Thursday, 12 November 2015

Christmas Pudding (for Stir-Up Sunday)

Stir-Up Sunday

There are lots of traditions associated with Christmas and sadly it seems that many of them are falling by the wayside. I thought that I would make a small step to revive one of these traditions. It's Stir-Up Sunday.

This was the day when people would mix together the ingredients for their Christmas Puddings. It always falls on the last Sunday before the start of Advent. 

This year that's 22nd November. 

It's done on this date because, as the church-goers amongst you will instantly know, the collect for day in the Book of Common Prayer is:
Stir up, we beseech thee, O Lord, the wills of thy faithful people; that they, plenteously bring forth the fruit of good works...
Presumably people heard the collect in church on that Sunday and, by association of ideas, remembered that the Christmas Pudding needed making.

Of course it's also good to make the Christmas Pudding well before Christmas Day itself to allow the rich and spiced flavours to develop.

Stir-Up Sunday is always seen as a family affair in which every member of the household is supposed to take part in the mixing of the ingredients. Everybody takes it in turn to stir the ingredients during which they make a wish for the year ahead. By tradition everybody should stir the mixture three times in anti-clockwise direction. This represents the three wise men travelling from the East to the West. 


Christmas Pudding Recipe

This is the Christmas Pudding that I make every year. I'd like to say that it was handed down to me from my grandmother and was written out on an ancient piece of paper with copper-plate writing using a fountain pen that I still have in my writing desk. I'd like to say that but I can't because it's not true. I cut it out of the BBC Vegetarian Food magazine years ago and stuck in my recipe scrap book. Anyway, here it is.

Preparation: 30 minutes
Cooking: 8 hours
Serves: 10

Ingredients

100g sultanas
100g raisins
275g currants
25g blanched almonds (chopped)
25g pecan nuts (chopped)
100g butter
100g dark muscavado sugar
2 eggs (lightly beaten)
100g fresh breadcrumbs
175g self-raising flour
1 tbsp mixed spice
1 small cooking apple (peeled, cored and diced into small pieces)
200ml stout
2 tbsp rum or brandy

Also a 1.2litre/2lb pudding bowl

Method

1. In a bowl, mix together the sultanas,raisins, currants, almonds and pecan nuts. In another bowl, cream together the butter and sugar. Gradually add the eggs into the butter/sugar mix. Add this mixture to the fruit and fold together gently.

2. Add the breadcrumbs, flour, spice and apple Mix gently. Add the stout and rum/brandy and mix together.

This is the moment when everybody in your house can stir the ingredients together if they're not helping with the rest of the recipe.

3. Leave in a cool place for at least 12 hours.

4. Lightly grease the pudding bowl and fill with the mixture. Press down and smooth the top with a wooden spoon. Place a piece of greaseproof paper over the top and then a piece of tinfoil. Tie together tightly with a piece of string.

5. Place the pudding in a steamer and steam for 6 hours. You'll have to top up the water occasionally.

6. Remove the pudding and allow to cool. Remove the tinfoil and greaseproof paper. Put the paper in the recycling bin and replace with some fresh greaseproof paper, then put the tinfoil back on top and tie it up again.

7. Keep the pudding bowl in the fridge and leave until Christmas Day.

8. On Christmas Day steam for 3 hours. Carefully transfer to a plate and serve. If you want that classic 'pudding on fire' effect (just how pagan can Chistmas get?) then add four tablespoons of heated brandy and ignite. Make sure the brandy doesn't come from a bottle that been open a long time. The alcohol would more or less disappeared and it won't catch fire.