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ENTERTAINING

STIR-UP SUNDAY

Making your own Christmas pudding this year? Sunday 26 November is the date to keep in mind. Why? Because it’s Stir-up Sunday, the traditional day for mixing and steaming your festive pud.

Waitrose Cookery School

The traditions of Stir-up Sunday

Christmas pudding is centuries old, but Stir-up Sunday came to prominence in the quintessentially Christmassy era of the Victorians. Families would gather together to stir the Christmas pudding five weeks before Christmas, and wishes were made as each family member took it in turns to stir.

It was also traditional for lucky charms to be added to the pudding before steaming, with different charms said to mean different things. A silver coin meant wealth, a wishbone was for luck, a thimble for thrift, a ring for marriage and an anchor for safety. Finding one of these in your portion of pudding was said to be a sign of things to come – though if you’re going to do this yourself, it’s best to check before you take a bite.

Our very own Stir-up Sunday

To celebrate the occasion, we went to the Waitrose Cookery School to find out how to cook classic, vegan and gluten-free Christmas puddings, and picked up some top tips along the way.

MINI CLASSIC CHRISTMAS PUDDING

Ingredients

25g unsalted butter, softened, plus extra for greasing

60g self-raising flour

½ tsp baking powder

Pinch of salt

¼ tsp ground nutmeg

½ tsp ground cinnamon

¼ tsp ground cloves

1 medium egg, beaten

40ml black treacle

55ml brandy

1 tbsp dark rum

Finely grated zest of 1 unwaxed lemon

10g blanched almonds, roasted and chopped

40g peeled, cored and coarsely grated Bramley apple, mixed with lemon juice

75g currants

20g mixed peel

20g Forest Feast sour cherries

200g mincemeat

Chef's tip

Make sure you use a good mix of fruit for the best flavour. Mix sweet, acidic and bitter by using things like sour cherries and mixed peel - and lots of booze.

Method

Preheat the oven to 180°C, gas mark 4. Grease 4 mini pudding basins and 4 small circles of baking parchment with a little melted butter and set aside.

Sift the self-raising flour, baking powder, salt, nutmeg, cinnamon and cloves into a medium mixing bowl, then add the egg and 25g softened butter. Mix the treacle, brandy and rum together in a measuring jug. Pour this mixture into the bowl and mix everything together thoroughly. Stir in the lemon zest, apple, almonds, currants, peel, cherries and mincemeat.

Divide the mixture between the prepared basins and top with a circle of parchment. Cover each one with an 18cm square of foil and fold under the edges of the basins. Place the basins into a roasting tin and pour in enough boiling water to come 2.5cm up the sides of the basins.

Carefully place the tin into the oven and bake for 45-50 minutes, or until the puddings are springy and firm to the touch in the centre. Remove from the oven, unwrap, remove the parchment and leave to stand for 10 minutes. Carefully run a small knife around each one and turn out onto warm serving plates. Serve immediately with your favourite accompaniment.

Method

Preheat the oven to 180°C, gas mark 4. Grease 4 mini pudding basins and 4 small circles of baking parchment with a little melted butter and set aside.

Sift the self-raising flour, baking powder, salt, nutmeg, cinnamon and cloves into a medium mixing bowl, then add the egg and 25g softened butter. Mix the treacle, brandy and rum together in a measuring jug. Pour this mixture into the bowl and mix everything together thoroughly. Stir in the lemon zest, apple, almonds, currants, peel, cherries and mincemeat.

Divide the mixture between the prepared basins and top with a circle of parchment. Cover each one with an 18cm square of foil and fold under the edges of the basins. Place the basins into a roasting tin and pour in enough boiling water to come 2.5cm up the sides of the basins.

Carefully place the tin into the oven and bake for 45-50 minutes, or until the puddings are springy and firm to the touch in the centre. Remove from the oven, unwrap, remove the parchment and leave to stand for 10 minutes. Carefully run a small knife around each one and turn out onto warm serving plates. Serve immediately with your favourite accompaniment.

