Stir Up Sunday & Christmas Pudding

Deriving from the opening words of the collect for the last Sunday before advent (26 November in 2006) which begins ‘Stir-up, we beseech thee, O Lord, the wills of thy faithful people’, Stir Up Sunday is the traditional day for making your Christmas Pudding. Originating in the 14th century, Christmas Pudding started life as a fasting meal in preparation for the festivities. Ingredients then included frumenty (a kind of porridge), mutton, beef, wine, spices and dried fruit. By the 17th century it had evolved into something closer to what we would recognise today and George I’s love of it established it as part of the Christmas meal. However, it was the Victorians that honed the recipe and the tradition into what we know today.

There are several rather heart-warming traditions that go along with the making of a Christmas pudding, all based on the family and the true meaning of Christmas. Rather heart-warming I think. These traditions include:

The pudding should be made from 13 different ingredients to represent Jesus and his 12 disciples.
Each member of the family should take a turn in stirring the pudding and making a wish.
In honour of the Three Kings, the pudding should be stirred from east to west.
The Victorians also introduced the tradition of including silver charms (always a bit risky I thought) including a coin to bring worldly wealth a ring for marriage and a thimble for a life of blessedness.

This traditional Victorian recipe is the one used for our own family Christmas dinner and is delivered to the table as a huge fireball by my Official Taster who is usually minus his eyebrows!

Ingredients - Makes 2 x 2 pint (1 litre) round mould puddings or 2 x 2pt (1 litre) basin puddings

8oz (225g) plain flour 8oz (225g) sultanas
1 teaspoon ground ginger 8oz (225g) currants
1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg 8oz (225g) seedless raisins
1 teaspoon ground mixed spice ¼ teaspoon ground mace
4oz (100g) whole candied peel, roughly chopped ¼ teaspoon salt
5oz glacé cherries, roughly chopped 3 medium eggs, beaten
5oz (150g) white breadcrumbs 9oz (250g) vegetable suet
Grated rind and juice of 1 orange 10oz (275g) molasses sugar
1 apple, cored and roughly chopped 2oz (50g) blanched almonds, roughly chopped
Grated rind of 1 lemon 2oz (50g) walnut pieces
8 tablespoons brandy or barley wine  


  1. Thoroughly grease 2 x 2 pint (1 litre) round puddings moulds or 2 x 2pt (1 litre) pudding basins.
  2. Sift flour, spices and salt into a large mixing bowl. Stir in the breadcrumbs, suet and molasses sugar until evenly mixed.
  3. Add all remaining ingredients and stir well to form a rich, sticky, but not wet, mixture.
  4. For the round puddings: position the moulds on their stands and spoon in all the mixture to form a dome above the rim of the mould. Use your hands to shape a dome, place dome of mould on top and clip in place.
  5. For the basin puddings: Spoon the mixture equally into the two basins and level the top.
  6. Cover with a circle of greaseproof paper and top with a small circle of foil, both folded with a one inch pleat in the centre. Secure with string and make a loop for easy removal from the saucepan.
  7. To cook put the puddings in a large saucepan that allows a 1 inch (2.5cm) gap around the sides of the basin or mould. If using a basin stand on an upturned saucer or trivet.
  8. Add boiling water to two thirds of the way up the side of the mould or basin. Cover the saucepan with a close fitting lid or double thickness of foil. Simmer the round pudding for 6 hours and the basin pudding for 4 hours topping up with extra boiling water as required.
  9. Leave pudding to cool. Round pudding: remove from the mould and wrap in greaseproof paper and foil. Basin pudding: replace the greaseproof paper and foil covering. Store all puddings in a cool, airy place.
  10. To reheat on Christmas day steam in the same way for 2 hours.


Christmas Pudding
Christmas Spices
Dried Fruit