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How to Have an Ole Time Christmas: Tradition #2 – Christmas Eve Baking

by Lou-Ann Jordan Dec 17, 2018

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One of the most memorable aspects of any Christmas is the food—more precisely, the aroma of the dishes being prepared. Whether it’s the ham, fruitcake, or bread the delicious whiff fills the house whetting appetites and leaving young and old salivating.

We said: “fills the house” but in generations, past baking was done in the open.  Baking for our great grand and grandmothers was done using an outdoor earthen oven.

Back then, baking was a lively, communal affair.  Villagers came together to partake.  As in most cases few households owned ovens, the villager who owned an oven would invite others in the village over to bake.

Choosing a day in the week before Christmas, the owner would fire up the earthen oven and the villagers would take turns baking their Christmas goodies.  We imagine it must have been a very jolly time.

Now fast forward a generation later and there were the tin and oil-drum ovens.  Though inviting less communal celebrations, it was still a festive time.  Placed outdoors at the front of the house,  these tin ovens sat atop a wood fire.  Once adequately heated, bread and cakes were baked to perfection.

The oil drums differed in that they were cut to allow the fire to burn within.  Also, shelving was creatively incorporated.  And, the delightful smell of baking fruitcakes, black cakes, or bread would tantalise passers-by or neighbours.

Remember, this series is about recreating that traditional Christmas experience.  We couldn’t help you acquire the drum, but we’ve got an old fashion cassava bake recipe you can bake in it.

Here’s a quick recipe, get ready to fire up your oven.  Of course, if you still have an earthen oven or use an oil-drum oven either of those work too.

Cassava Bakes Recipe


2 lbs grated Cassava

1 whole coconut grated

1/3 cup Sugar

2 tsp. salt

1 tsp. nutmeg

1tsp. cinnamon


Clean, grate and strain cassava to remove excess water. Also, grate the coconut.

Mix all ingredients, kneading until smooth and elastic.  Flatten dough and in a greased baking pan place in oven.  Cook until golden brown.

Alternative cooking method – stovetop

To prepare on stovetop, heat a flat pot on the stove.  Place flattened dough in the pot to cook.  Lower the stove to medium temperature and leave to cook until golden brown.  Once cooked, flip to unto the other side, following the same procedure.

We hope you give this tradition a try and have a jolly time doing so.