VEGAN CHRISTMAS PUDDING

Ingredients

25g dairy-free soya spread

1 tbsp milled flaxseed

60g self-raising flour

½ tsp baking powder

A pinch of salt

¼ tsp ground nutmeg

½ tsp ground cinnamon

¼ tsp ground cloves

25g coconut oil, melted

40ml black treacle

55ml stout

1 tbsp dark rum

Finely grated zest of 1 unwaxed lemon

40g peeled, cored and coarsely grated Bramley apple, mixed with lemon juice

10g blanched almonds, roasted and chopped

75g currants

20g mixed peel

20g Forest Feast sour cherries

200g vegan mincemeat

Chef's tip

Use flax eggs in the place of eggs for a vegan Christmas pudding. There’s a gum in the coating of flax seeds that takes on a similar consistency to eggs when the seeds are ground and whisked with water.

Method

Preheat the oven to 180°C, gas mark 4. Grease 4 mini pudding basins and 4 small circles of baking parchment with the soya spread and set aside. Mix the flaxseed with 3 tablespoons of cold water and set aside for at least ten minutes, or until it becomes jelly-like and makes a ‘flax egg’.

Sift the self-raising flour, baking powder, salt, nutmeg, cinnamon and cloves into a medium mixing bowl, then add the flax egg and the melted coconut oil. Mix the treacle with the stout and rum in a measuring jug. Pour this mixture into the bowl and whisk everything together thoroughly. Stir in the lemon zest, apple, almonds, currants, peel, cherries and mincemeat.

Divide the mixture between the prepared basins and top each one with a circle of greased parchment. Wrap each basin in an 18cm square of foil and fold under the edges of the basins.

Place the basins into a roasting tin and pour in enough boiling water to come 2.5cm up the sides of the basins. Carefully place the tin in the oven and bake for 45-50 minutes, or until the puddings are springy and firm to the touch in the centre. Remove from the oven, unwrap, remove the parchment and leave to stand for 10 minutes. Carefully run a small knife around each one and turn out onto warm serving plates.

GLUTEN FREE CHRISTMAS PUDDING

Ingredients

25g unsalted butter, softened, plus extra for greasing

70g gluten- and wheat-free self-raising flour

½ tsp gluten free baking powder

Pinch of salt

¼ tsp ground nutmeg

½ tsp ground cinnamon

¼ tsp ground cloves

1 medium egg, beaten

90ml black treacle

55ml brandy

1 tbsp dark rum

Finely grated zest of 1 unwaxed lemon

10g blanched almonds, roasted and chopped

75g currants

20g mixed peel

20g Forest Feast sour cherries

200g Waitrose Christmas cranberry mincemeat

Chef's tip

Because Christmas pudding is heavily fruit-based, make sure you use self-raising flour on a like for like basis to plain flour. You can also help the structure of the pudding by adding half a teaspoon of xanthan gum per 100g of flour.

Method

Preheat the oven to 180°C, gas mark 4. Grease 4 mini pudding basins and 4 small circles of baking parchment with the butter and set aside.

Sift the flour, baking powder, salt, nutmeg, cinnamon and cloves into a medium mixing bowl, then add the egg and 25g softened butter. Mix the treacle, brandy and rum together in a jug. Pour this mixture into the bowl and whisk everything together thoroughly. Add the lemon zest, grated apple, almonds, currants, peel, cherries and the mincemeat, and mix everything together well.

Divide the mixture between the prepared basins and top each one with a small circle of greased parchment. Cover each basin with an 18cm square of foil and fold under the edges of the basins.

Place the basins into a roasting tin and pour in enough boiling water to come 2.5cm up the sides of the basins. Carefully place the tin in the oven and cook for 45-50 minutes, or until the puddings are springy and firm to the touch in the centre. Remove from the oven, unwrap and remove the parchment, then leave to stand for 10 minutes. Carefully run a small knife around the edge of each one, then turn out onto warm serving plates. Serve immediately with your favourite accompaniment.

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