From adding a dash of curry powder to mixing up your fruits from left to right, top chefs have revealed their quirky secrets to making the perfect Christmas pudding for Stir Up Sunday.
The day is a centuries-old tradition, marking the date when most families make their Christmas puddings and cakes.
These festive treats get better with age, and should be matured for at least one month before Christmas, which is why the best cooks make the desserts on the last Sunday before advent at the latest.
The tradition states that every member of the family stirs the mixture, making a Christmas wish as they do so.
Here, top chefs tell FEMAIL their techniques to make the traditional dish – from spicing it up with a dash of umani to steaming with lemon.
From adding a dash of curry powder to mixing up your fruits from left to right, top chefs have revealed their secrets to making the perfect Christmas pudding for Stir Up Sunday.
ADD A TEASPOON OF WHITE MISO
Chef Ryan Riley is the co-founder of Life Kitchen, a not-for-profit cookery school for people whose taste has been affected by Covid, cancer or cancer treatment.
He told FEMAIL: ‘Adding a teaspoon of white miso to your Christmas pudding this year can give an umami boost for those who are struggling with taste.
‘Umami, our fifth taste, boosts all of your other basic taste receptors ensuring your palette has a fighting chance of picking up the flavours.
‘Adding a strong sour flavour to Christmas pudding might seem strange but try adding a good amount of pomegranate molasses to add tang, boost acidity and balance flavours.
SLOW COOK THE PUDDING
Mimi Morley, Recipe Development Manager at HelloFresh added to FEMAIL: ‘When making a Christmas Pudding, the issue so many often encounter is pudding becoming soggy.
‘This is usually caused when steaming the pudding, because people often put too much water in the pan or boil the water too aggressively. The process should be slow and steady so as not to overwhelm the dessert with moisture.
”Many also run into the issue of the pudding becoming mushy. This can also be due to steaming for too long.
‘Whilst you can’t technically overcook a Christmas pudding, the texture can change and make it less delightful than usual!
‘If you run into these issues frequently, try a different method for making the pudding, such as slow cooking. Whilst not as traditional, it will limit the problems you may run into.’
Add a penny for good luck and stir from east to west to honour long-held traditions
Val Stones, baking expert at stairlift and homelift company Stannah (and 2016 Great british Bake Off contestant) has always taken part in Stir Up Sundays,’ she advised.
‘When stirring the pudding, take it in turns from East to West (in your kitchen) to commemorate the journey of the Wise Men travelling to Jesus in Bethlehem,’
‘As you take it in turns to stir, close your eyes, and make a wish for the coming year
‘When steaming, place a lemon quarter with the water in the steamer pans (this will stop the pan discolouring)
‘It’s traditional to add coins (usually we use some old sixpence). Originally charms were added to Christmas puddings; a silver coin for wealth, a wishbone for luck, a thimble for thrift, a ring for marriage and an anchor for safe harbour.
Don’t forget to warn your guests about hard objects in their pudding.
‘If adding a coin to the pudding, do so just before serving and wrap it in greaseproof ‘paper,’ Val added
Soak pudding for two days
‘Allow your fruits to soak for two days if you can, to produce the best pudding,’ said Great British Bake Off contestant and cookbook author Val Stones.
‘Pay attention to the size of your puddings. When you’re steaming them – a 1lb pudding will need six hours, but a 2lb pudding will need eight hours.
Store in a wet cloth
‘Never store Christmas pudding directly in foil; the fruit acids will react with the metal and spoil the bake.
‘Instead wrap in waxed cloth or greaseproof paper before foil, or place in an airtight container,’ Val added.
Add curry powder
Oli Martin, head chef Hipping Hall, had an unusual tip for adding a hint of spice to your Christmas pudding.
He told Femail: ‘If you sit in the Christmas pudding camp, this one’s for you. I came across this recipe while working in Australia which used tinned pineapple and a teaspoon of curry powder and honestly I haven’t looked back since!
‘My secret Christmas tip is one for unbeatable mince pies that I came across a few years ago.
‘Simply put an over ripe banana into your mince mix, and it makes them extra gooey and super sticky!
Soak your fruit in booze
Mark Hartstone, chef proprietor of the award-winning La Fosse at Cranborne added: ‘In preparation for making your Christmas pudding it’s vital that you soak your fruit in booze prior to the big stir.
‘The useful hack here is to warm the alcohol of your choice as this fastens the fruit softening process, however do not boil. Using a tipple you love or is important to your family also makes your pudding extra special. I like to use our homemade blackthorn whisky, a rather special La Fosse at Cranborne take on sloe gin.’
Now try them for yourself….
