Stir-Up Sunday is traditionally the day that Christmas Puddings are made - which gives them plenty of time for them to mature before Christmas Day. The whole family gets together to help stir the mixture - children included.
If you're making your own, we have all the Christmas pudding bowls you could need - in plastic, stoneware, and stainless steel, and sizes from individual to feed-the-family (and the neighbours!).
110g shredded suet (use gluten-free or vegetarian suet, if required)
110g white breadcrumbs (use gluten-free breadcrumbs, if required)
1 level teaspoon ground mixed spice
¼ level teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
good pinch ground cinnamon
225g soft dark brown sugar
25g whole candied peel, finely chopped
25g whole almonds chopped (can leave skin on)
1 small cooking apple cored and finely chopped (no need to peel)
grated zest ½ large navel orange
grated zest ½ large lemon
2 tablespoons rum
150ml stout (replace with sherry for a gluten-free pudding)
2 large eggs
50g self-raising flour, sifted (use gluten-free flour, if required – add 3 pinches baking powder)
You will also need
2 pint (1.2 litre) pudding basin, lightly greased
Baking parchment, foil and string
Traditional or fan-type steamer
Begin the day before you want to steam the pudding.
Take your largest mixing bowl and start by putting in the suet and breadcrumbs, spices and sugar. Mix these ingredients together very thoroughly, then gradually mix in all the dried fruit, peel and nuts followed by the apple and the grated orange and lemon zests.
Tip: Tick everything off the ingredients list as you go, to make sure nothing gets left out.
Next in a smaller basin, measure out the rum and stout, then add the eggs and beat these together thoroughly.
Next pour this over all the other ingredients and begin to mix very thoroughly. It’s traditional to gather all the family round, especially the children, and invite everyone to have a really good stir of the pudding and make a wish!
The mixture should have a fairly sloppy consistency – that is, it should fall instantly from the spoon when this is tapped on the side of the bowl. If you think it needs a bit more liquid add a spot more stout.
Cover the bowl and leave overnight.
Next day stir in the sifted flour quite thoroughly. Then pack the mixture into the lightly greased basin, cover it with a double layer of baking parchment and a sheet of foil, and tie it securely with string (you really need to borrow someone’s finger for this!).
It’s also a good idea to tie a piece of string across the top to make a handle. Place the pudding in a steamer set over a saucepan filled with simmering water and steam the pudding for 8 hours.
Do make sure you keep a regular eye on the water underneath and top it up with boiling water straight from the kettle about halfway through the time. When the pudding is steamed, let it get quite cold, then remove the baking parchment and foil and replace them with some fresh ones, again making a string handle for easy manoeuvring.
Now your Christmas pudding is ready for Christmas Day. Keep it in a cool place away from the light. Under the bed in an unheated bedroom is an ideal place.
On Christmas Day
Fill a saucepan quite full with boiling water, put it on the heat and, when it comes back to the boil, place a steamer on top of the pan and turn it down to a gentle simmer. Put the Christmas Pudding in the steamer cover and leave to steam for 2hrs 15 mins. You'll need to check the water from time to time and maybe top it up a bit.
When you are ready to serve the pudding, remove from the steamer and take off the wrapping. Slide a palette knife all around the pudding and turn it out on to a warmed plate. Place a suitably sized sprig of holly on top, if you like.
To flame the pudding, warm a small amount of brandy in a saucepan. As soon as the brandy is hot, scoop out a ladleful of it and rest the base of the ladle on the top of the pudding. Ask someone to set light to the brandy using a long match, and when you’ve reached the table, pour the flaming brandy over the pudding to cheers from your dinner guests!
Serve the pudding with traditional Brandy Butter, Rum Sauce, cream, custard, ice-cream – whatever you prefer! It is Christmas, after all…
Leftovers can be reheated, wrapped in foil, in the oven.
To make two smaller puddings, use two 570ml basins but steam for the same amount of time.
To make individual Christmas puddings for gifts, this quantity fills eight 175ml pudding basins. Steam for 3 hours, then resteam for 1 hour before serving. They look pretty wrapped in baking parchment and muslin, and tied with bows and tags.