Stir Up We Beseech You

So last weekend was “Stir up Sunday” which has become a new zerowaste tradition in our house.

Last Year's stir up

Last Year’s stir up

I’m a massive Christmas pudding fan. Massive fan as in I occasionally have dreams and cravings for figgy pudding in June when sitting in the sun eating an ice cream.  Summer is obviously the top season but winter gets all the best foods.

I love Christmas pudding despite hating fruit cake in all its forms and occasionally crying if I find a raison in my delicious scone or rum truffle. I can only assume this is because Xmas puddings don’t try to hide their raisins. Dried fruit is fab but I don’t want it sneaking into my food unannounced. I believe that cake is not cake when it has stealth sultanas trying to freak you out. Now, pass me an eccles cake and let me enjoy my raisins right where I can see them.

As a child of the 80s I thought puddings came packaged in plastic from M&S.  This image wasn’t helped by the fact my family still talk about the year my mum made a white Christmas pudding. Well, my dad talks about it, my brother and sister groan and my mum refuses to talk about it. An event that happened over 40 years ago is still raw for her so, by the time I was born, my mum had decided never to make a pudding ever again.  Until last year I only had vague notions that it was possible to create something as wonderous as a Christmas pudding yourself.   If I thought about it rationally I probably assumed that constructing a pudding would be an impossible task only to be attempted by the brave… and Mary Berry.

But last year I heard about Stir up Sunday and I fell in love. With churchgoers prompted to go home and get baking by the annual collect read in church.  It was all so twee it made my heart sing plus it was a legitimate way to get into the Christmas spirit early.

I’ve always been a fan of rationing Christmas to make it more exciting and avoid the consumer burnout that comes with jingle bells ringing in shops before Halloween. So no mince pies or mulled wine allowed  before advent and decorations can’t go up until after my sister’s birthday on the 12th. I obviously can’t break my own rules but “Stir up Sunday” gives me a perfect outlet for Christmas excitement in November!  Bonus.

Get your bowls out

Get your bowls out

Last year Chris and I decided to make up some family traditions to surround Stir up Sunday which include playing Harry Belefonte at full volume dancing round the kitchen to “Jump in the Line” while constructing the pudding, whipping my brother into a similar Stir up Sunday fever and engaging in some serious sibling oneupmanship.  We spent the week before swapping recipes ideas and then texted each other competitive photos of our efforts along with cute pics of my neices covered in sugar and incriminating pics of me emptying bottles of whisky into bowls.  Pete, a massive Jamie disciple stuck to Jamie’s Nan’s recipe and I made one up loosely based on about 4 recipes found online.  Despite totally overloading it with whisky (which later turned out to be quite special and probably massively expensive and perhaps not quite the most sensible move I’ve ever made but definitely the most delicious) our pudding was totally lush.  I don’t know what Pete thinks but I know I won that particular sibling battle.

The enthusiasm hasn’t dimmed a year later and last Saturday I got a text from my brother filled with exclaimation marks announcing the date. No less excited I was able to smugly inform him that my fruit was already soaking in alcohol and the whisky fumes were once again overtaking the kitchen

Boozy Fruit

Boozy Fruit

Having totally forgotten my recipe from last year I made it up again.  But this year I am writing it down… here… so you can have a go too.  It’s loosely based on this recipe but includes whatever fruit I can find at the stalls in our local shopping mall where they fill my pots with obvious confusion and variable enthusiasm

Fruit pick'n'mix

Fruit pick’n’mix

(Slight deviation here but how sweet are those pots.  I found them when dropping off some bits at my local charity shop on the way to buy fruit and grabbed them with a little bit too much enthusiasm – I may have scared the lady behind the till, I definitely scared Chris.  I’ve noticed that the nicer your pots the more enthusiastic shopkeepers are to fill them however unused to the concept of refilling they are.)

This year my fruit and alcohol mix was was

  • 50g cranberries
  • 100g figs
  • 150g dates
  • 150 sultanas
  • 50g mixed peel
  • 150g raisins
  • 1 large Bramley apple (about 125g), peeled and finely chopped
  • 250ml Guinness Extra stout
  • 50ml Whiskey

I let the fruit stew in the Guinness and whisky overnight while texting Pete to tell him he was behind the times.  The next day we turned up Harry Belefonte and then followed the recipe from the BBC food site.  Chris looked at youtube clips to perfect our pudding dressing and we got boiling.

Big bowl and a big smile

Big bowl and a big smile

It takes a long time!  Basically for 6 hours last Sunday we couldn’t leave the house because we had two hobs bubbling away.  I did get on with other stuff (tiling the kitchen and putting up a finished blind – yes you heard me right I promise to post pics soon)

For some reason decided that “Harry Belefonte Radio” includes the song “it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas” which just made the whole enterprise more exciting and means that I’ve been singing it all week and also telling all my patients that it is actually beginning to look a lot like Christmas.  Some take the news better than others.


PS.  My Mum phoned me this morning to tell me that she was also making her own pudding!  A week late admittedly, but she’s a catholic and I don’t think they have the whole “Stir Up” collect stuff.  It looks like my and my brother’s rivalry has bought her out of pudding retirement.


3 thoughts on “Stir Up We Beseech You

  1. We don’t like pudding, but we make an advent Christmas cake each year, and everyone who is around at the time gets to stir and wish. This year it was some bemused school friends of my youngest daughter, who no doubt went home and told their parents how odd we are..

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