“Stir up, we beseech thee, O Lord, the wills of thy faithful people!” That was once the reading from the Book of Common Prayer in church on this day and it has incited people to also stir up their suet and fruit! Today is Stir-up Sunday, the last Sunday before advent when traditionally the Christmas puddings & mincemeat and now, cakes get made for Christmas. It is a great opportunity to uphold one of the dwindling non-commercial Christmas traditions and all take a turn in stirring the mixture and make a wish.
As ever, I am sticking with Nigella’s Ultimate Christmas Pudding. A few years ago, I splashed out and bought some sterling silver traditional charms to go into my pudding. Health and Safety dictates that you wrap them in greaseproof paper so nobody inadvertently chokes on one. I’ll leave that decision up to you, but I wholeheartedly ignored it. Eat at your peril!
You will need:
150 grams currants
150 grams sultanas
150 grams prunes (cut into pieces)
175 ml sweet sherry
100 grams plain flour
125 grams white breadcrumbs
150 grams suet
150 grams dark muscovado sugar
1 teaspoons cinnamon sticks
¼ ground cloves
1 teaspoons baking powder
1 lemon (zest and juice)
3 medium eggs
1 medium cooking apple (peeled and grated)
2 tablespoons honey
This is for a 3 pint basin.
How to make:
- The currants, sultanas and prunes should ideally be soaked in the sherry for a week previously, or at the least overnight. I use the recommended Pedro Ximenes, which is a dark, treacley sherry, but any sweet sherry is ok. Put the ingredients in a bowl and cover with cling film, or I just pop it all in a Tupperware-type tub which seals tightly and can be knocked without worry.
- Mix all the other ingredients together in a large basin and stir, stir, stir! Stir-up a storm! Don’t forget to make your wishes…
- Add the soaked fruit and every drop of the sherry and combine thoroughly. Then carefully fold in your charms if you use them. (You can always pop them in as you serve if you prefer. Then you know who’s got what and can keep an eye out for untimely choking).
- Scrape all the mixture into your buttered basin(s) and press down firmly. If you use a plastic basin, put on the lid then foil or if a normal pudding basin, take a pleated layer of greaseproof paper and foil and secure tightly to the top with string. Put into a pan on a trivet or suchlike and add boiling water so it comes half way up the basin. Cover and steam for 5 hours, checking fairly often to make sure the water hasn’t boiled dry.
- When it’s done, carefully remove the pudding from the pan and pop it somewhere cool until Christmas. At times like this I wish I had a lovely walk in larder…
- On Christmas Day, re-wrap the pudding and steam again for 3 hours. This year I am going to attempt the warming of some brandy, setting it alight and then pouring it over in the pudding in a flame of glory. Yes, just writing that I raise my own eyebrows at myself. While I still have them and they haven’t gone up in a blaze of glory.
Don’t forget to stick a sprig of holly on the top too. Merry Christmas!