Stir Up Sunday, Traditions and my Traditional Victorian Christmas Pudding Recipe

Stir Up Sunday, Traditions and my Traditional Victorian Christmas Pudding Recipe

Stir Up Sunday, Traditions and my Traditional Victorian Christmas Pudding Recipe

Stir Up Sunday, Traditions and my

Traditional Victorian Christmas Pudding Recipe

Stir Up Sunday, Traditions and my Traditional Victorian Christmas Pudding Recipe

Stir Up Sunday, Traditions and my Traditional Victorian Christmas Pudding Recipe

Tomorrow is Stir-Up Sunday, as well as St Catherine’s Day, a double celebration; I usually make cattern cakes on St Catherine’s day as is it my Saint’s Day, being a Karen, which is a derivative of Catherine…….however, tomorrow it is all about Christmas puddings, and although I don’t need to make one this year, as I have a very fine Betty’s Christmas Plum Pudding, I am making my Traditional Victorian Christmas Pudding as per request from a friend. But, I would still like to share the traditions of St Catherine’s day with you all, as well as a recipe for cattern cakes, so please DO visit my post from last year here: St Catherine’s Day, Lace Makers and Cattern CakesThese wee cakes are half biscuit (cookie) and half scone and are delectable morsels……a photo of the ones I made last year are below…….

St Catherine’s Day, Lace Makers and Cattern Cakes

St Catherine’s Day, Lace Makers and Cattern Cakes

I make no apologies for sharing my Traditional Victorian Christmas Pudding recipe again this year, as it is a VERY fine pudding indeed, as it’s a wonderfully rich and fruity pud, and is still light enough for those who dislike the heavy “canon ball” style puddings. The lack of flour in this makes a lighter crumb, and there is no bitter after taste that you get in some commercially prepared Christmas puddings. The recipe is based on a 100-year-old recipe I found written on a scrap of paper in an old cookery book..……..a real Dickensian style steamed pud. I changed some of the ingredients, to suit our personal taste, and cut the quantities back considerably – the original recipe made about 8 puddings, far too many for me, and probably you too.

Stir-up Sunday is the Sunday before Advent, a day that was even mentioned to the congregations at church. The term comes from the opening words of the collect for the day in the Book of Common Prayer of 1549:

Stir up, we beseech thee, O Lord, the wills of thy faithful people; that they, plenteously bringing forth the fruit of good works, may of thee be plenteously rewarded; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

(Book of Common Prayer of 1549)

The exhortation “Stir-up” was a timely reminder to the ladies of the congregation, to make haste to their kitchens and start their Christmas cooking; the Christmas pudding was especially important, as it would have time to mature before Christmas Day if made on this auspicious day. Another reason why it was important to take heed of the reminder, was the belief that the pudding would impart God’s blessings to all who ate it, but only if it had been made on this day. It is traditional for all the family to participate in stirring the pudding on Stir-up Sunday, whilst making a wish at the same time, and ONLY clockwise, stirring anticlockwise is believed to invoke the work of the devil! It is also believed that every member of the family should take a turn to stir the pudding with a wooden spoon from East to West, in honour of the three kings who travelled from the East.

Traditional Victorian Christmas Pudding

Traditional Victorian Christmas Pudding

The Christmas pudding, as we know it today, did not become popular Christmas fare until the 19th Century, mainly due to Queen Victoria’s husband, Prince Albert. (Although George 1 did serve a “plum pudding” on his Christmas Day menu beforehand.) However, it was Prince Albert’s love of the rich, heavy and fruited puddings from his German childhood, which reintroduced the pudding back to the British as a Christmas tradition. Prior to this “new” pudding, we were all more accustomed to the Mediaeval form of “Plum Porridge” or Plum Pottage”, which was semi-liquid and made from meat that was stewed together with dried fruits and prunes; the prunes (dried plums) gave the name to the pudding. Sugar, spices and sack – a once popular wine from the Canary Islands, were also added to the pottage and then the whole concoction was thickened with breadcrumbs, grains or sago. By the time Prince Albert had made his rich pudding popular, the meat had all but disappeared, although beef suet was still added, and the pudding had become more like our modern day Christmas pudding. It was also the Victorians that introduced the idea of boiling or steaming the pudding in a bowl or basin.

 The idea of adding silver charms and silver coins, probably harks back to earlier traditions of adding a dried bean or pea to festive cakes and puddings. These were always added to Twelfth Night cakes and the person who found the bean was “crowned” the King or Queen of the Bean or Pea for the night, a dubious pleasure that nowadays involves you having to buy a round of drinks!  In France, a bean or little porcelain figure is still added to their Twelfth Night or Epiphany cakes, and a paper crown is included so you may “crown” your Twelfth Night king or queen! I still add a sixpence to my pudding, and you can sometimes find packs of Pudding Charms for sale; the coin is supposed to bring you worldly fortune, a thimble brings you a life of God’s blessings and a ring means a marriage!

