Is Stir Up Sunday a dying custom, or do you, or anyone you know, look forward to it every November?
When was stir up Sunday and why is it so important?
Homemade Plum Puddings and the mincemeat for the pies should be made in good time, so that the ingredients have time to mature and mellow.
According to an old British custom they should be ready for ‘ Stir-up’ Sunday, or the last Sunday in Trinity, when they should be solemnly carried around and stirred by everyone, from the head of the house to the youngest member. Stir Up Sunday fell on the 26th November 2017 and will be on the 25th November 2018.
1922 Christmas Pudding recipe for Stir-Up Sunday
by Florence B. Jack
(recipes updated from original in Christmas edition Good Housekeeping)
- 225 g / 2 cups / 1/2 lb. Flour
- 335 g / 6 cups / 3/4 lb Bread-crumbs
- 450 g / 1 lb. Suet
- 450 g / 2 cups + 2 tablespoons / 1 lb. Demerara Sugar
- 450g / 1 lb. / 2.6 cups Currants
- 225 g / 1.5 cups / 1/2 lb. Sultanas
- 450 g / 1 lb. / 2.6 cups Raisins
- 170 g / 6 oz. /1.5 cups Candied Peel
- 1 teacupful Marmalade
- 2 large Apples
- 1 Lemon
- 1 teaspoonful Salt
- 1 dessertspoonful mixed Spice
- 6 Eggs
- 1 or 2 glasses Rum
- Milk or Stout
First prepare the fruit. Stone the raisins if necessary, and either chop them slightly or put them through a mincing machine. Pick and clean the currants and sultanas, and shred the peel or put it through a coarse mincer. Peel and chop the apples, and grate the lemon rind. Then chop the suet, unless it is already prepared, and make the breadcrumbs by rubbing rather stale bread through a wire sieve. Mix all the dry ingredients in a large basin. Beat the eggs and add them with the marmalade and strained lemon juice. Stir these in, and if necessary add a little milk or stout to moisten. When the ingredients are thoroughly blended, cover the basin and let the mixture stand for 24 hours. Then add the rum, or brandy or sherry if preferred, and let the pudding have its final ” stir-up.” Pack into well-greased moulds or basins, cover with greased paper, or the special lids, and steam from 4 to 5 hours according to size. Then re-cover with paper dipped in spirit, and parchment paper on the top. Keep the puddings in a cool place and steam again when required.
This quantity is sufficient to make two good-sized puddings.
A few shredded almonds or chopped walnuts, and some preserved cherries may be added to the above mixture.
The spirit may be omitted from the mixture, but the pudding will not keep so well. It is quite a nice idea to make up portions of the mixture in small moulds or tins as presents.
Before serving the pudding stick a piece of holly with bright red berries in the top. Then pour a glassful of rum or brandy around the base and set a light to it just before putting it on the table. The dish must be hot and perfectly dry or the spirit will not burn well.
There are several different sauces suitable for serving with plum pudding. Here are three or four to choose from.
Snow-drift Sauce for Christmas Pudding
- 55 g /2 oz / ¼ cup butter
- 110 g /¼ lb/ ½ cup caster or icing sugar
- ½ teaspoonful vanilla
- 1 dessertspoonful brandy or rum
Put the butter into a basin and beat it to a cream with a wooden spoon. Sieve the sugar and add it gradually, then flavour with the vanilla and brandy or rum, or any other flavouring preferred. Set the sauce in a cool place to harden, and serve piled up in a little fancy dish. The stiffly beaten white of 1 egg is sometimes stirred into the mixture, and a little nutmeg may be sprinkled over the top.
Wine Sauce for Plum Pudding
- 1 tablespoon flour
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 210 ml / 0.9 cups water
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 70 ml / 4.5 tablespoons sherry
Melt the butter in a saucepan and stir in the flour. Then add the water and stir until boiling. Cook for 2 or 3 minutes and add the wine at the last.
Orange Sauce for Plum Pudding
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 tablespoon flour
- 280 ml / 1.2 cups / ½ pint water
- 1 or 2 yolks of eggs
- 1 tablespoon sugar
Wipe the orange, grate off the rind and rub it into the sugar. Melt the butter in a saucepan and stir in the flour. Then pour in the water and stir until boiling. Add the sugar and the strained juice of the orange, and simmer slowly for 2 or 3 minutes. Then remove the saucepan from the heat, and quickly stir in the yolk or yolks of eggs. Pour at once into a sauceboat.
Lemon Sauce can be made in the same way by substituting lemon for orange.
Sweet Mincemeat for Mince Pies
- 225 g / 1/2 lb / 1.3 cups Raisins
- 1/2 lb / 225 g / 1.3 cups Currants
- 1/2 lb / 225 g / 2 cups Sultanas
- 1/2 lb. dried Figs or Apricots
- 110 g / 1/4 lb / 1 cup Candied Peel
- 450 g / 1 lb 2 cups + 2 tablespoons Demerara Sugar
- 1 teacupful shelled Nuts
- 225 g / 1/2 lb. Suet
- 2 tablespoons Marmalade
- 1 dessertspoon Mixed Spice
- ½ teaspoon Salt
- 1 Orange and 1 Lemon
- 2 glasses Rum
- 1 glass Sherry
Clean the fruit and chop the raisins. Peel and chop the apples, shred and chop the peel. Wash the apricots or figs, let them soak in water until soft, then dry and chop them. Grate the rind very thinly off the orange and lemon and strain the juice. Be sure that the suet is very finely chopped, and chop the nuts roughly. Mix all the ingredients very thoroughly, cover and stand for 24 hours, and add the wine and spirit at the last. Pack into sterilised pots and cover in the same way as jam.
This mincemeat will keep good for a year. If it becomes dry, a little more wine or spirit should be added.
To make Mince Pies
(1) Any good pastry may be used. Roll it out to about 6mm / ¼ of an inch in thickness, and stamp out rounds with a cutter about 75mm / 3 inches in diameter. Wet half the number of rounds with a little cold water and put a good teaspoonful of mincemeat in the centre of each. Cover with the other rounds and press the two edges well together. Make a small hole in the top of each, brush over with slightly beaten white of egg, and dredge with sugar. Bake in a good oven from 15 to 20 minutes.
(2) Another method is to line greased patty-tins with rounds of pastry, fill up with mincemeat, wet round, and to cover with a second round of pastry. This method allows of more mincemeat to be used.
(3) Or, a larger mince pie may be made by covering a flat dish or tin with a thin layer of pastry, then putting in a good layer of mincemeat and covering with another piece of pastry. The edges may be fluted with a knife, and a few pastry leaves used to decorate.
Mince pies can be kept for a few days if stored in a tin box with a tight-fitting lid. When reheating cover with paper to prevent them taking more colour in the oven.
There is a traditional belief that one gains a happy month in the coming year for every mince pie eaten between December 16th and New Year’s Day.