Stir-up Sunday is traditionally the last Sunday before the start of Advent, and one which finds many a British kitchen up to its elbows in raisins, sultanas, butter, and brandy. Folklore holds that everyone in the household who stirs the batter will have good luck in the coming year. We give you this lovely pudding well in advance of Christmas so you’ll have time to ‘stir-up’ and ‘feed’ the cake in preparation for the festive day!
2½ oz. butter, softened (5 tbs.), plus extra for greasing
1 lb. dried fruit, a mixture of raisins, sultanas, and snipped apricots (3 cups)
1 small cooking apple, peeled, cored, and roughly chopped
finely grated zest and juice of 1 orange
2 fl. oz. brandy or rum (1/4 cup), plus more for feeding
4 oz. light muscovado sugar (½ cup plus 2 tbs.)
2 eggs, beaten
4 oz. self-rising flour (¾ cup plus 1 tbs.)
1 tsp. mixed spice
1½ oz. fresh white breadcrumbs (¾ cup)
1½ oz. whole almonds, roughly chopped (¼ cup)
Lightly butter a 6-cup pudding basin. Cut a small square of foil and press into the base.
Measure the dried fruit, apples, orange juice, and brandy or rum into a bowl and leave to soak for 1 hour.
Put the butter, sugar, and grated orange zest into a large bowl and cream together with a wooden spoon or electric whisk until light and fluffy. Gradually beat in the eggs, adding a little of the flour if the mixture stars to curdle. Sift together the flour and mixed spice, then fold into the creamed mixture with the breadcrumbs and nuts. Add the marinated fruit, plus any remaining liquid and stir well. Spoon into the prepared pudding basin, pressing the mixture down and leveling the top with the back of the spoon.
Lay a piece of baking parchment over a large sheet of foil, then pleat the middle to allow for expansion. Cover the pudding with the foil side up and smooth down the sides. Tie securely with string and trim off the excess.
To steam, place steaming rack or a metal jam jar ring into the base of a large pot to act as a trivet. Put in the pudding and pour in enough boiling water to come one-third the way up the bowl. Cover with a lid, bring the water to a boil, then reduce and simmer for 7 hours, topping off the water as necessary.
Remove the pudding from the pot and cool completely. Remove the foil and parchment. Using a fine skewer, make holes in the pudding and top with more brandy or rum to feed. Place a clean sheet of foil on top and store in a cool, dry place. Feed once a week until Christmas.
On Christmas Day, steam or boil the pudding for about 1 hour to reheat. Turn the pudding onto a serving plate. To flame, warm 3-4 tbs. brandy or rum in a small pan, pour it over the hot pudding and set light to it. Serve with brandy butter or cream.