November 22, 2020 7:30:01 AM
The last Sunday before Advent is also known as Stir-up Sunday, when Christmas pudding preparation traditionally begins.
The rich fruit sponge must be mixed, stirred and steamed so the pud has plenty of time to mature before the grand unveiling on Christmas Day.
If you’ve not made your own festive pudding before, you may be surprised to discover this is no simple dessert-making endeavour. These are the seven emotional stages of Stir-up Sunday…
You’ve bought all your ingredients. You’ve got carols playing in the background. You’re already feeling festive – and it’s not even December.
As you gather all the bits and bobs you’ll need to perfect your pud, you can’t wait to get started.
Isn’t this fun? As you weigh raisins and currants, grate nutmeg, lemon and orange zest, and measure out a generous helping of brandy, delicious smells begin to fill the kitchen. Move over, Nigella, there’s a new domestic god/goddess in town.
Hang on a second. You were supposed to soak the dried fruit in the brandy overnight? And the butter is meant to be frozen? And grated? What kind of weird pudding is this?
You curse yourself for not having read the recipe properly before you started. There’s going to be a delay while you let the butter freeze and the fruit soak. You pour yourself a dash of brandy in the meantime.
Admittedly, with Stir-up Sunday the clue is in the name, but still, you had no idea all this grating, measuring, peeling, slicing and stirring would be so tiring.
At least tradition dictates the rest of the household has to help…
Ah, now this is the best bit. According to tradition, each member of the family from east to west must take it in turns to stir the pudding (to remember the Wise Men from the Nativity story) and make a wish while they’re mixing.
Everyone’s happy, the mixture is looking good and you get a break from your duties for a few minutes. Phew.
A mere six hours later you retrieve the spiced sponge from its steam bath on the stove and voila – your culinary creation is complete. Well, sort of.
The precious pud has now got to be stowed away for five weeks. Only then will you be able to enjoy the fruits of your labour. Still, you’re proud of your inaugural Stir-up Sunday efforts.
The pud has cooled and is now safely sleeping in its hiding place, and you’ve finally managed to clear the mountain of washing up that resulted from one epic recipe.
One thing’s for certain: you’re relieved Stir-up Sunday only happens once a year. Roll on Christmas Day when you’ll actually get to eat the thing.