

Remove from the oven, let cool for a few minutes, then spoon over the drizzle. Cool in the tin for at least 30 minutes before turning the cake out. Serve with warm vanilla custard.

Jama’s tips:

Check the cake for doneness with your skewer after 40 minutes.

For best results, use a kitchen scale that measures grams. The Imperial measurements I’ve listed here are approximate, since direct conversions are not possible for certain ingredients.

You can make your own caster sugar by pulsing granulated sugar in a blender or food processor about ten times.

~ Adapted from Nadiya’s Bake Me a Festive Story (Hodder Children’s Books, 2017), as posted at Jama’s Alphabet Soup.


Vanilla Custard

  • Servings: 12
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print


  • 3 large egg yolks
  • 4 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 25g/2 tablespoons caster sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 600ml/2-1/2 cups whole milk


Whisk the egg yolks, cornstarch, sugar and vanilla in a bowl until combined.

Put the milk in a medium pan over a medium heat.

Before the milk reaches boiling point, pour it slowly over the egg mixture, making sure you whisk the whole time.

Once all the milk is added, pour the mixture back into the pan over a low heat.

Keep stirring until the mixture thickens. You will know it is ready when it coats the back of your spoon.

Take off the heat, pour into a jug and it is ready to serve.

~ adapted from Nadiya’s Bake Me a Festive Story by Nadiya Hussain (Hodder Children’s Books, 2017), as posted at Jama’s Alphabet Soup.



written by Nadiya Hussain
illustrated by Clair Rossiter
published by Hodder Children’s Books, October 2017
Storybook-Cookbook for ages 5+, 160 pp.






This post is being linked to Beth Fish Read’s Weekend Cooking, where all are invited to share their food-related posts. Don your best aprons and bibs and join us!

Copyright Β© 2017 Jama Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All rights reserved.

25 thoughts on “[scrummy review + recipe] Nadiya’s Bake Me a Festive Story by Nadiya Hussain and Clair Rossiter

  1. I’m not as excited about the recipes, except for the upside-down cake, as to SEE this delightful book. The illustrations are darling! And I like the idea of the naming, very cute-“Oopsie Doopsie Snow Bread” for example. Thanks, Jama!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, I love how Clair illustrated both this book and the first one. Such fun to read through the stories — very enjoyable even if you never make a single recipe. I do own many cookbooks which I just read and don’t cook from — mostly the illustrated ones.


    1. I love the illustrations/photos in this book. I like cornbread too but it was a little weird eating a “cake” made with cornmeal. Odd that the number of eggs was omitted from the recipe. I think even 3 large eggs would have been okay.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Love the sock story! I want to make that cake! You may find it hard to believe but I watched my very first Great British Bake Off show just last night. I think I’m hooked!


  3. It’s always fun to find out what the terrifically creative Nadia is doing! Very fun post.

    Thanks… from mae at maefood.blogspot.com


  4. Your posts are always so creative, and such good fun. A favorite, not so sweet cake of mine is Mario’s Olive oil Rosemary dessert. Happy Holidays!


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