It’s a long-standing family tradition for so many people, but if you’ve never done Stir-up Sunday, it can be quite daunting to know where to start.
Taking place on the last Sunday before Advent, it’s widely seen as the beginning of the festive season – this is the time to make your Christmas pudding, so the flavours can mature for December 25th. The Cinnamon Collection’s executive chef Vivek Singh calls it “a great opportunity for families to get together and try something different, as well as kick off the festive celebrations in style.”
If you’re looking to impress on Christmas day with a homemade pudding, Stir-up Sunday is the time to crack on – and these are just some of the things newbies might want to keep in mind…
It’s all about preparation
If you want your pudding to have a festive kick, make sure you soak the fruit in alcohol beforehand. Singh says he soaks his for months (“in LOTS of alcohol”) – although he does say in warning: “The first thing we’re quite careful about is to not take a light anywhere close to the fruits, as they’d just light up.”
On the day, make sure you have “all the ingredients you need to make the pudding, and have a reliable recipe to follow”.
What comes next is also vital, Singh says: “I suggest cooling down the puddings completely, and then leaving in a cool dry place in the basins itself with a lid on until ready to eat.”
Get involved with the traditions
Stir-up Sunday is full of quirky customs and rules – such as the mixture being stirred from east to west, to signify the Wise Men’s journey in the nativity.
Singh’s favourite tradition is all about getting the whole family involved. “Don’t forget that it’s customary for each member of the family to make a wish as they take it in turns to stir the pudding mixture,” he says.
Try not to overwork the mixture
Nothing is worse than a Christmas pud that tastes like rubber. If you want yours to be as light as possible, his advice is simple: “Take care not to overwork the mix.”
Give it your own spin
While Christmas pudding recipes tend to be quite similar and classic, that doesn’t mean you can’t mix things up a bit.
“We infuse our Christmas pudding with The Cinnamon Club’s house-made warm, fragrant spice blend of garam masala, which brings additional layers of flavour as well as a welcome kick,” says Singh. “Don’t be afraid to mix and match to experiment with your favourite spices and create a pudding that’s just right for you.”
Easy Christmas pudding recipe
Christine Hayes, editor-in-chief of BBC Good Food says: “The anticipation of being able to celebrate together this year means there is added joy to putting on a Christmas playlist, mulling some wine, and spending a day in the kitchen on Stir-up Sunday baking ahead for Christmas.”
This recipe for Christmas pudding is so simple, you don’t even need to use scales for it…
1 cup raisins
1 cup sultanas
1 cup self-raising flour
1 cup finely grated butter (about 115g/4oz)
1 cup fresh brown breadcrumbs (from around 4 thick slices of bread)
1 cup light muscovado sugar
1 cup mixed nuts, chopped plus extra to decorate
1tsp ground cinnamon
1tsp ground mixed spice
1 cup milk
1 large egg
Butter, for greasing
For the butterscotch sauce:
100g light muscovado sugar
200ml double cream
1tsp vanilla extract
1. For the pudding, empty the first six cups and the nuts, if using, into a mixing bowl with the spices, then stir in the milk and egg. Once well combined, tip into a buttered one and a half litre pudding bowl.
2. Cover with a double layer of buttered foil, making a pleat in the centre to allow the pudding to rise. Tie the foil securely with string, then place in a steamer or large pan containing enough gently simmering water to come halfway up the sides of the bowl. Steam, covered with a lid, for two and a half hours. Check the water level during cooking, topping up if necessary. If you are preparing this pudding ahead, remove the foil, let it cool slightly, then wrap in cling film and then fresh foil. If you are serving it immediately, unwrap and invert onto a deep plate.
3. For the sauce, put everything in a pan and bring slowly to the boil, stirring. Allow to bubble away for two to three minutes, still stirring, until the sugar has dissolved and the sauce is pale caramel in colour and slightly thickened. Remove from the heat. Pour the sauce over the pudding and decorate with the whole mixed nuts.
The pudding can be made two to three weeks in advance and frozen in the bowl – thaw it completely before reheating. It can also be made up to three days in advance and refrigerated. Just make sure you bring it to room temperature for an hour or so before reheating. The sauce can also be made a day ahead and kept in the fridge – simply reheat it in a small pan over a low heat. To reheat the pudding, cover with fresh foil and steam for one and a half hours, or cover with cling film and microwave on high for seven minutes.