Christmas Pudding Charms

Christmas Pudding Charms

To end, here a few lovely lines from Eleanor Farjeon’s poem “Stirring the Pudding, just to get you in the “stirring” mood….and my recipe too of course, see you later and have a wonderful weekend, Karen 

Stirring the Pudding

Stem the currants

Stone the raisins

Chop the peel as fine as fine

Beat the eggs and shred the suet

Grate the crumbs (no flour in mine)

Freely shake, to make it nice,

All the virtue of the spice.

Pour the brandy liberally.

Stir and wish, then, three times three.

(Eleanor Farjeon)

Stir Up Sunday, Traditions and my Traditional Victorian Christmas Pudding Recipe

Stir Up Sunday, Traditions and my Traditional Victorian Christmas Pudding Recipe

Traditional Victorian Christmas Pudding

Serves 2 x 2 pint (600ml) Ouddings
Prep time 20 minutes
Cook time 6 hours
Total time 6 hours, 20 minutes
Allergy Egg, Wheat
Dietary Vegetarian
Meal type Dessert, Side Dish, Snack
Misc Pre-preparable, Serve Hot
Occasion Christmas, Formal Party
Region British
By author Karen S Burns-Booth
This recipe is based on a 100-year-old recipe I found written on a scrap of paper in an old cookery book..……..a real Dickensian style steamed pud. I changed some of the ingredients, to suit our personal taste, and cut the quantities back considerably – the original recipe made about 8 puddings! It’s a wonderful rich and fruity pud, and is still light enough for those who dislike the heavy “canon ball” style puddings. The lack of flour in this makes a lighter crumb, and there is no bitter after taste that you get in some commercially prepared Christmas puddings. Makes two 2 pint puddings, each serving 6 to 8 people.

Ingredients

  • 450g/1 lb raisins
  • 225g/8 ounces currants
  • 225g/8 oz sultanas
  • 50g/2 oz dates, pitted
  • 50g/2 oz citrus peels, finely chopped
  • 50g/2 oz flaked almonds
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground mixed spice
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 50g/2 oz ground almonds
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 375g/12 oz fresh breadcrumbs or cake crumbs
  • 115g/4 oz soft brown sugar
  • 450g/1 lb butter, softened
  • 6 large eggs, beaten
  • 4 tablespoons brandy or rum
  • 8 fluid ounces stout, such as Guinness

Note

This recipe is based on a 100-year-old recipe I found written on a scrap of paper in an old cookery book..……..a real Dickensian style steamed pud. I changed some of the ingredients, to suit our personal taste, and cut the quantities back considerably – the original recipe made about 8 puddings!  It’s a wonderful rich and fruity pud, and is still light enough for those who dislike the heavy “canon ball” style puddings. The lack of flour in this makes a lighter crumb, and there is no bitter after taste that you get in some commercially prepared Christmas puddings. Makes two 2 pint puddings, each serving 6 to 8 people.

Directions

Step 1 Mix all the dried fruit together, and then add the citrus peel, flaked almonds, spices, ground almonds and salt – blend thoroughly.
Step 2 Work in the breadcrumbs, sugar and softened butter, mixing well.
Step 3 Stir the beaten eggs into the mixture and then gradually add the brandy or rum and the stout. Mix thoroughly until a soft dropping consistency has been achieved.
Step 4 Butter two large (2 pint) pudding bowls and spoon half the mixture into each bowl – smoothing down the surface slightly.
Step 5 Cover with greaseproof paper and muslin pudding cloths or aluminium foil, and tie them down around the rims, making a loop for a handle to lift the pudding basins out of the steamer later.
Step 6 Boil the puddings in an open pan or in a steamer for 6 hours – making sure that the water is topped up when necessary. You can also steam these puddings in a pressure cooker – please follow your manufacturer’s instructions.
Step 7 Remove the greaseproof paper, cloths/ aluminium foil and cover with fresh greaseproof paper and a clean pudding cloth or foil.
Step 8 Store in a cool place for up to 2 months, although I have kept these puddings for nearly 2 years.
Step 9 On Christmas day, boil or steam for a further 4 hours. To flame the puddings: Turn out the puddings onto a plate. Heat up a tablespoon or two of brandy in a small saucepan until it is warm but NOT boiling, and then pour the hot brandy into a ladle – take the pudding to the table with the ladle and light the ladle with a match – BE CAREFUL! Pour the burning brandy over the pudding and remember to turn the lights out for maximum ooohs and ahhhhs!
Step 10 Serve with Brandy Butter, Rum Sauce, Custard or Cream. Don’t forget the sprig of holly too.

If you would like to win a Betty’s Traditional Plum Pudding, I am offering a fabulous Giveaway here: 

Betty’s Christmas Plum Pudding in Ceramic Pudding Basin

Giveaway & Review: Bettys Christmas Plum Pudding in a Collectable Ceramic Pudding Basin

Are you a Christmas pudding lover or hater?

