Stir-up Sunday is an old tradition where people spend the last Sunday before advent ‘stirring up’ their Christmas pudding. This ‘stir up’ Sunday always falls in November giving the Christmas pudding enough time to mature, develop the flavours and deepen the colours.
It’s a great way to start getting festive in the kitchen and also involving the family to get the pudding going with everyone taking turns to stir the pudding mixture. So if you are planning to make the Christmas pudding then its time to gather up all the dried fruit, brandy and the spices needed. This dark sticky pudding marks the finale of the vast Christmas dinner.
You can choose whichever dried fruit you want to put in the pudding but the combination I have used here is good and balanced. Also traditionally suet is used in this pudding and these days you can find vegetarian versions of the suet. But I am going a step away from tradition and using butter instead, which of course is my personal choice so if you want to stick with suet then do go for it. The recipe that follows is simple and straightforward with simply mixing everything in a bowl and giving it a good stir. Then follows the steaming, which is key to a good pudding, too short a time and the pudding will be pale, too long and it would go bitter.
This Christmas I am teaming up with Sainsbury’s to bring you a classic Christmas pudding with dark, rich fruit and an amazing combination of the spices which is heightened with the use of fresh fruits like apples and oranges. The zest and juice of orange goes deliciously well with the spices and apple adds the needed moisture to the pudding.
175 gms sultanas
175 gms raisins
50 gms dried apricots, chopped into small pieces
75 ml brandy
50 gms glace ginger
50 gms glace cherry, chopped into small pieces
50 gms mixed peel
175 gms light brown soft sugar
125 gms grated unsalted butter
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 bramley cooking apple, grated
1 large orange, zest and juice
100 gms self raising flour
175 gms fresh white bread crumbs
1 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp ground cinnamon
This mixture will make you one large pudding or 2 small ones. Grease 2 x 1 litre pudding basins with some butter. Each pudding will serve 8.
Soak the sultanas, raisins and apricots in the brandy overnight.
In a large bowl mix all the ingredients together and also add the brandy soaked fruit to this mix. Stir it well making sure all the spices are mixed through.
Put the mixture into the 2 greased pudding basins. Cut a greaseproof paper and make a little pleat in the centre to allow the pudding to expand. Place this tightly on the pudding basin and tie it firmly with a thread. Cover this with a crinkled piece of foil making sure its waterproof.
To steam the pudding, take a large pan with a lid and fill it with enough water that covers half the pudding basin. Use a small upturned plate to place the pudding basin on. Bring it to a boil, cover the pan with the lid and steam for 3½ to 4 hours. Make sure to check in between to see if there is enough water and top it when needed. You will need 2 pans for the 2 puddings.
When ready, remove it from the pan and leave it aside.
If you are planning to make your Christmas pudding this stir up Sunday then let it cool completely after steaming. Remove the paper and foil and replace it with fresh baking parchment, tie it up and leave it in a cool, dark place. On Christmas day, re-steam the pudding for 1 to 2 hours, turn out and flame with brandy.