Stir-up Sunday

There’s nothing nicer than a homemade Christmas pudding.  And there is nothing more fun than children getting involved in making it. Dating back to Victorian times in Britain, stir-up Sunday falls on the last Sunday before advent (the last Sunday of November). If you have never made a Christmas pudding, why not have a go this year?  You’ve got plenty of time between now and Sunday 26th November to gather all your ingredients and gather the children, if you have any, and make a wonderful Christmas pud!

Here’s a classic Christmas recipe to get you started.

  • 50g blanched almond
  • 2 large Bramley cooking apples
  • 200g box candied peel (in large pieces) or all citron if you can find it
  • 1 whole nutmeg(you’ll use three quarters of it)
  • 1kg raisins
  • 140g plain flour
  • 100g soft fresh white breadcrumb
  • 100g light muscovado sugar, crumbled if it looks lumpy
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 tbsp brandyor cognac, plus extra to flame
  • 250g packet butter, taken straight from the fridge

For the brandy and ginger butter

  • 175g unsalted butter, softened
  • grated zest of half an orange
  • 5 tbsp icing sugar
  • 4 tbsp brandyor cognac
  • 2 pieces of stem ginger, finely chopped

Method

  1. Get everything prepared. Chop the almonds coarsely. Peel, core and chop the apples. Sharpen your knife and chop the candied peel. (You can chop the almonds and apples in a food processor, but the peel must be done by hand.) Grate three quarters of the nutmeg (sounds a lot but it’s correct). Mix all the ingredients for the pudding, except the butter, in a large bowl.
  2. Holding the butter in its wrapper, grate a quarter of it into the bowl, then stir everything together. Repeat until all the butter is grated, then stir for 3-4 minutes – the mixture is ready when it subsides slightly after each stir. Ask the family to stir too, and get everyone to make a wish.
  3. Generously butter two 1.2 litre/ 2 pint bowls and put a disc of greaseproof paper in the bottom of each. Pack in the pudding mixture. Cover with a double layer of greaseproof paper or baking parchment, pleating it to allow for expansion, then tie with string (keep the paper in place with a rubber band while tying). Trim off any excess paper.
  4. Now stand each bowl on a large sheet of foil and bring the edges up over the top, then put another sheet of foil over the top and bring it down underneath to make a double package (this makes the puddings watertight). Tie with more string, and make a handle for easy lifting in and out of the pan. Watch a video to see how to tie up a pudding correctly.
  5. Boil or oven steam the puddings for 8 hours, topping up with water as necessary. Remove from the pans and leave to cool overnight. When cold, discard the messy wrappings and re-wrap in spanking new greaseproof or baking parchment, foil and string. Store in a cool, dry place until Christmas.
  6. To make the brandy butter, cream the butter with the orange zest and sugar. Gradually beat in the brandy or cognac and chopped ginger. Put in a small bowl, fork the top attractively and put in the fridge to set. The butter will keep for a week in the fridge, or it can be frozen for up to 6 weeks.
  7. On Christmas Day, boil or oven steam for 1 hour. Unwrap and turn out. To flame, warm 3-4 tbsp brandy in a small pan, pour it over the pudding and set light to it.

Recipe from Good Food Vegetarian Christmas, December 2006

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