Stir Up Sunday is the day in the UK when the preparation of Christmas Puddings traditionally begins. This year it will be on 20 November.
But really, who wants a ‘fresh’ pudding when you can have one where plumped up currants, prunes, raisins, cranberries, dates and cherries all start to melt into each other in a liquor of muscovado sugar and brandy. So I’ve started my work a few weeks early.
In fact, as I understand it, my boyfriend’s late mother used to make her Christmas puddings a year ahead of time.
It all started last Sunday when I mixed the fruits and dark, molasses-rich moscovado sugar together. As my usual cherry brandy wasn’t available at the shop, I used calvados. After a few days of macerating together, the smell was heavenly, and on Wednesday I added the spices and some roughly chopped marcona almonds. Only last night did I finally add the eggs and bread crumbs to prepare the final puddings for potting and steaming.
If you have a full time job, as I do, finding the time to steam a large pudding for 5 or so hours is nearly impossible. It usually involves setting an alarm for 2am and rather alot of stress about whether the steamer will run dry. After years of this anxiety I have finally found the solution, as well as a use for the naffest thing in my kitchen – the Crock Pot! 10 hours overnight on the low setting in a Crock Pot bain marie and your large pudding will be ready, and satisfying plumped up on top.
As rather a hectic Christmas season awaits me – with many friends and family to see – I made a double batch of pudding this year. One large pudding, two medium and six small puddings all have designated homes, but not before I’ve spent the next month ‘feeding’ them with brandy.