Traditionalists out there may think that November is too early to be getting into the Christmas spirit, but we think once we get to ‘Stir-up Sunday’ – which this year falls on Sunday 21 November – it’s time to pour a glass of something festive and at least check the rungs of the loft ladder for sturdiness in preparation for fetching the decorations down.
Stir-up Sunday is the last Sunday before Advent when, tradition has it, families get together to make the Christmas pudding, taking turns to stir up all the ingredients and make a wish. It is not, however, from this inter-generational wooden spoon wielding that Stir-up Sunday gets its name, but rather from the lesson for this day in the Book of Common Prayer, which starts, “Stir up, we beseech thee, O Lord, the wills of thy faithful people.”
Lugger Rum for a pirate pudding
The origins of a ‘plum pudding’ as part of the British and Irish Christmas dinner date back to medieval times, yet despite its name the pudding contained no actual plums and instead refers to the pre-Victorian use of the word ‘plums’ as a term for raisins.
Early concoctions were little more than suet, dried fruit, breadcrumbs, flour, eggs, and spice, along with milk or fortified wine, and it wasn’t until much later those recipes became more elaborate. Most families have their own favoured mix, often including sticky delights such as candied peel, dates, prunes, treacle, and dark brown sugar – not forgetting the tooth-shattering silver pennies said to bring good fortune to the finder (or their dentist) in the year ahead.
The mixture is moistened with the juice of citrus fruits, brandy, and other alcohol – indeed, some recipes call for dark beers such as mild, stout or porter – with assiduous pudding preparers ‘feeding’ the thirsty ball with their preferred tipple every few days in the weeks leading up to its consumption to make it super moist, not to mention potentially highly flammable.
As we are known for shaking things up when it comes to traditions, may we suggest substituting the brandy for hearty glugs of our spiced Jack Ratt Lugger Rum in your Christmas pudding recipe. Lugger is made from Caribbean rum aged in bourbon-charred oak barrels right here at the Winery, before we spice it with nutmeg, orange peel and cloves, as well as vanilla, and is sure to add a dash of infamous West Country piracy to your plummy pud.
Mulled Wine on hand
A delicious blend of damson and elderberry with notes of festive spices, we also recommend a generous glass of our Mulled Wine to fire up the festive spirit while you are making your pud. Just heat gently in a saucepan and serve warm, saving the rest of the bottle for the chilly winter evenings to come.
Bring out the Brandy
Christmas Day is the time to bring out the brandy. Pour a generous, warmed tot over the pudding and carefully light it for the heavenly scented wow factor. Our deliciously smooth Apricot Brandy is the perfect fruity choice, but you could go sweeter still with our Cherry Brandy, or dial things down a notch with the more subtly brooding Elderberry & Port.
You can also make your own brandy butter by beating together your chosen weight of butter with slightly less icing sugar and mixing in brandy to taste – or rum works too if you prefer.
Drink your pudding
If you like the taste of Christmas pudding but are not a fan of the stodgy pud itself, our Christmas Pudding Wine is a glorious alternative. It doesn’t contain the silver sixpence but has everything else you’d wish from a classic pud – deliciously rich and so similar to Christmas Pudding it has to be tasted to be believed.
Ready, set, stir!
With most people opting to buy their Christmas pudding from the shops these days, the ritual of Stir-up Sunday is at risk of falling by the wayside, so we hope these flavourful suggestions will inspire you to keep the tradition alive with some new recipe twists.
If you’d like to place an order for any of our award-winning drinks – not just the ones to pour into your pudding – then we’d love to see you here at the Cellar Door near Axminster in Devon, so do pop in if you are passing. Alternatively, you can always get in touch with our friendly team here at the Winery via email at [email protected] or by calling us on 01297 551355 if you’d like to order by phone. You can also find Lyme Bay on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook for updates, offers and giveaways – and if you don’t mind divulging family secrets then we’d love to hear your Christmas pudding recipes too.