Stir Up Sunday – Making Christmas Pudding

I have a confession to make. I hate Christmas pudding, Christmas cake and mincemeat – mainly because I don’t like raisins, sultanas, glace cherries and mixed peel. ick.

This year, we are having lots of lovely people to us for Christmas day and so I thought I’d better make a traditional pudding.

Stir up Sunday, which falls on the last Sunday in November before Advent, is the day when we’re all supposed to scuttle into our kitchens and prepare our cakes and puddings to give them plenty of time to mature into dark, sticky sweets and making them this far in advance also means that they can be fed with brandy or rum for a good few weeks before the big day.

The night before making my pud, I put a pound coin into some coca-cola over night to give it a good clean.

Coca-Cola is like bleach

I’ve never made a christmas pud before so I had a good look through my recipe books, and online, before plumping for a fairly basic recipe – with a couple of my own personal tweaks.

Look at that adorable pudding bowl

I macerated the dried fruits, substituting a little of the horrible raisins for horrible glace cherries, in my Christmas Pudding Rum, and a splash of Cointreau.

Soaking the fruit should plump it up (is that true? Maybe it's just to disguise the taste)

and left it to stew in it’s own juices for an hour or so. I then zested an orange and lemon using my amazing new gadget.

Zester of brilliance

Yep, I’ve got yet another new helper in the kitchen and it is awesome! It fits onto your knuckles and as you  gently rub away at the skin of the fruit it grates it very finely giving you perfect zest in a little box with no mess or aggravation.


I couldn’t be bothered to grate the apple shown in the ingredients photo, so for that reason, it’s out.

I added the zest, spices (cinnamon, nutmeg and mixed spice), suet, sugar and plain flour to the marinated fruit, popped the cleaned coin into the mixture and stirred it up!

Well, that looks...vile.

Traditionally each member of the family, starting with the youngest, gets to have a stir of the mixture and make a wish.

I wonder what he wished for...

Tom was out so he didn’t get a wish. I guess I should be grateful or I might have been melted and unable, therefore, to write this post.

I prepared circles of foil to fit onto the top of the basins and large circles (a good few inches wider than the circumference of the bowls)of greaseproof paper before packing the mixture into two bowls. (Lucky Nana might be getting one of these)

This is NOT like a cake batter at all. (It looks a bit maggoty)

The next bit – the tying of the paper onto the basins was a total nightmare. The full basins were awkward, the string kept sliding off the slippery surface of the greaseproof paper and it was frustrating, until I called for help and finally managed to secure the bloody things.


The puddings need to steam now for 5-6 hours. I KNOW! That’s bloody MAD! FIVE TO SIX HOURS and then they have to be steamed again on Christmas day for a further 2-3 hours. It’s not even bloody NICE and it takes eight hours to cook and – let’s face it – a month to mature.

Waste. Of. Time.

Unless you like Christmas pudding that is, in which case, I expect it all sounds very reasonable.

I placed one pudding into a steamer pan, and the other into a large saucepan with an inverted saucer on the bottom, and boiling water poured to 3/4 of the way up the bowl and left them to it.

Lid on

The noise of it! The water bubbling and boiling, the lids ticking, the steam escaping! My kitchen sounded like some sort of steampunk dream.

After the first couple of hours had passed (and condensation dripped from every window pane) it suddenly started to smell a lot like Christmas in the Spanner home.

It’s very important to keep a close eye on the water levels. I let the steamer pan boil dry twice and only noticed when the bubbling from the kitchen had changed from a low bubbling sound to a high pitched crackly screech.

After five and a half hours, and just as Antiques Roadshow started it’s comforting theme tune, I removed the puddings and left them to cool.

Cooling Puddings

Once they were cold I replaced the foil and paper for fresh, before stashing in a dark cupboard.

Ready to go and be the mature and manly puddings they should be

For the recipe have a look here – if you started this weekend I’m sure it would be fine.


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Posted on 11/22/2011, in Cooking and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 7 Comments.

  1. MartyrStewart

    Why??? Very impressive and I love your pudding bowl, but you do know you can buy a microwavable pud for less than five English pounds?

  2. when I was in the military we used a liter of coke a cola to remove rust off of our grounding rods…worked like a charm(although for ever afterwards I figured anything that was capable of eating rust of steel rods was not soemthing I wanted to drink anymore).
    One of these days I’m going to have to introduce you to my mother so ya’ll can talk kitchen gadgets!

  3. Love your post, and I LOVE Xmas pudding.

    But not enough to make my own. Especially as I am the only one in the house who eats Xmas pudding.

    I buy a little individual one.

  4. I love you because you manage to make the posts genuinely useful and inspiring whilst simultaneously saying things like WASTE.OF.TIME. That doesn’t happen over on Martha Stewart.

    And by the way, reading this post (on 30 Nov) is the closest I’ve come to doing anything vaguely Christmas-prep-related. This despite the fact I am, for the first time, hosting Christmas for PIL, parents & sundry randoms. *clings, weeping*

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