While we’re sure you already have your meat on order and have a list of things to get ready for Christmas next month, we feel obliged to let you know that it is almost Stir Up Sunday – the prime time for making your Christmas Pudding.
Stir Up Sunday takes place on the last Sunday before Advent, which this year falls on 21st November. It is a tradition that dates back centuries and was created to help households remember to make their Christmas Pudding ready for the big day and was often a family event. We all know that a mature Christmas Pudding tastes better, like a fine wine or a good cheese, so making it a month in advance is the best way to guarantee a satisfying end to your Christmas dinner.
For those that aren’t in the know, here is the lowdown on Stir Up Sunday.
- It was popularised in Victorian times, but records show that we were making Christmas Puddings as far back as the 1700s!
- The name is believed to come from the Book of Common Prayer which features the phrase “Stir Up, we beseech thee”.
- While recipes differ from household to household, the tradition says that you are meant to stir a Christmas Pudding from east to west to signify the way the Wise Men travelled. So, always stir it anti clockwise.
- Traditional recipes also say that there should be 13 ingredients to represent Jesus and his 12 disciples. While we can put what we want in our puddings, the main ingredients include: dried fruit, sugar, suet, breadcrumbs, citrus juice, peel, flour, spices, eggs, milk and brandy.
- Setting fire to the pudding also has a grounding in religion. It is thought that the fire signifies Jesus’ love and power. Even the decoration has a religious context – adding a sprig of holly represents the crown of thorns that Jesus wore to his crucifixion.
- Back in the day, when making your pudding you would put a silver coin in there which would then be unearthed on Christmas Day and was said to bring luck to whoever found it. Other traditions included hiding a button or thimble or sometimes even a ring. This isn’t done so much these days – it’s a choking hazard after all!
Interested in making your own Christmas Pudding this Stir Up Sunday? Here’s an easy recipe for you!
225g caster sugar
225g suet (use vegetarian suet if catering for non meat eaters)
110g candied peel, chopped
110g plain flour
110g white breadcrumbs
55g flaked almonds
Zest of 1 lemon
5 eggs, beaten
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp mixed spice
1 tsp nutmeg
- Start by lightly greasing your pudding basin
- Mix together the dry ingredients and then stir in the beaten eggs and brandy.
- Spoon the mix into the basins. Put a circle of baking parchment and foil over the top and tie securely with string, making a handle so you can easily remove it from the pot after cooking.
- In a large steamer, boil water. When the water is boiling, place the pudding basin in the water and cover with a lid. Boil for 5-6 hours, topping up the water from time to time if necessary. If you don’t have a steamer, you can put an upside down side plate in a large saucepan and place the basin on the top. Pour in bowling water so it comes a third of the way up the sides of the basin. Cover and steam as before.
- Once steamed, cool the puddings and then change the parchment and foil for fresh. Secure with string and store in a cool place until Christmas Day.
- When ready to serve, steam for 2 hours and then serve.