Stir-up a Christmas Pudding. Then wait.


The star of a memorable Christmas dinner in the United Kingdom is the Christmas pudding. And while it’s not yet Christmas, tradition has it that the pudding must be started the last Sunday before Advent. Once you start making this delicacy, you’ll understand all the stirring part, but the name is taken in part from the collect from the prayer book:

Stir up, we beseech thee, O Lord, the wills of thy faithful people; that they, plenteously bringing forth the fruit of good works, may of thee be plenteously rewarded; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Families gather together to help mix and steam the pudding, which is not only fun but also practical, as the mixture can be very hard to stir. Per tradition, the pudding is stirred East to West to represent the wise men’s journey to the infant Jesus, and each person who stirs makes a special wish for the year to come.

Some families place a silver coin in the pudding as a symbol of good luck to the recipient on Christmas Day. (Be sure to boil the coin for 10 minutes to sterilize it before adding it to the mix.) Christmas pudding should sit in a dark and dry place for at least 4-5 weeks (the length of Advent), but it is not uncommon for some families to use the pudding made the previous year for their Christmas dinner.

So while Advent is a season of preparation, Stir-Up Sunday and getting the pudding ready is preparation for Advent. Here’s the recipe:

The Rev. Canon Dr. Ellen Loudon’s Christmas Pudding 
Makes two 2-pint puddings


  • 2 cups or 1 220g package suet (in the US, ask your grocery store butcher if suet is available; suet may also be purchased online)
  • 1 heaping teaspoon of mixed spice (make your own or use a mix like pumpkin pie spice)
  • ½ teaspoon nutmeg
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup self-rising flour
  • 1 ¼ cup brown sugar
  • 1 ¼ white breadcrumbs grated from stale loaf (about 1 1/3 slices of bread)
  • 1 ½ cups raisins
  • 1 ½ cups sultanas (in the US, can be purchased online, or substitute dried cranberries)
  • 4 cups dried cherries
  • 1/3 cup chopped almonds
  • 1/3 cup candied citrus peel finely chopped whole
  • The grated rind of 1 lemon
  • The grated rind of 1 orange
  • 1 apple peeled, cored and finely chopped
  • 4 eggs
  • ½ cup of a strong ale (personal preference)
  • ½ cup stout (Ellen uses Guinness but, again, personal preference)
  • 4 tbsp rum

Other Needs: Baking string, pudding basins, baking paper/parchment, aluminum foil

Put suet, flour, breadcrumbs, and spices in a bowl, mixing in each ingredient thoroughly before adding the next.

Gradually mix in all fruit, peel, and nuts, and follow these with the apple, orange, and lemon peel.

In a different bowl beat up eggs, and mix in the rum, ale, and stout.

Empty all of this over the dry ingredients, and then stir very hard. (This mixing is vital, so recruit some help!) You may find you need more stout; it’s difficult to be exact with liquid quantities, but the mixture should be dropping consistency, that is, it should fall from the spoon when tapped sharply against the side of the bowl.

After mixing, cover with a cloth. Leave mixture over night.

Grease two 2-pint basins, and pack mixture tightly to the top.

Cover each with one sheet of aluminum foil with baking paper/parchment inside. From the inside make a pleat in paper and foil to allow the pudding to rise. Tie the foil and paper tops around the basin with sting, cutting away some excess and tucking the rest underneath the string. You can tie another few pieces of string on the ends to make a handle.

Place pudding on top of a heat safe plate in a large pot and fill with water. Bring to a simmer, cover with a lid, and steam for 8 hours. Be sure to keep an eye on the water now and then to make sure it doesn’t boil away.

When cooked and cooled, remove foil and paper and replace with fresh foil and paper.

Traditionally, the pudding is stored in cool, dry, dark place throughout Advent (3-4 weeks).

Before serving, steam for 2 hours.

Submitted by: Emily Kirk (Diocese of East Tennessee ) and Kate Jewett-Williams (Diocese of Dallas and Diocese of Oklahoma), Young Adult Service Corps Members serving in Liverpool, UK

For a downloadable/printable version of this recipe, visit:

Coming November 27: Turkey Bone Gumbo, or Giving Thanks for Leftovers


Prepare ye the way. And the Feast.

Advent CountdownAdvent calls us to a time of preparation and hope as we await the birth of the Christ Child. One tangible expression of this call is planning, cooking, and sharing a meal or special dish that brings sustenance and comfort to others and to ourselves. The importance of providing food for both body and soul is found throughout the Bible. Coming to the table – in whatever condition or station of life – is essential to many faith traditions.

Throughout Advent, we’ll highlight a recipe a day to help you in your preparation and sharing of the season. This blog will feature recipes offered by members and friends of The Episcopal Church from around the world – Turkey Gumbo and Chicken & Sausage Jambalaya from Louisiana, Roast Buffalo from First Nations’ Kitchen in Minnesota, Buckeye Candy from Ohio, Fried Pork and Plantains from Haiti, Coffee Cake and Leek & Potato Pie from New York, Pralines from Savannah, and many more. Prepare to cook and eat well this Advent season!

Once the holidays are over, we’ll add recipes and stories to the blog throughout the year, hoping to make it your go-to source for great food.

Taste and see that the Lord is good; happy are those who take refuge in him. ~ Psalm 34:8

Coming November 20: Stir up a traditional Christmas pudding