Comments

  1. says

    Magnificent, though I expected nothing less! I made one last year, based on Dorothy Hartley’s which used milk rather than beer. Sadly mine looked considerably less than perfect. But hey ho, nothing like a bit of fruit with my custard!

    And I love the Eleanor Farjeon poem – sadly neglected (though I suspect considered too old-fashioned in these times – pah!)

    • says

      Thanks Rachel, I am so pleased to meet another Eleanor Farjeon lover, as you say, she is probably not trendy enough for today’s taste, but we simple and eloquent poetry always evokes such emotions with me.

      Ah, another cook and writer admire, Dorothy Hartley, did you see the Lucy Worsley programme about her the other night! I have her book Food in England and often use it, as a cookbook and reference book, but, I must admit to not liking the addition of milk to a pudding, well, not a Christmas pud anyway!

      I am also making another alternative pudding for my Kenwood Christmas menu on Monday too, with clementines, it will be lighter and very fruity! With brandy!

      Karen

  2. says

    Karen, I am too tentative to tried a steamed pudding – hence opting for the cake option. I really should just bit the bullet and do it! However, I’ve been putting lots of entries into your Betty’s competition instead to try to win one!

    • says

      Steaming a pudding is quite good actually Gill, as you can leave it alone for ages and carry on with other jobs! But, I so remember how I felt the first time I attempted one! Good luck for the Betty’s Christmas Pudding! Karen

  3. says

    ahhh, i’m tingly all over with Christmas excitement… I have to work at the Lincoln Christmas Gift Fair today and I should have timed it to make my cake, but I am making mince pies, so that’s not a bad thing to do on stir up Sunday… your cake looks wonderful and I love this post, full of traditions and lovely things… and with this horrid rain lashing down outside I can dream of your lovely pudding (ooh err missus)

    • says

      IT is starting to feel a lot like Christmas isn’t it? Cue music……..LOL! I hope your day and demo went well, and I also hope that the bad weather did not put people off coming too……must pop over to Belleau Kitchen in a minute to see if you have posted anything about your demo yet! Karen

    • says

      Yes, I have to admit to usually serving our pudding on boxing day, although I have devised a new lighter one for today’s Kenwood Christmas Menu with clementines…..Thanks Jac! Karen

  4. Susan says

    Personally I cannot stand Christmas pud have never liked it and don’t think I ever will. I am making one this year using Dan Lepard’s recipe for the guests on Christmas day. I will have some nice cheeses instead. This pud looks grand though, a great finale!

  5. says

    What an incredibly informative post Karen! Well done! I really like Christmas pudding but as the only one I tend to just buy a mini one. I remember everyone taking a turn to stir the Christmas pudding at my Aunts house. What a lucky find that recipe on a scrap of paper was- treasure!

    • says

      Thanks Jayne, I DO love my social history and foodie facts! I know, I have found several scraps of paper in old books now, they are often way more fascinating than the actual books themselves! Karen

  6. says

    Lovely! I’m cheating this year and have three Heston puds put away, it’s the first time in 26 years I’ve not made my own pudding! But I have made Christmas Cake and Mincemeat!
    Your recipe is lovely, and I’m going to re-read a Christmas Carol tomorrow, just to get into the Victorian mood:-)

    • says

      Thanks Jude! There is NO harm in cheating, and as I mentioned in my post, we have a LOVELY Betty’s Pud this year, so, I am cheating too! I am going to re-read The Country Child, as I love that book and the chapter about Christmas! Karen

  7. MrsNumbles says

    Thanks for the bit of background on traditional puddings – and the poem is lovely. I moved here right before Christmas last year so I didn’t have time to make one, but I really wanted to do one this year for my Brit hubby. I found Nigel Slater’s recipe a few weeks ago, and the pudding is wrapped and waiting for Christmas Day – can’t wait to try it(hope I didn’t mangle it since this is my first time steaming as we don’t do it in the US)!

    • says

      Thanks so much Mrs Numbles! If you have to make any famous chef’s pudding, than Nigel Slater would be my choice too, I absolutely LOVE his writing and all of his recipes, so I am sure the pudding will be just amazing! Steaming is VERY easy and gives you time to other things, have a wonderful Christmas and do let me know how your first Christmas in the UK goes! Karen

  8. Lisa Williams says

    beautiful and I hate to be that person but it is really not that long until festive time again :)

  9. Gretchen Peterson says

    Karen, I’m going to test you here. First off as an American…what kind of cake crumbs would you use? Spice, white carrot? And here is the zinger…I live in Alaska and would like to make it next week…however…we move in 2 weeks for Oregon. So my question is…if I make it, pack it, travels through freezing temps to OR. Still in around freezing and I unpack it and steam it the last bit on Christmas…do you think it will be OK?
    I’m laughing…this may be more than I want to pull off with a move just before Christmas.
    Gretchen

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