Wednesday, 18 November 2009
Preparing for Stir Up Sunday
This Sunday is Stir Up Sunday ~ the sunday before advent
This custom is thought to have originated, because, on the Sunday before advent, Victorian congregations were exhorted to ‘stir up’ & ‘bring forth good works’ a timely reminder to the women that it was time to prepare their Christmas puddings.
An essential part of this tradition is that all members of the household must take a turn stirring the pudding while making a wish. Finally, stir a lucky coin into the sticky mixture. We can look forward to finding it on Christmas day.
For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.
Traditional Christmas Pudding by Delia Smith
4 oz shredded suet 2 large eggs
2oz self raising flour 5 fl oz (75 ml) stout
4 oz (110 g) white breadcrumbs 2 tablespoons rum
1 level teaspoon ground mixed spice grated zest 1/2 large lemon
1/4 level teaspoon grated nutmeg grated zest 1/2 large orange
good pinch ground cinnamon 1 small apple, peeled cored & finely chopped
8oz soft dark brown sugar 1 oz almonds, chopped
4 oz sultanas 1 oz candied peel
40z raisins 10 oz currants
You will also need a 2 pint (1.2 litre) pudding basin, lightly greased.
This recipe makes one large pudding in a 2 pint (1.2 litre) basin. If you have any left over it will re-heat beautifully, wrapped in foil, in the oven next day. If you want two smaller puddings, use two 1 pint (570 ml) basins, but give them the same steaming time.
Begin the day before you want to steam the pudding. Take your largest, roomiest mixing bowl and start by putting in the suet, sifted flour and breadcrumbs, spices and sugar. Mix these ingredients very thoroughly together, then gradually mix in all the dried fruit, mixed peel and nuts followed by the apple and the grated orange and lemon zests. Don't forget to tick everything off so as not to leave anything out. Now in a smaller basin measure out the rum and stout, then add the eggs and beat these thoroughly together. Next pour this over all the other ingredients, and begin to mix very thoroughly. It's now traditional to gather all the family round, especially the children, and invite everyone to have a really good stir and make a wish! The mixture should have a fairly sloppy consistency – that is, it should fall instantly from the spoon when this is tapped on the side of the bowl. If you think it needs a bit more liquid add a spot more stout. Cover the bowl and leave overnight.
Next day pack the mixture into the lightly greased basin, cover it with a double sheet of silicone paper (baking parchment) and a sheet of foil and tie it securely with string (you really need to borrow someone's finger for this!). It's also a good idea to tie a piece of string across the top to make a handle. Place the pudding in a steamer set over a saucepan of simmering water and steam the pudding for 8 hours. Do make sure you keep a regular eye on the water underneath and top it up with boiling water from the kettle from time to time. When the pudding is steamed let it get quite cold, then remove the steam papers and foil and replace them with some fresh ones, again making a string handle for easier manoeuvring. Now your Christmas pudding is all ready for Christmas Day. Keep it in a cool place away from the light. Under the bed in an unheated bedroom is an ideal place.
To cook, fill a saucepan quite full with boiling water, put it on the heat and, when it comes back to the boil, place a steamer on top of the pan and turn it down to a gentle simmer. Put the Christmas pudding in the steamer, cover and leave to steam away for 2¼ hours. You'll need to check the water from time to time and maybe top it up a bit.
To serve, remove the pudding from the steamer and take off the wrapping. Slide a palette knife all round the pudding, then turn it out on to a warmed plate. Place a suitably sized sprig of holly on top. Now warm a ladleful of brandy over direct heat, and as soon as the brandy is hot ask someone to set light to it. Place the ladle, now gently flaming, on top of the pudding – but don't pour it over until you reach the table. When you do, pour it slowly over the pudding, sides and all, and watch it flame to the cheers of the assembled company! When both flames and cheers have died down, serve the pudding with rum sauce, or rum or brandy butter.
The Classic Christmas Cake by Delia Smith
1 lb currants
6 oz sultanas
6 oz raisins
2 oz (50 g) glacé cherries, rinsed, dried and finely chopped
2 oz mixed candied peel
3 tablespoons brandy, plus extra for 'feeding'
8 oz plain flour
1/2 level tsp salt
1/4 level tsp grated nutmeg
½ level teaspoon ground mixed spice
8 oz unsalted butter
8 oz soft brown sugar
4 large eggs
2 oz chopped almonds
1 level dessertspoon black treacle
grated zest 1 lemon
grated zest 1 orange
You will also need an 8 inch (20 cm) round cake tin or a 7 inch (18 cm) square tin, greased and lined with silicone paper (baking parchment). Tie a band of brown paper round the outside of the tin for extra protection.
You need to begin this cake the night before you want to bake it. All you do is weigh out the dried fruit and mixed peel, place it in a mixing bowl and mix in the brandy (or orange juice) as evenly and thoroughly as possible. Cover the bowl with a clean tea cloth and leave the fruit aside to absorb the brandy for 12 hours.
Next day pre-heat the ovento gas mark 1.Then measure out all the rest of the ingredients, ticking them off to make quite sure they're all there. The treacle will be easier to measure if you remove the lid and place the tin in a small pan of barely simmering water.
Now begin the cake by sifting the flour, salt and spices into a large mixing bowl, lifting the sieve up high to give the flour a good airing. Next, in a separate large mixing bowl, whisk the butter and sugar together until it's light, pale and fluffy. Now beat the eggs in a separate bowl and add them to the creamed mixture a tablespoonful at a time; keep the whisk running until all the egg is incorporated. If you add the eggs slowly by degrees like this the mixture won't curdle. If it does, don't worry, any cake full of such beautiful things can't fail to taste good! When all the egg has been added, fold in the flour and spices, using gentle, folding movements and not beating at all (this is to keep all that precious air in). Now fold in the fruit, peel, chopped nuts and treacle and finally the grated lemon and orange zests.
Next, using a large kitchen spoon, transfer the cake mixture into the prepared tin, spread it out evenly with the back of a spoon and, if you don't intend to ice the cake, lightly drop the whole blanched almonds in circles or squares all over the surface. Finally cover the top of the cake with a double square of silicone paper with a 50p-size hole in the centre (this gives extra protection during the long slow cooking). Bake the cake on the lowest shelf of the oven for 4½-4¾ hours. Sometimes it can take up to ½-¾ hour longer than this, but in any case don't look till at least 4 hours have passed.
Cool the cake for 30 minutes in the tin, then remove it to a wire rack to finish cooling. When it's cold 'feed' it – make small holes in the top and base of the cake with a cocktail stick or small skewer, then spoon over a few teaspoons of brandy, wrap it in double silicone paper secured with an elastic band and either wrap again in foil or store in an airtight container. You can now feed it at odd intervals until you need to ice or eat it.