The clocks have gone back and the nights are drawing in, it’s as dark when I get up as when I come home from work and my thoughts are turning to the approaching festive season. The scents of cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and cloves need to fill the air and bring me comfort.
This weekend it is Stir Up Sunday – the day that traditionally we British like to make our Christmas puddings, to give them a full month to mature and develop those delicious festive flavours.
The name “Stir Up Sunday” refers, somewhat irreverently to the beginning of the Book of Common Prayer’s collect (prayer) said on this day – “Stir-up, we beseech thee, O Lord, the wills of thy faithful people; that they, plenteously bringing forth the fruit of good works, may of thee be plenteously rewarded; through Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen”. This prayer was then adapted by children to the following rhyme: “Stir-up we beseech thee, the pudding in the pot; and when we get home, we’ll eat the whole lot!”. Canny cooks also noted that this date meant a perfect 5 week maturation of the Christmas pud.
There are all sorts of lovely traditions associated with this recipe. The whole family takes it in turn to stir the pudding and make a wish for the coming year. The mix is traditionally stirred from East to West (clockwise), to represent the journey made by the Three Wise Men. The pudding also traditionally has 13 ingredients – to represent Jesus and his twelve disciples. A coin is placed within the pudding and cooked, the person who finds it on their plate will find wealth in the coming year.
So, to the Christmas Pudding recipe – this is one my family has made for years and is unusual in that it contains NO FAT (yes, really) which of course means you can eat it with plenty of cream! It is also completely vegetarian.
Antal Christmas Pudding
6oz plain or self-raising flour
6oz fresh breadcrumbs
freshly grated nutmeg
1.5 lbs of mixed dried fruit
(raisins /sultanas/ blueberries/ cranberries/ cherries/ apricots – whatever you like best but a mixture. You can also add a handful of chopped pecans / macadamias/ almonds or hazelnuts)
1 grated carrot
8oz Demerara sugar
2 tbsp marmalade
2 tbsp treacle or golden syrup
grated zest of 1 lemon
1/4 pint milk
2 tbsp lemon juice
brandy or rum to taste
Mix all ingredients together well.
Grease pudding bowl and add mixture. Cover well and secure.
Steam immediately for 4 hours.
Cool & store in fridge until needed.
To re-heat, steam for 11/2 hours.
This will make one big pudding (2 pint) or can be divided into two smaller ones and will feed 8-10 people, with seconds…