That’s right, Sunday 20 November is stir-up Sunday. Which means it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas *excitedface*
Is there anything more triumphant than a homemade Christmas pud? We don’t think so. So ditch the microwaveable figgy puds from the shops, take a deep breath and make your own this year – with these top tips and failsafe recipes, you really can't go wrong.
The 10 Christmas pudding commandments
1. Use the freshest ingredients. This is no time for stale spices lurking at the back of the cupboard – a big pud calls for big flavours.
2. Pick your sugars wisely. Dark muscovado gives puddings a rich, natural caramel and molasses flavour, while light muscovado adds a subtle honey note.
3. Get all the family round to give the mix a stir and make a Christmas wish (arguably the best part of making your own pud).
4. Put a long piece of folded foil under your Christmas pudding as you're steaming it, with a bit poking out at each side, so you can lift it out of the pan easily at the end.
5. And when steaming, put a trivet, upturned saucer or scrunched-up foil in the bottom of the pot, so the base of your pudding bowl doesn’t touch the bottom.
1. Don't bother sterilising the 'sixpence' – the pud is going to be boiled for a long while, so a wash and scrub is all the coin needs.
2. Don't skimp on ingredients. The proof is in the pudding after all! Use good quality candied peel and dried fruits, but save that vintage congac for drinking – the booze will be boiled away.
3. Don't rush. All that soaking, stirring and steaming is going to take the best part of the day. Put the radio on and make your peace with that now.
4. Don't use too much booze. Feed your pud gradually over the coming weeks, otherwise the brandy won't be absorbed evenly and will end up sitting at the bottom of the bowl.
5. Don't, obviously, use beef suet if you've got veggie friends visiting. Grated butter or vegetarian suet also work just as well.
Want a classic, foolproof figgy pud?
You can't go wrong with Rosemary Shrager's tried and tested Christmas pudding recipe. Made with all the usual nuts and spices, there's grated carrot in there to make it extra moist, too.
Fancy something a bit different?
This cranberry and gingerbread Christmas pudding looks like something out of a fairytale.
Oops, I’ve missed stir-up Sunday. Am I too late?
Nah. Purists would say you’ve got to make everything ahead, but no one will know if you don’t tell them. If there's really no time left, just abandon the whole thing and bake this last-minute tropical Christmas cake (by Francis Quinn of GBBO fame), or whip up some of these 'homemade' mince pies.
OK, I admit it – I don’t even like Christmas pudding
Rest assured other things can be stirred up on stir-up Sunday (a vodka martini being one of them). Mix up a sophisticated biscotti and pistachio trifle or feast your eyes on this blood orange and chocolate ice cream bombe, which can be kept in the freezer until the big day – if you can keep your hands off it, that is!