Paul Ainsworth Mini Christmas pudding recipe
These individual puddings are bound to impress. You can make them on Stir Up Sunday, and then feed them with alcohol in the run up to Christmas.
- 175g currants
- · 175g sultanas
- · 140g glace cherry
- · 50g mixed peel
- · 50g flaked almonds
- · Zest 1 orange
- · Zest 1 lemon
- · 175g butter
- · 2 eggs beaten
- · 1 carrot peeled and grated
- · 150ml brandy
- · 50 triple sec
- · 175g light muscovado sugar
- · 175g breadcrumbs
- · 125g self raising flour
- · 1 tsp mixed peel
- · ¼ tsp grated nutmeg
1. Soak the dried fruit with the brandy and triple sec and leave for at least a few days before making the puddings, the longer you soak the better the results! Its not unusual to soak dried fruit a year before you make minced pies or Christmas puddings. You can also make the puddings on Stir Up Sunday and then feed with booze in the lead up to Christmas.
2. Mix the fruit, almonds, citrus zest and the carrot in a large bowl. Cover and leave to soak, if you want to add an extra glug of brandy to make the puddings boozier than this wouldn’t affect the recipe, you can achieve a slightly more moister pudding.
3. Mix all the dry ingredients together, grate in the butter then add the eggs and stir.
4. Grease the pudding moulds with butter if you have caramelized brown butter this will add more depth and flavour to the pudding, fill each mould with 80g of mix and then tin foil each mould.
5. The best way to cook the pudding is steaming in an oven, or you can place into a pan with water and cook with a lid on for 45 minutes, make sure the pan doesn’t dry by adding more water throughout the cooking.
6. Serve with pouring cream or my favourite Cornish clotted cream.
Caorunn Negroni Christmas Pudding Recipe by Sven Hanson Britt
Traditionally people make their Christmas Pudding a few months in advance, so it can sit and infuse with all of the delicious and succulent flavours ahead of Christmas Day.
Caorunn Gin has partnered with MasterChef The Professionals Finalist, Sven Hanson Britt, to create a bespoke Caorunn Negroni Christmas Pudding Recipe containing a delicious infusion of Caorunn’s locally foraged Scottish Botanicals as well as a hint of apple, juniper and Caorunn Gin.
The dried fruit to be soaked
· 90g sultanas
· 90g currants
· 90g raisins
· 18g chopped glace cherries
· 18g mixed peel
· 22.5g prunes
The fresh ingredients
· 1 cooking apple – grated
· 20g carrot – grated
· 1 small orange, zest and juice
· 1 lemon, zest only
· 1 small egg
· 10ml milk (of your choice)
· ½ teaspoon mixed spice
· ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
· ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
· 2g crystalised ginger, chopped finely
· ½ teaspoon juniper, powdered or crushed finely
The soaking syrup
· 25ml Black tea syrup infused with heather, apple and juniper
· 18ml Guinness
· 40ml Caorunn Negroni
· 15ml sherry
· 15ml dark rum
· 7.5ml cognac
The dry ingredients
· 37.5g plain flour
· 16g ground almonds
· 50g dried breadcrumbs
· 37.5g dark brown sugar
· 5g sea salt
· 55g suet, veggie
· Baking parchment
· Tin foil
1. First, 2 days before you want to make the pudding, make the soaking syrup by creating an infusion of strong black tea, a little heather, juniper berries and apple skin.
2. Make a classic negroni mix with the Caorunn Gin, Campari and Vermouth Rosso. Mix this with the black tea syrup and the other alcohols and pour it over the dried fruit. Leave this covered in the fridge to soak for 2 days, stirring occasionally. Stirring it whenever you open the fridge to get milk for your cup of tea is about the correct frequency.
3. When you’re ready to make the pudding mix, place all of the dry ingredients into a large bowl and add in the spices. Then add the fresh ingredients. The milk you choose to use is completely up to your preference.
4. Remove the soaked fruits from the liquid and add to the mix – retaining whatever juice and soaking syrup remains – you’ll need this later.
5. Mix everything very well with your hands for a few minutes and pack it into a pudding basin, ensuring the top is flat and there aren’t any air bubbles inside
6. Cover the top with a perfectly cut ‘cartouche’ of greaseproof or silicon paper and then wrap the top with a tight fitting lid of tin foil.
7. Let this sit in the fridge for 24 hours before cooking. Once ready to cook, prepare a pan suitable for your bain marie, place a small side plate into the base of the pan and half fill it with water. Place the pudding basin into the pan and make sure it sits well on the plate. Bring this water to a boil and drop it down to a simmer and simmer it for 5 hours, checking and replenishing the water when necessary. This stage can also be done really efficiently in a steam oven.
