Today is Stir-up Sunday – when it really does begin to feel as though Christmas is just around the corner! I remember my grandma, our family’s champion pudding maker, in her tiny kitchen vigorously stirring a huge bowl of fragrant, spicy-smelling mixture with a wooden spoon before inviting all us grandchildren to take a turn, make a wish, and stir in a well-washed silver sixpence from the special pot kept in the corner of her cupboard for the rest of the year.
My grandma’s Christmas puddings were legendary and formed one of the centrepieces of our Christmas dinner, a wonderful rich concoction of flour, eggs, spices and a good slosh of something alcoholic (probably why all the grown-ups fell asleep on Christmas afternoon – nothing at all to do with the 4 am start us children insisted upon!). Of course a rich pudding like this needed time to mature, which is why it was always made in advance. The weekly visit to church at the end of November provided a helpful reminder as the Collect in the Book of Common Prayer for the last Sunday before Advent offers up a most timely reminder …
“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.”
Tradition decreed that every member of our family should stir the Christmas pudding (preferably from an easterly to westerly direction in honour of the Three Kings who came from the east) and make a wish. Then the mixture was spooned into my grandma’s row of pudding bowls, topped with a circle of greaseproof paper and securely tied with muslin to prevent any unwanted water penetration. It was boiled in a large pan on the hob for at least SIX HOURS before being left to cool and carefully stored in a cool dark place ready for the BIG DAY.
These days I’m afraid I purchase my Christmas pudding, as I’m a much more enthusiastic chocolate log maker than I am pudding boiler. But I do still enjoy making a different sort of Christmas pudding ….
My Figgy Pudding tea cosy from the December issue of the Magazine! Not long to wait now – it’s out on Thursday.