Today is Stir-Up Sunday and although there’s always a huge variety of ready-made versions available, a revival in the art of home baking and the desire to reconnect with traditional skills has found many of us dusting down old family recipes and indulging in one of the most enjoyable family traditions of the year – making the much-loved Christmas pudding.
Thought to originate in Victorian times, and from the church collect of the day: ‘stir up, we beseech thee, O Lord’, Stir-Up Sunday is always celebrated on the last Sunday before advent and is the perfect opportunity to gather family and friends to help stir, cook and store the pudding ahead of the big day.
Traditionally the pudding consists of 13 ingredients to represent Jesus and the 12 Apostles, which in Bette’s recipe are: raisins, sultanas, soft brown sugar, glace cherries, apple, orange peel, lemon peel, eggs, almonds, suet, breadcrumbs, mixed spice and brandy.
Sharing one spoon, the mixture is stirred from east to west – following the journey of the Wise Men, with the youngest member of the family making the first wish before everyone takes it in turn to ‘stir-up’ and set an intention for the coming year.
It’s common to include small silver coins, bestowing wealth on the recipient, and I’m thrilled to see the Royal Mint still offers the silver sixpence I remember from my childhood. They’ve also struck a new Christmas coin for this year that would make a perfect start to a new collection, or a Christmas gift to use next year. Silver charms can also be added representing your own family wishes or hopes for the year. An anchor or a St Christopher, for example, for those about to travel, or a ring for those getting married.
A recent study revealed that 75% of school-aged children had never mixed a Christmas pudding, so what a great opportunity to share some time, learn some new skills and pass on some family traditions. Or to start some new ones. And who knows, having stirred the pudding they may even eat some too! Don’t worry, there’s nothing in folklore that’ll bestow bad luck if it’s not made today – there’s just less time to soak up the brandy!
Our recipe came from one of Bette’s books dated 1902. If you’d like a copy please email [email protected] and we’ll happily forward it to you.