8. Once the cooking is finished, allow it to cool in the pan before removing and storing in a cool and dark place.
9. 24 hours after cooking, comes the time to make use of that excess soaking syrup. Remove the tin foil and greaseproof cartouche and pour the syrup over your pudding and allow all of that deliciousness to soak in. Replace the cartouche, discard the tinfoil, and then cling film the pudding and keep it somewhere cool until Christmas. This stage can be repeated as little or as often as you like. Every time you make a Caorunn Negroni, make a small one for your pudding and pour it over. It’ll lead to a very jolly Christmas!
10. On Christmas day, heat your pudding in exactly the same way as you cooked it, but this time leave it simmering for 1 hour and it will be hot in the middle. Pour over another glug of Caorunn gin before serving it at the table – becoming the coolest person in the whole house at that precise moment. Serve with loads of cold brandy butter and hot cognac and juniper crème anglaise.
BBC Good Food Easy Mincemeat recipe
Make homemade mincemeat for your Christmas bakes. It’s a lot easier than you might think, and the recipe can be scaled up or down. This works well as a gift, too.
Lulu Grimes, Managing Editor of BBC Good Food, said: ‘Stir-up Sunday is the perfect chance to bake-ahead for celebrating an extra-special Christmas together with family, friends and loved ones after the disappointments of last year.
‘Our Easy mincemeat is so versatile it can be used in traditional mince pies, or in some of fantastic mincemeat recipes on bbcgoodfood.com including mincemeat Chelsea buns, mincemeat shortbread, or pear & mincemeat crumble cake.
Home-made baked gifts are very on-trend this year, and this mincemeat recipe is perfect for preserving in a jar and giving to someone special.’
75g mixed peel
1 lemon, zested and juiced
75g suet (check it’s vegetarian and gluten-free, if needed)
1 small cooking apple, peeled, cored and finely chopped
1½ tsp mixed spice
1 tsp ground cinnamon
200g dark muscovado sugar
1. Put all the ingredients, except the brandy, in a large saucepan. Cook over a low heat for 10 mins, stirring occasionally, until the sugar and suet have completely dissolved.
2. Remove from the heat and leave to cool to room temperature before stirring in the brandy. The mincemeat may look loose at this stage, but it will continue to thicken.
You can encase it in pastry as soon as it’s cooled.
Alternatively, spoon the warm mincemeat into a large sterilised jar or several smaller ones (see tip, below). Will keep in a cool, dry place for up to six months.
Use in our unbelievably easy mince pies, or try our mincemeat Chelsea buns, mincemeat shortbread, or pear & mincemeat crumble cake.
Swap the raisins for 100g dried cranberries, then add 2 tbsp finely chopped stem ginger and ½ tsp ground ginger.
Wash the jars and their lids in hot, soapy water, then sit upside-down on a draining board to drain and dry. Heat the oven to 100C and dry the jars and lids inside for 20 mins. Spoon in the mincemeat while it’s warm, using a funnel if you have one. Cover with a circle of baking parchment, then the lid.
Vegan Xmas Pudding by Louise Palmer-Masterton of the award winning Stem & Glory restaurants
This pudding recipe can be as boozy as you like! Adapt as you see fit. The criss-cross greaseproof paper strips lining the bowl are key to a successful turn out of your pudding on the day – a technique honed after a few flopped puddings over the years!
• 2/3 cup plain flour
• 2/3 cup dried or semi dried breadcrumbs
• 1 tsp ground nutmeg
• 1 tsp mixed spice
• 1 tsp cinnamon
• 1/2 tsp salt
• 1/3 cup of Guinness or vegan stout or brandy (substitute rice milk for a teetotal pudding)
• 1/3 cup dark brown sugar
• 1/2 cup vegan suet
• ½ tsp baking powder
• 1 ½ tbsp black treacle or molasses
• 2 1/4 cups mixed dried fruit optionally soaked minimum 24 hours in 1/2 cup sherry
1. Sift the flour, spices, salt and baking powder.
2. Add all the other ingredients and mix well. Add a little more flour if the mix seems wet
3. Grease a 1.2 litre (2 pint) pudding basin. Line with two wide strips of greaseproof paper at right angles to each other, in a cross, with an inch showing at the top of the basin, to help you turn the pudding out when it’s done.
4. Carefully pour the mix into the basin. Cover with a round of greaseproof paper on top of the pudding. Create a secure lid with foil and fix in place with string.
5. Place an upside-down saucer into a large saucepan and place the pudding on top of the saucer. Add boiling water up to a max level of half-way up the pudding basin.
