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Posted by James McIntosh Tuesday, 19th November 2013
In the Christian faith, this Sunday (24th November 2013) is the last Sunday before Advent, when the Christmas season starts. Back in Queen Victoria's day (who owned a Kitchener, the precursor of the Rangemaster), the Sunday before Advent was known as 'Stir-up Sunday.' Traditionally parents would show their children how to make a Christmas pudding and everyone would get an opportunity to stir the mixture and make a wish. It is traditional to place a coin into the mixture (wrapped in greaseproof paper) so when the pudding is cooked, the one who finds the coin in their slice of pudding would be blessed with health, wealth and happiness for the coming year.
The mixture is easy to make, it does have quite a few ingredients and takes some time to prepare. However what a great way to occupy your little army on a Sunday afternoon, and from watching the weather forecast this week, it's going to be cold outside.
If you are a vegetarian, just replace the suet with vegetarian suet. Vegetarian suet is also suitable for a gluten free pudding but use gluten free bread for the breadcrumbs and gluten free flour aswell if required. Guinness may not be wheat free, see http://www.wheat-free.org/is-guinness-safe-to-drink-on-a-wheat-free-diet.html so you could perhaps replace the Guinness with sherry.
When re-heating on Christmas day, ensure you mix a tablespoon of brandy mixed with a teaspoon of vodka to pour over to light the pudding. The vodka will give a brighter flame than the brandy alone. I don't know about you, but I think it's starting to feel a lot like Christmas....
- 110g ready-shredded suet
- 50g self raising flour
- 100g white breadcrumbs
- 1 tsp ground mixed spice
- 1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
- 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 250g soft dark brown sugar
- 130g sultanas
- 130g seedless raisins
- 250g currants
- 30g mixed candied peel, chopped
- 25g skinned and chopped almonds
- 1 small cooking apple, grated
- Grated zest 1/2 large orange
- Grated zest 1/2 large lemon
- 150ml Guinness
- 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
You will also need
- £1 coin wrapped in greaseproof paper
- 1.2L pudding basin, lightly greased
- The day before Stir-Up Sunday, mix the suet, flour, breadcrumbs, spices and sugar in a bowl. Mix through the dried fruit, mixed peel, almonds, apple and the zests.
- Mix in the Guinness and eggs, cover and leave over night for the flavours to develop.
- On Stir-Up Sunday, mix the mixture thoroughly allowing everyone at home to make a wish as they stir, and add the coin. Pour the mixture into the greased basin and cover with greaseproof paper and a sheet of foil. Secure tightly with some string (you will need another set of hands to get the knot really tight), and tie a piece of string from one side to the other to make a handle.
- Bring a large saucepan of water to the boil and place an old saucer in the bottom to act as a trivet, reduce to a simmer and place the pudding on top and the lid on the pan. Simmer for 8 hours topping up the water as required from a boiling kettle.
- When steamed, leave to cool in the pan overnight. Replace the greaseproof paper and foil. Leave in a cool and dark place (some suggest under the bed!) until Christmas Day.
- Re-steam the pudding for only 2 hours.
- Turn out onto a plate, pour the alcohol on top, bring to the table and set alight. Serve with brandy cream.