Stir-up Sunday is a Victorian tradition where the family would gather together to stir the Christmas pudding five weeks before Christmas, or the last Sunday before advent begins. This recipe, by Mary Goodsell, is a family favourite which evokes fond nostalgic memories.
TOP TIP: Some people prefer the more traditional route of adding brandy, but I favour using Cointreau, resulting in a zestier tasting cake.
Butter, to grease
100g (3½oz) raisins
50g (2oz) dried cranberries
125g (4½oz) sultanas
125g (4½oz) prunes, chopped
25g (1oz) chopped mixed peel
50ml (2fl oz) fresh orange juice, plus finely grated zest 1 orange
100ml (3½fl oz) Cointreau or brandy
50g (2oz) plain flour
50g (2oz) breadcrumbs
1 large eating apple, peeled, cored and finely chopped
2 tsps ground cinnamon
1 tbsp mixed spice
110g (4oz) dark brown soft sugar
1 large egg, beaten
25g (1oz) vegetarian suet
1. Place all of the dried fruit into a ceramic or glass bowl with the Cointreau or brandy, orange zest and juice. Cover and leave to soak overnight.
2. Add all of the remaining ingredients, apart from the butter, to the bowl and stir well. This is when the family can all join in and each have a stir.
3. Use the butter to grease a 1.2 litre/2 pint pudding basin and line with a 61cm (24in) piece of muslin. Spoon the mix into the lined basin, pack it down firmly as you go, and level the top. Pull the sides of the muslin around the pudding and secure tightly with string.
4. Tie string around the basin just under the rim and knot to secure. Then make a handle by bringing the ends of the string over the top of the bowl and tying them to the string on the other side.
5. To cook, put an upturned saucer into a deep pan and then place the basin on top of the saucer. Pour in enough water to reach just over halfway up the sides of the basin, then cover and bring to a simmer. Cook for 6 hours. Make sure the pan never boils dry by topping it up with boiling water as necessary.
6. Remove the pudding from the pan and leave it to cool. Lift it out of the basin, keeping it in its muslin cloth, then wrap in clingfilm and a double layer of kitchen foil. Store in a cool dark place. The pudding will keep for up to one year if wrapped tightly.
7. To reheat: return the pudding, still in its muslin, to the pudding basin. Follow the cooking instructions from step 5, but only for two hours, or until hot right through.