Today is “Stir up Sunday” and is apparently the traditional day to make your Christmas Pudding. It was started in Victorian times as a tradition when families would get together to get their fruit puddings stirred up, steamed and stored ahead of Christmas.
It’s not one of our traditions at Town End Farm, but we do use the date to prompt us to make our Christmas cake and mincemeat. Last year, we were in the midst of peak disruption in the farmhouse, as we were on the final push to get renovations if not finished, at least to have a working kitchen for Christmas. So our Christmas preparations were pretty cursory, and were all focused on the Long Barn. Jackie loves Christmas and goes to town on the decorations for both barns as well as (usually) our own home.
Fast forward a year and like most people, we are waiting for next week’s announcements to see whether we can open the Long Barn up again for guests. So what better time to focus on what we can control, and get going with some of our Christmas cooking preparation.
This week it’s been making mincemeat and Christmas cake. Our mincemeat is loosely based on Queen Delia’s but with no candied peel (which Jackie considers the work of the devil) and double the booze. For details, take a look at our Facebook/Instagram posts on 16th November.
For our Christmas cake, we look no further than Princess Nigella, whose recipe is a tried and trusted favourite. We follow the recipe from her Nigella Christmas book, and make the middle sized one. Our top tip is to line the tin as she suggests for the large sized cake; wrap the outside with a double layer of brown paper which stops the sides of the cake getting too dark. As it’s cooking, the house smells wonderfully of Christmas spices from the cloves, cinnamon, and ginger. Once cooled, wrap in greaseproof/foil…and then, trickle your spirit of choice onto the base of the cake every few days…for our Christmas cake, it has to be brandy. By Christmas Day it will be moist, boozy and delicious.