Smoking Bishop

Image from Eliza Acton’s Cookery Book 1845 – smoking bishop

This is not a post about the demise of Thomas Cranmer during the reign of Mary Tudor – rather it’s another festive drink. This particular beverage retained its popularity into the Victorian period and gets a mention in The Christmas Carol.

It is effectively a mulled port. You will require a bottle of ruby port, an orange stuck with six cloves, sugar to taste and about 1/2 pint of water but that’s optional. Cut the orange in half and place it in the pan with the port and a little sugar. Bring it to simmering point and then set it alight. Allow it to burn for a few seconds. Pour into a punch bowl and dilute with water if you wish.

Apparently in earlier times the fruit might have been roasted to caramelise it and there might also have been red wine as well as the port. A smoking cardinal was made with champagne which seems like a waste of good champagne but that’s only my opinion. The recipe comes from the National Trust Book of Christmas and Festive Recipes.

And why the name? It has been suggested that it was served in Oxford and Cambridge Universities and medieval guilds in a bowl that resembled an upended mitre.

Ebeneezer Scrooge and Bob Cratchit sharing a bowl of smoking bishop.

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