Smoking Bishop
A merrier Christmas, Bob, my good fellow, than I have given you for many a year . . . we will discuss your affairs this very afternoon over a bowl of Smoking Bishop

Smoking bishop was a popular Victorian hot punch-style drink, most famous for appearing in Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol. The story closes with a changed and festive Scrooge proposing he and his long-suffering clerk Bob Cratchit sit down together later over a bowl of smoking bishop and discuss a substantial pay rise and improved conditions.

Traditionally, smoking bishop is made from a bottle of claret and a bottle of port: here’s a slightly less inebriating version.

Serves 6

  • 12 cloves
  • 3 medium-large oranges, scrubbed and dried
  • 1 bottle fruity red wine
  • 25g 1(oz) golden caster sugar (not white) or use soft brown
  • 6 allspice berries
  • 2 star-anise
  • 1 vanilla pod
  • 1 glass of port (optional)
  • Plus
  • Extra sugar in reserve if more needed
  • 1 extra orange
  • 1 extra cinnamon stick

Preheat oven to 150C (fan oven) or gas mark 2

Stick the cloves into the oranges, using the point of a knife to help make incisions if necessary.

Roast the oranges in a shallow ceramic or ovenproof glass baking dish for around 1¼ hours until soft.

Transfer the oranges to a large glass or ceramic bowl and cut them open. Spread the sugar over the orange pulp and leave for around 20 minutes then pour over the wine and add the spices.

Cover and leave overnight.

Squeeze the juice from the oranges and strain the liquid into a clean pan. Add the vanilla pod but discard the remaining spices.

Add the port if using and heat gently until hot but not boiling. You should be able to smell the vapours when it’s the right temperature: this is the’ smoking’ part. Taste and add more sugar if necessary.

To serve: add a fresh cinnamon stick and thin slices of orange. Keep warm over a low heat or transfer to a slow cooker on medium setting, turning down to low if it gets too hot. Ladle into mugs or heatproof glasses.