Have you heard of Stir-Up Sunday? Neither had I, until my Aunt mentioned it in an email exchange last week while we discussed New England Oyster Stew (more on that later). This really has everything I’m looking for in a Sunday activity: my children in aprons and the promise of dessert and brandy.
It goes something like this: The last Sunday before advent, chop up all the ingredients needed for your Christmas pudding and let your wildlings stir it up. Christmas pudding is NOT easy on the eyes, so those crazy Brits decided to light it on fire as a distraction when the dessert is served. Christmas Pudding is not a pudding like, for example, a fine tapioca, but rather is a combination of dried fruits, brandy, suet, spices and bread crumbs.
My husband moved to the North Shore from England when he was a kid. Sadly, he does not have an accent. But he does love a cup of tea, a long bath, and a terrible yeast-flavored toast spread called marmite.
This is my husband when he was British. Check out those shoes. And that whole Britishy wheel barrel thing he is sitting in.
Because of this, the whole idea of Stir-up Sunday as a potential family tradition appealed to me. Below is a recipe I found online from Jamie Oliver. The recipe was in grams, but I’ve changed it to ounces since that is the measurement used in most grocery stores for dried fruit.
•18 ounces mixed dried fruit (such as cranberries, cherries, apricots, sultanas and raisins)
•3.5 ounces dates , chopped up
•3 tablespoons chopped crystallized ginger
•1 1/4 cup suet (you can buy suet online here or substitute with Crisco)
•1 orange , zest of
•1 ¼ cup plain flour
•1 ¼ cup caster sugar
•1 1/3 cup fresh white breadcrumbs
•2 tablespoons vin santo or brandy
•1 handful chopped nuts, such as pecans, Brazils or hazelnuts
•1 medium free-range egg
•1/2 cup milk
•golden syrup , to serve
GREASE a 1.5 liter pudding bowl.
I didn’t have a pudding bowl and got stuck on all this “liter” business. A quick text to my MIL and she said I could borrow one. If you don’t have a British MIL on stand-by, you can order one here.
Mix all the ingredients together, except the golden syrup.
Place in a large saucepan with water halfway up the sides of the bowl. Bring the water to the boil, put on a tight-fitting lid, and simmer for 3 hours. (Don’t forget to check the water regularly, making sure that it never boils dry, because if it does, it will burn and the bowl will crack.)
Remove pudding and let cool. Remove the parchment paper and aluminum foil used for steaming and replace it with plastic wrap. Store the pudding in a cool, dark room until Christmas.
Stay tuned for photos of my pudding on fire.