Start today if you want to make your own pudding this year (Picture: Getty Images)
Today is Stir-up Sunday, which means it’s a good time to make your Christmas pudding and let it mature before the big day.
Many people have taken up baking this year thanks to lockdown so if you’re used to picking up your pud in the supermarket, this might be the perfect chance to make your own instead.
It might look tricky but it’s hard to go wrong with this type of baking and it will be very forgiving of any mistakes.
What is Stir-up Sunday?
Stir-up Sunday is a Victorian-era tradition, which falls on the last Sunday before Advent every year.
Although your advent calendar might start on December 1 every year, Advent officially begins four Sundays before Christmas Day, so it starts on 29 November this year.
That means Stir-up Sunday is always five Sundays before Christmas Day and the date changes slightly every year.
Families gather in their kitchen (of course, coronavirus means it can only be whoever is already in your household bubble in 2020) to put the ingredients together.
Each member of the family takes a turn to mix the pudding, stirring from East to West to honour the three wise men who visited Jesus in Bethlehem.
It’s also a good chance to make up mincemeat for mince pies and bake your Christmas cake if you want to bake those too.
Do you have to make your Christmas pudding ahead of time?
While many Christmas pudding recipes require you to make it ahead of time, there are lots of recipes you can make just before the day.
Baking weeks before means you have time to mature the pudding, feeding it with alcohol, but if you’re busy or don’t want to make it today, it doesn’t mean you have to give up on the idea.
Try this last-minute Christmas pudding recipe if you’ve left it too late for a traditional one.
How to make a Christmas pudding
This traditional recipe from Waitrose uses lots of fruit and your choice of alcohol for maturing it.
Lots of dried fruit goes into a Christmas pudding (Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto)
- 75g pack semi-dried cherries
- 2 x 75g packs dried cranberries
- 150g raisins
- 150g sultanas
- Finely grated zest and juice of 1 orange
- ½ tsp freshly grated nutmeg
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp ground mixed spice
- 200ml stout
- 2 tbsp brandy, rum or Madeira, plus 75-100ml for serving
- ½ x 250g pack Atora Light Vegetable Suet
- 50g self-raising flour
- 100g fresh breadcrumbs
- 1 medium Bramley apple, peeled, cored and grated
- 225g dark brown soft sugar
- 2 large eggs, beaten
- Place the dried fruit, orange zest and juice, spices, stout and brandy, rum or Madeira in a large bowl. Mix well, then cover with a clean tea towel and leave to stand in a cool place for at least six hours, or preferably overnight.
- Once the fruit has plumped up, stir in the remaining ingredients and mix thoroughly. Transfer to a lightly greased 1.2-litre pudding basin or heatproof bowl, packing it down well to ensure it all fits and there are no gaps.
- Cut two squares of baking parchment, about 20cm wider than the basin, then cut a piece of foil about the same size. Place the parchment squares on top of the foil, then fold the three layers in half. Fold one side back, making a crease about 2cm from the first fold, to make a pleat. This allows room for the pudding to expand during cooking. Place on top of the basin, foil side up.
- Take a long length of string, fold it in half and wrap it around the basin to secure the parchment and foil. Thread the ends of the string through the loop, then pull tight and knot to secure. Use the excess string to make a handle across the centre of the bowl for lifting. Place a trivet or heatproof plate in the bottom of a large pan. Place the pudding on top, then carefully pour boiling water into the pan to reach about halfway up the side of the basin. Cover the pan with a tight-fitting lid and bring the water to the boil. Reduce the heat and steam for six hours.
- Check the water level regularly, topping up with boiling water as required. After six hours, turn off the heat and leave the pudding to cool completely. Use the string to lift it from the pan, then wipe down the outside of the bowl, undo the string and remove the foil and parchment. Cover the basin with a new layer of baking parchment, foil and string, then store in a cool, dark place for up to two months, until required.
- To reheat, steam as directed above for two hours or remove the foil and heat in the microwave (850W) for about five minutes. To serve, remove all foil and paper. Run a flat-bladed knife around the outside of the pudding and invert onto a serving plate.
- To flambe, gently warm the brandy in a small pan, taking care not to allow it to boil as it may burst into flames. Transfer into a warmed jug and pour over the pudding. Carefully light the brandy with a lit taper. Once the flames have died down, cut into wedges and serve with your choice of brandy butter, brandy cream, fresh custard or cream.
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