Put on your apron, get the family together and make a wish on Stir-up Sunday!
Stir-up Sunday is a centuries-old tradition that sees households spending the last Sunday before Advent ‘stirring up’ the Christmas pudding. Dating back to the 1700s Stir-up Sunday became very popular during the Victorian times. This year Stir-up Sunday will be on 24th November so get the whole family together to take turns in stirring the Christmas pudding and make a wish!
The opening words of the Book of Common Prayer, used on the last Sunday before Advent, reads: “Stir up, we beseech thee, O Lord, the wills of thy faithful people,” so as tradition stands this is the day to get stirring. The custom involves the stirring of the Christmas pudding, made in good time so it can mature over the following month.
Today, Stir-up Sunday is a novel way to reconnect with family to make a delicious homemade pudding. The ritual is traditionally laden with small customs that relate to the Christmas story. For example, the pudding is supposed to be stirred from East to West in honour of the wise men who travelled to Bethlehem. It’s also said that there should be a total of 13 ingredients in the dish in order to represent Jesus and his 12 disciples.
Coins or charms were customarily added to the pudding, said to bring good fortune to the eventual recipient of the portion containing it, although this is no longer advised due to safety reasons! The charms included a silver coin for wealth (the most common), a wishbone for luck, a thimble for thrift, a ring for marriage and an anchor to signal safe harbour.
There is no set recipe for a Christmas pudding so here, courtesy of Booths supermarket, is a recipe that adds a totally luxurious twist on an otherwise traditional mixture for your Stir-up Sunday Christmas pudding.
DRIED FRUIT MIX:
• 250g currants
• 250g sultanas
• 100g dried figs, chopped
• 100g glacé cherries, halved
• 100g mixed peel
• 125ml Amaretto
• 150g suet
• 125g demerara sugar
• 75g breadcrumbs
• 1 apple, peeled, cored and roughly grated
• 4 eggs, beaten
• 130g plain flour
• 1/2 tsp baking powder
• 1 tsp mixed spice
• Pinch salt
• 50g ground almonds
• 1 lemon, grated zest
• 50g blanched almonds, roughly chopped
• 25g crystallised ginger, roughly chopped
SWEET AMARETTO SYRUP
• 250ml water
• 150g caster sugar
• 75ml Amaretto
Twenty-four hours in advance add all of the dried fruit to a bowl and pour over the Amaretto. Tightly cover and leave to steep for at least 24hrs, or up to one week.
1. Take a pan large enough to fit your pudding bowl into it and fill with water, three quarters of the way up the side of the pudding bowl. Remove the pudding bowl, lightly grease and set aside. Bring the water to the boil, cover with a lid and simmer until needed.
2. Pop all of the ingredients excluding the steeped fruit and liquor into a mixing bowl and combine well – give it a good stir, they don’t call it Stir-up Sunday for nothing!
3. Add this mixture into the dried fruit and liquor mixture, then stir thoroughly.
4. Once combined, fill the greased pudding dish, packing the mixture in tightly. Cover with a layer of greaseproof paper followed by a layer of foil, adding a pleat into the middle of each to allow the pudding to expand as it cooks. Secure this layer by tying string around the top of bowl to hold them in place.
5. Place the pudding bowl into the simmering pan, ensuring the water doesn’t come higher than three quarters of the way up the bowl, to avoid any water getting into the pudding. Cover and cook for three-and-a-half hours making sure you top up the water level regularly to avoid it boiling dry.
6. Remove the pudding basin carefully as it will be very hot and leave to cool. Remove from the bowl and put into an airtight container and store in a cool, dry place until Christmas Day.
7. On Christmas Day, re steam for two hours in the same way as above and serve with sweet Amaretto syrup.
8. For the syrup, add the water and sugar to a saucepan, bring to the boil and simmer until thickened, add the Amaretto and pour over the hot pudding.