Stir Up Sunday

Christmas is coming! Well, in 35 days it is. Preparations have begun and I’m already planning what bakes I’ll be adding to the table. So get ready for a few festive recipes that’ll be perfect for all the gatherings and get-togethers which I’m sure are already filling up your calendars! The first recipe I’ll be sharing is for my Christmas Pudding. Now, I know this may sound a bit keen but this is the perfect time to get started. Today is the last Sunday before advent, also known as Stir up Sunday, and this is traditionally the day when Christmas puddings were made in advance, allowing them plenty of time to mature before eating. Everyone in the family would get involved, each having a stir of the mixture before its long and slow stint in the steamer.

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In all honesty, I’m not normally a big lover of traditional Christmas puddings – I much prefer a fat slice of chocolate cake or some warm mince pies after gorging on our Christmas feast. But this year, I teamed up with BBC Songs of Praise and the lovely Rev’d Kate Bottley and gave my spin on a Christmas pudding. Adding a few not so traditional ingredients such as maple syrup and pecans, I also opted for Cointreau as my tipple of choice rather than brandy, as well as a good sprinkling of cinnamon and mixed spice.

You’ve got plenty of time to make this pud and then top it up with more alcohol each week so it's ready for it's after dinner debut. Don’t be put off by what might seem like an unnecessarily excessive cooking time. Yes, 6 hours is a long time to wait for anything but the beauty of a Christmas pudding is that you don’t actually do much. Everything goes into the bowl, give it a good stir, and then just let it do its thing. Give it another 2 hour steam before serving and you've got yourself a wickedly good end to Christmas day.

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R E C I P E

500g Dried mixed fruits
170ml Cointreau
100g Plain Flour
80g Light Muscovado Sugar
40g Dark Muscovado Sugar
150g Suet
125g Fresh Breadcrumbs
1 ½ tsp Ground Cinnamon
1 ½ tsp Mixed Spice
Zest of 1 Large Orange
70g Chopped Pecans
1 Bramely Apple, cored and finely chopped
2 tbsp chopped stem ginger
2 medium eggs, beaten
2 tbsp maple syrup

Pecan Cranberry Sauce
80g butter
80g Light Muscavdao Sugar
2 tbsp Cointreau
Handful Cranberries
Handful Pecans

M E T H O D

Add the dried fruits and the liqueur to a bowl and leave to steep for a few hours or preferably overnight.
In a separate bowl, mix together the flour, sugar, suet and breadcrumbs and spices. Add in the zest, chopped apple and pecans and stem ginger.
Mix in the eggs, maple syrup and soaked fruits.
Get the family round so everyone can have a stir and then transfer the mixture to a greased pudding basin pressing it down firmly.
If your basin doesn’t have a lid cover it with a layer of baking parchment and then a layer of tin foil tying it firmly with some string. Tie another piece of string across the top to make a handle and steam the pudding for 6 hours on an upturned saucer in a large saucepan.
Fill it with boiling water that comes halfway up the pudding bowl and cover.
Once steamed, leave to cool and store in a cool dry place. When you’re ready to eat the pudding, steam it again for another 2 hours before serving.

For the pecan sauce:

Melt the butter and sugar together in a pan and then toss in the pecans cooking for about a minute.
Stir in the cranberries and the liqueur allow to bubble for a couple more minutes.
When ready to serve the pudding, spoon the sauce over the top.

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