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Stir up sunday

Stir up Sunday 2021 | triumph with a homemade Christmas pud

Stir up what?

I’m sorry to admit that I’d never heard of stir up Sunday before… but it is a tradition that harks back to Victorian times when the family would gather together to ‘stir up’ the Christmas pudding before the start of Advent and allow flavours to mature before the big day.

Stir up sunday

The opening words of the Book Of Common Prayer, used on the last Sunday before Advent, reads: “Stir up, we beseech thee, O Lord, the wills of thy faithful people,” so the tradition stands that this is the day to get stirring!

Stir up Sunday falls somewhere at the end of November before Advent begins and for 2021 this is Sunday 21st November – so get it in the diary!

The Stir up Sunday traditions

  • Christmas pudding would traditionally contain 13 ingredients to represent Jesus and his disciples.
  • It is traditionally stirred from East to West (while making a wish) to signify the way the Three Wise Men travelled to meet Jesus.
  • The customary garnish of holly represented the crown of thorns Jesus wore on the cross before his resurrection at Easter. Be warned: the holly berry is very toxic, so instead adorn your Christmas pud with fake foliage!
  • Adding coins to the pud was said to bring luck if you found them in your portion on Christmas Day.
  • Why do we light our Christmas pudding? It’s said that the flaming brandy represents the Passion of Christ.

Recipe time

Traditionally, the Christmas pudding is made on Stir up Sunday and many families will have a hand-me-down recipe which can vary quite considerably from household to household. However, if you don’t then read on for a simple Stir up Sunday recipe that you can build on and experiment with over the years.

Serves 4-6

Preparation time: 30-45 minutes, plus overnight soaking

Stir up sunday

Cooking time: 4 hours steaming plus an additional 2-3 hours on Christmas Day


  • 75g raisins
  • 75g sultanas
  • 50g dried figs, chopped
  • 25g mixed citrus peel
  • 20g glacé cherries, quartered
  • 10g stem ginger in syrup, chopped
  • 80ml sherry, or similar sweet wine
  • 60g light muscovado sugar
  • 35g self-raising flour
  • 35g fresh breadcrumbs
  • 1 tsp mixed spice
  • Pinch of fine sea salt
  • 75g of suet (or grated butter)
  • 15g pecans, toasted and roughly chopped
  • 1 medium egg
  • Juice of ½ orange
  • 50ml stout
  • Butter for greasing


1. Start the night before you want to mix the pudding. Combine the dried fruit in a bowl, and pour over the sherry. Give it a good stir to coat the fruit, then cover and leave overnight to soak. This allows the fruit to get fat, soft and boozy.

2. Add the light muscovado sugar to a mixing bowl, breaking up and large lumps between your fingertips. Next add the flour, breadcrumbs, mixed spice and a pinch of salt and mix to combine. Lastly, gently stir through the suet and chopped nuts.

3. Crack the egg into the dry mix, and break up the yolk with a wooden spoon. Give it a quick mix and then pour in the orange juice and stout. Mix again before adding the soaked fruit and any sherry left in the bottom of the bowl. Give the whole thing a really good stir until evenly combined. Thoroughly grease the 14cm Falcon bowl with butter and then spoon the pudding mix into the bowl, covering the top of the mix with a disk of baking parchment.

4. Cut a double layer of baking parchment and foil to cover the top of the pudding bowl, making a pleat in the middle to allow the pudding to rise slightly. Scrunch up the paper and foil roughly around the top of the bowl, then secure tightly with string, looping the excess length over the top of the bowl to make a handle.

5. Place the pudding bowl in a large pan, sitting on a small upturned plate, and then fill the pan with enough water to reach halfway up the bowl. Cover with a lid and steam slow and low for 4 hours, in gently simmering water. Keep an eye on the water level, and top it up with boiling water from the kettle if needs be. The pudding is cooked through when the internal temperature is at least 72ºC.

6. Once steamed and cooled, remove the paper and foil and replace with a fresh version, then store the pudding in a cool, dry place until Christmas day. You can feed the pudding weekly with a glug of brandy or more sherry for an extra boozy kick.

7. On Christmas Day, steam the pudding as before for 2-3 hours. Turn out on to a plate and serve with brandy butter. Enjoy!

Fancy some more?

In case you’d like some more Xmas inspo take a look at our other seasonal articles:



stir up sunday
stir up sunday
stir up sunday
stir up sunday

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