Stir-up Sunday Part One Christmas Pudding

Its the last Sunday before Advent and tradition has it that this is the day when the Christmas pudding is made or “stirred up” and wishes made.   If you have ever wondered where the name “Stir-up Sunday” came from it is because the Collect for the Sunday before Advent in the Book of Common Prayer starts with “Stir up, O Lord, the wills of thy faithful people”.  And, of course, making the pudding about now gives the perfect amount of time for it to mature for Christmas. Once done, I keep my pudding in the fridge till Christmas Day ( and that way feel enormously self satisfied every time I open the fridge door) but any cool dark place will do – my mother kept hers under the spare bedroom bed  She also kept Christmas presents under there as my brother and I quickly discovered but that’s by the by and don’t ask how we knew!!!  Let’s just we weren’t top of Santa’s good children list that year!

Lots of people say they don’t like Christmas pud for some reason.  I think it’s normally because they have only had shop bought ones which are, as with the Christmas mincemeat in a previous recipe on this blog, absolutely nothing like the proper homemade ones.  As long as you stick to using 500g of dried fruit that fruit can be wharever you fancy.  So if you would like dried cranberries or maybe some walnuts or figs in your pud just cut down on the sultanas, raisins or currants – it’s as simple as that.

We come now to the tricky subject of suet. If you don’t want to use it (be it vegetarian or beef) you can substitute butter.  Just chill the butter and grate it and use in the same way as the suet here. You could  also customise the sugar and choose light brown soft sugar rather than dark if you like a lighter pud.  Remember to  only steam the pudding initially for 5 hours because if you steam for 8 you will get a traditional dark pudding regardless of the sugar you used.  On the subject of steaming, I always steam my pud in the oven rather on the hob as the more even heat of the oven means I don’t have to remember to top up the water so often!  And I also make a little string handle so I can lift it out more easily when it’s cooked!!


  • 100g grated suet (or butter)
  • 110g soft white breadcrumbs
  • 50g self raising flour
  • 1 tsp ground mixed spice
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp grated nutmeg
  • 225g soft dark brown sugar
  • 175g sultanas
  • 175g raisins
  • 100g currants
  • 50g ready-to-eat apricots, chopped
  • small eating apple, flesh grated in (no need to peel)
  • medium carrot,  flesh grated in (no need to peel)
  • grated zest of an orange
  • grated zest of a lemon
  • 2eggs
  • 150ml stout
  • 5 tbsp whisky



  1. The day before you want to cook the pudding, place all the dry ingredients into a large bowl
  2. In a jug mix together the eggs, stout and whisky
  3. Pour mixture into the bowl and mix thoroughly.  Call family round to have a stir and make a wish before covering with cling film and leaving overnight at room temperature so the flavours combine
  4. Butter a 2pint (1.2 litre) basin and pop a small circle of greaseproof paper at the bottom.
  5. Spoon mixture into basin and cover with a layer of parchment foil into which you have made a pleat. Tie tightly with string making a string handle.
  6. Place on scrunched up foil in a saucepan and pour boiling water until level reaches the bottom of the rim of the pudding bowl.  Cover tightly with lid and place in oven set to 125c for 8 hours (see notes above). Check water level half way through cooking time
  7. Remove from saucepan and leave to cool
  8. Replace foil wrapping and string and place in fridge until Christmas Day
  9. On the day steam again for 1.5 hours – this time I find it easier to do on hob as ovens are always full.  Remember it will keep quite happily in the hot water till you need it
  10. Put in charms/coins wrapped in twists of greaseproof into the pudding.  Turn out onto dish remembering to remove greaseproof disc, and flame with more warmed whisky when bringing to table.  I like to serve mine with whisky almond butter and/or double cream.


Ps this is delicious fried in slices in said whisky almond butter for Boxing Day breakfast.  Any further left overs can be crumbled into softened vanilla ice cream and refrozen or stirred into chocolate truffle mix

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