Twas the first of December, when all through the house not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse. I crept out into the early-morning darkness, past the holly and the ivy growing on my fence, for I was on a very special mission.
As you know, my love of scones runs deep but, for one month a year, I turn my pastry-primed palate to another baked beauty. You see, all I want for Christmas is a delicious mince pie.
It was a cold start and I caught sight of a bright red nose reflected in the gloom as I opened the car door – I really must lay off the wine. I set my satnav for Callander and Mhor Bread, a little bakery where I was sure to get my festive fix.
The bakery, which has a cosy tearoom next door, has a distinctly traditionally feel, all aged wood and simple décor, and the baking really stands out.
The cabinets are full of incredible creations – dark chocolate tortes, apple pies, rhubarb pies, cheesecakes. And there, gleaming on a shelf by the window, I spy it. A mince pie. Not just one mince pie, but hundreds, all packed up like presents under the tree, ready to be snapped up.
I was ushered into the bustling tearoom and shown to a seat in the corner. The place was packed – good tidings indeed.
My mind was on the mince pie but I thought it would be rude not to try out some of the menu. It all looked good and I was tempted by the open sandwiches as well as the sourdough toast and salad for which the tearoom has a top reputation.
However, for reasons unbeknown to even me, I decide to have the skin-on potato wedges. Perhaps I thought that having a side portion was a good way of leaving room for the pastry.
If that was my plan, it didn’t work because the wedges were so good – soft, creamy potato with a crispy salted skin – I couldn’t stop eating them.
I also ordered a coffee and a scone – old habits die hard apparently. The scone was fantastic. I don’t know how they did it, but the bakers made a scone that almost tasted healthy. That’s something I could use more of in my life, for sure.
What I did next probably wasn’t so healthy, as I ordered not one but two pastries from the bakery. A chocolate orange torte and apple pie. The torte had a rich, buttery dark chocolate top and an orange jelly filling with flecks of fruit through it, all contained in Mhor’s signature shortcrust pasty. The mini apple was perfectly sweet without that bitter tang that has put many a lesser pastry on the naughty list.
As I was quickly approaching a sugar-induced coma, I ordered my mince pies to go – six expertly made confections decorated with Christmas trees and snowflakes. They were magnificent. The pastry was buttery and crumbly, but not so much that they fell apart. The filling, spicy and zesty with a good kick of brandy.
The bakers at Mhor Bread are truly bringing joy to the world and are definitely on my nice list this Christmas.
Friendly, efficient and without needless fuss. 8/10
Callander is the gateway to the Highlands, so perfect if you’re on a day trip. 9/10
Buttery and crumbly with good spices and a kick of brandy. 10/10