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Stir-up Sunday: What's it all about? Plus a cracking Christmas Pudding recipe

Traditional and vegan and gluten-free alternatives

Stir Up Sunday: What's it all about? Plus a cracking Christmas Pudding recipe

STIR-up Sunday is steeped in Victorian religious tradition and takes place five weeks before Christmas, which this year is on Sunday, November 22.

On the allotted Sunday, the family would get together to 'stir the pudding' in preparation for Christmas. It is said to stem from the opening line of the reading from the Book of Common Prayer, always read on the Sunday before advent, which includes the phrase, ‘stir up, we beseech thee, O Lord, the wills of thy faithful people’.

It seems that the pudding originally contained 13 ingredients - representing Jesus and his disciples - and each member of the family would take a turn stirring the ingredients. As they were stirring - clockwise only, or in other words east to west, signifying the arrival of the three Wise Men - they would make a wish. The sprig of holly on top, when the pudding was served up, is said to have represented the crown of thorns.*

The coins that were traditionally added to the pudding were supposed to bring luck - although biting down on one might not be a good idea...  

*Note: Holly berries are very toxic.

Traditional Christmas pudding recipe (with gluten free option)
Serves 8
The steaming bit takes 6 hours so don't leave it til late in the day

Ingredients
175g currants
175g raisins
175g sultanas
175g shredded suet (gluten free suet is available, although you could just leave it out)
100g fresh white breadcrumbs (or gluten free flour)
100g plain flour* (for gluten free version use 100g ground almonds)
100g demerara or muscovado sugar 
2 eggs
25g glace cherries, chopped
25g chopped mixed peel
1tsp grated lemon rind
40g chopped almonds (in case of nut allergy this ingredient can be left out)
1/2 tsp mixed spice
4tbsp brandy

Method

  • Place the fruit in a bowl and add the brandy - leave to soak for at least an hour (or prepare on Saturday night so it's ready for Stir Up Sunday)
  • Grease and line a 1l pudding basin
  • Put the butter, sugar and lemon rind into a bowl and mix until until light
  • Add the eggs (with a little flour to stop them curdling) and whisk
  • Stir in the brandy-soaked fruit  using a wooden spoon (remember to stir clockwise)
  • Place in the pudding basin and top with a circle of greaseproof paper
  • Cover the bowl with another layer of greaseproof paper and greased cooking foil and secure with string - pleat them in the middle to allow for expansion
  • Steam the pudding in a pan half full of boiling water for six hours - don't forget to top the water up regularly
  • Remove the pudding from the pan, cool, remove the paper and cover with new paper, before storing in a cool dry place

ON CHRISTMAS DAY

Steam the pudding as before for 2-2.5 hours before turning out onto a plate, decorate with holly or some edible berries.

To flame the pudding, warm 3tbsp brandy, pour over the pudding, light it and carry to the table.

Vegan Christmas Pudding

Ingredients

125g dairy-free margarine
375g dried figs
75ml brandy
350g mixed sultanas and raisins
1 large eating apple, peeled and grated
85g light brown soft sugar
85g dark brown soft sugar
100g breadcrumbs
100g self-raising flour
½ tbsp mixed spice

Method

  • Grease and line your pudding bowl 
  • Roughly chop 125g of the figs and set aside
  • Put the remaining figs, the dairy-free margarine and the brandy into a bowl and whisk until as smooth as possible
  • Turn the mixture into a large bowl and add the remaining ingredients, including the chopped figs you put aside, and stir them all together - in a clockwise direction of course
  • Put into your pudding bowl and cover with grease proof paper and foil, tying with string, as above
  • Cover and simmer in a saucepan for about three hours, remembering to top up the water
  • Remove from the pan and leave to cool 
  • Remove the old greaseproof paper and cover with fresh and as above store in a cool dry place

ON CHRISTMAS DAY

Steam the pudding as before for 2-2.5 hours before turning out onto a plate, decorate with holly or some edible berries.

To flame the pudding, warm 3tbsp brandy, pour over the pudding, light it and carry to the table.

If you have a favourite recipe you would like to share, email it to geraldine.gardner@newburynews.co.uk and we'll put it in our food section - don't forget to send us a picture.

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