Liam Charles won over “The Great British Bake Off”
judges earlier this year with
distinctive flavour combinations and conceptual bakes.
Business Insider spoke to Charles about cooking at
The baker said that Christmas “is the time to eat
whatever you want” — even if that’s burgers instead of
Rather than being pressured into seasonal traditions
you don’t enjoy, create your own traditions by putting a
festive spin on your favourite comfort foods.
Christmas is a time for family, friends, and tradition. It’s also
a time for food.
Many people feel the pressure to cook a full roast dinner for
their family on Christmas Day, despite it being a time-consuming
and stressful way to spend the holiday.
However, there are plenty of other options to explore with
skipping a festive-inspired spread altogether, according to Liam
Charles, the “Great British Bake Off” contestant who arguably
became the biggest star of the show’s 2017 season despite placing
Rather than getting swept up in traditions you don’t enjoy,
Charles believes that you should concentrate on the foods you
like to eat instead, as well as the traditions that make you
comfortable and happy — even if that means scrapping the sprouts
and roasted turkey for something less time-consuming.
“Christmas is one of those times where you can just be as
creative as you want, so just do whatever you want,” Charles
said. “You can have burgers for Christmas if that’s
what you want.”
Give your favourite foods a seasonal makeover
Cutting out tiresome traditions doesn’t necessarily mean cutting
out the Christmas cheer. All of your favourite foods can be made
seasonal with a little bit of creativity, according to Charles,
who wowed “Great British Bake Off” judges with his creative
approaches to baking including a cake disguised as a stack of
The 20-year-old recently turned a full Christmas dinner into a
savoury “cupcake” made out of a turkey and bacon pie topped with
mashed potato “icing,” cranberry sauce, and seasonal veg.
He thinks Christmas is the perfect time to get creative and
rustle up something special.
“One year I made mince pie doughnuts, which were great,” he told
Business Insider. “And another time I combined [apple and herb]
stuffing with an apple pie we were having for dessert. The
stuffing went so crispy, it was like a herby, apple crumble pie.”
He added that if you don’t mind the cold weather, you can even
opt for a Christmas BBQ.
“Make your own turkey burgers with cranberry sauce and cheese.
You could also make some festive chips — parboil parsnips,
carrots, and potatoes, then fry them into chips. Serve them up
with ketchup, mayonnaise, barbecue [sauce] — whatever you fancy.”
Charles recently created mince
pie cheesecakes in conjunction with Sony, inspired by
his love of mince pies as well as his mum’s love of cheesecake.
“I have a massive love for cheesecake, and that was one of the
bakes I first got introduced to because my mum loves cheesecake,”
he said. “I absolutely love mince pies as well, and I thought,
‘Why not combine these two things together?'”
You can see him make his miniature cheesecakes — with
cranberry and chocolate-studded shortbread base and ripples of
mincemeat — here:
Traditions aren’t one-size-fits-all
Every family has its own Christmas traditions and rituals which
vary hugely from house to house.
“Christmas traditions are pretty important for me,” said Charles,
whose idea of a perfect Christmas is a table full of roasted
meats and an apple strudel.
“All of [my family] go to my nan’s house, and she makes a massive
spread with every single type of meat you can imagine. There are
board games, Bailey’s, and there’s always an apple strudel,” he
But traditions aren’t one-size-fits-all. For Charles, traditions
don’t equivalate to having what everyone else around
the country is having for their dinner, too.
Instead, the 20-year-old baker thinks the best traditions are the
ones your family invents themselves. Macaroni cheese has slowly
wormed its way into his own family’s traditions, and now he can’t
imagine Christmas without it.
“My nan cooks most of the dinner, and my sister brings the
macaroni cheese, so we have that, too,” he said.
And not all of his favourite traditions are about the food on the
plates — he mostly values the time he gets to spend with his
family, including his young nephews.
“I’d say the most important thing for me is when all the family
get together to have dinner because there are [plenty of] times
where we don’t get to see each other throughout the year, but
Christmas is always the time everyone makes an effort to get
together to socialise and enjoy each other’s company.”