6. Simmer for 4 1/2 hours
7. Allow the pudding to cool. Store in a cool place for up to one month
8. To serve at Xmas. Steam again for 3 hours, or microwave for 3-5 minutes
Serve this pudding with vegan brandy butter – simply mix equal amounts of vegan margarine (preferably vegan block) and icing sugar. Add 2 tablespoons of brandy per 100g, or according to taste. Chill until set and serve onto the hot pudding.
Daylesford Farm’s family Christmas pudding recipe
60g self-raising flour, sifted
120g white breadcrumbs
240g demerara sugar
1 apple, grated
Grated zest of 1 orange
Grated zest of 1 lemon
1 tablespoon candied orange peel
1 tablespoon candied lemon peel
1 teaspoon mixed spice
1 teaspoon mixed ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
30g chopped almonds
70ml white wine
In a large bowl, mix together the suet, flour, breadcrumbs and sugar, then add the dried fruits, apple, zests, peel, spices and almonds.
Beat the eggs with the rum, wine and stout in a separate bowl, then pour in and mix thoroughly to give a thick batter. Cover the bowl and leave overnight in the fridge. The next day, take it out and stir.
Grease a 1.1 litre overproof pudding basin with butter, fill the basin with the pudding mixture and smooth the top. Cover the basin with a double layer of greaseproof paper, make a pleat in the centre and then follow with a sheet of foil. Tie a piece of string around the basin to secure the foil and paper in place. Place on a trivet inside a large pan. Pour in enough boiling water to come halfway up the outside of the bowl, then cover the pan and keep the water simmering for 8 hours, topping up with boiling water from a kettle from time to time.
The pudding can either be eaten straightaway, or cooled, rewrapped and stored for up to a year. Re-steam in the same way for 2 ½ hours before serving.
Vivek Singh’s Garam Masala Christmas Pudding
· 100g/4oz dried apricots, chopped (to about the same size as the raisins)
· 100g/4oz dried figs, chopped (to about the same size as the raisins)
· 100g/4oz dried black currants
· 100g/4oz seedless raisins
· 100g/4oz sultanas
· 75g/3oz candied lemon and orange peel, finely chopped
· 1 tsp ground garam masala
· ½ tsp freshly grated nutmeg
· 150ml/5fl oz dark rum
· 4 tbsp brandy
· 1 orange, zest and juice
· 50g/2oz almonds, finely chopped
· 50g/2oz walnuts, finely chopped
· 50g/2oz pecan nuts, finely chopped
· 50g/2oz pine nuts, finely chopped
· 50g/2oz brazil nuts, finely chopped
· 50g/2oz cashew nuts, finely chopped
· 1 lemon, zest and juice
· 225g/8oz salted butter
· 225g/8oz muscovado sugar
· 3 free-range eggs
· 150g/5oz plain flour
· butter, for greasing pudding bowls
1. Place all the dry fruits, nuts and spices into a large bowl and mix together thoroughly.
2. Add the rum and brandy and mix together well with your hands. Cover and leave it overnight to soak in the flavours.(we macerate the fruit and nuts for at least a month)
3. Cream the butter and sugar together until smooth. Add the eggs, one at a time and continue mixing until all the eggs are incorporated into the mixture.
4. Fold in the flour and the soaked fruits and nuts.
5. Divide the mixture between two greased 1½ litre/2½ pint heatproof pudding bowls, filling almost to the rim, then smooth down the surface.
6. Cover each bowl with a large square of greaseproof paper, then cover that with a large square of aluminium foil. Tie the two sheets tightly into place under the rim with string, leaving long ends of excess string to make a handle. Loop one of the excess string lengths over the pudding basin and slide underneath the taut string holding the sheets in place on the other side. Bring up the string and firmly knot with the other piece of excess string, to form a secure handle to lift the pudding in and out of the water.
7. To cook, stand both puddings on a trivet in a large, deep, heavy-based pan (or each pudding in a separate pan). Pour boiling water into the pan(s), enough to come about halfway up the sides of the bowls.
8. Cover the pan(s) with a lid or a dome of foil and boil for seven hours. Check the water level regularly, topping it up with more boiling water as necessary to keep the bowls half submerged.
9. After seven hours, remove the bowls from the pan and leave to cool. Untie and remove the foil and greaseproof sheets and replace with clean, dry sheets of both greaseproof paper and foil.
10. Store in a cool, dry place. To reheat at Christmas-time, return to a pan containing a few inches of boiling water, cover and steam for two hours, checking the water levels now and then, until completely heated through.
11. serve with warm custard flavoured with nutmeg