The last Sunday of November marks ‘Stir Up Sunday’, where families would traditionally prepare to make the best Christmas pudding or best Christmas cake yet. While there are many, many traditions that we love to get stuck into, there isn’t always enough time for all of them. So we thought we’d share some of our favourite ready-made pudding creations, stories and a recipe with you. That way, you can choose to stir up, or pick up, this Sunday.
Iconic plum pudding
Cumbrian-based food historian Ivan Day describes how plum pudding, along with roast beef, was the iconic meal given by the wealthy to the poor at Christmas. In an 1845 recipe that he created, expensive brandy and preserved peel were set aside – but dried fruit and nutmeg were luxuries. Ingredients were combined in a dry mixture that was pressed into moulds, covered with a cloth and tied with string. The recipients cooked their pudding gift under the meat to catch the juices for extra richness and flavour.
A traditional approach
In his book ‘Traditional Food in Cumbria’, Peter Brears describes how ordinary families took on pudding making at home: “Only when their ingredients became cheaper and each generation tried to cram as much richness as possible into their puddings, did they develop into the heavy, sticky, dark brown over-sweet masses of indigestibility so unsuitable for ending a large meal.” We’ll assume he’s not a fan then!
Mrs Wilson’s plum pudding recipe
100g each of currants, raisins, suet and fresh white breadcrumbs
175g each of brown sugar and chopped mixed peel
1/2 tsp grated nutmeg
1 small carrot, grated
pinch of salt
grated zest and juice of 1/2 lemon
1 egg, beaten
1 tbsp flour
Mix all together and leave overnight. Pack into a greased pudding basin, tying a piece of pleated greaseproof over the top (or cover with cooking foil), pressing it tightly over the rim. Steam for 4-5 hours.
Alternatively, rinse a piece of fine cloth or muslin in hot water, wring out, shake flat, dust with flour, shake off the surplus. Tip the mixture into the middle, gather the cloth around it and tie the top with string. Plunge into a pan of boiling water – tie end downwards – and boil for 4-5 hours to produce a traditional ball-shaped pudding.
Whichever method is used, the pudding is best cooked up to a couple of weeks before needed, and then steamed or boiled for an hour before serving.
An admirable sixpence tradition
The Royal Mint says households retain the same sixpence year after year. Admirable! Some of us are obviously more organisationally challenged but we can still enjoy the food rituals at this time of year.
Damson pudding available in the farm shop
The Cowmire Hall Damson Pudding is one of our absolute favourites, which is stocked here in the farm shop. The unique, delicious and extra special pudding is made using luxury fruit and nuts, Lyth Valley damsons and Cowmire Hall Damson Gin. Truly extravagant.