beer and food

Stir-up Sunday

Cooper's stout, along with the other ingredients for Christmas pudding

It’s Stir-up Sunday today, and I’m having a go at my first Christmas pudding.  My dad always makes puddings according to an old family recipe and I’ve been meaning to have a go for ages.

Of course, the angle of interest for the beer geek is the vexing question of what beer to use while making it.  Pete Brown went for a rare beer used in the Queen’s pudding, no less.  And we see that Thornbridge have supplied their excellent St Petersburg Stout to some luxury pudding manufacturer.

Now, I’m always a bit sceptical about using good quality booze in food — by the time you’ve added all the other ingredients and cooked whatever it is you’re making, I find it hard to believe that the beautiful balance and flavourings that you appreciate in your tipple are going to shine on through.

I turned to my two culinary stalwarts at this point.  Delia suggests using both extra stout and barley wine (“pubs usually have it”, she says, optimistically.  I wish they did, Delia, I wish they did).  My dad, on the other hand, uses a tin of Guinness.

I scoured the beer cellar garage, and returned with some Coopers Best Extra Stout.  We’ve had this a few times before (it seems to be a popular option in our local off licence) and find it a delicious, reliable, sturdy stout.  As we’d recently bought a six pack, I had no hesitation in using a whole bottle to marinate my fruit, spice and vegetable mix.

The mix has been soaking overnight, so today it’s time to mix in the other ingredients (breadcrumbs, flour, eggs), stir it up, make a wish and then steam them for many hours.  The puddings will then have a month to mature until Christmas.  We always used to eat puddings that were made the year before, so I’ve made two, so I can keep one back for Christmas 2010.


While attempting to prove to Bailey that Stir-up Sunday was not some bonkers tradition my parents invented, I was pleased to note that the top Google ranking goes to this site put together by a junior school in Kent. I have added this additional link to do my bit to keep them there.

5 replies on “Stir-up Sunday”

I have to admit, I’m not a fan of Christmas pudding. My mother used to make a batch of them (using Guinness of course) and distribute them to the aunts and uncles. By all accounts they were delicious, and the German’s really loved it too. So, I want a recipe for something similar, with beer, that I can have! 😀

Tom and Barry — follow the link to Delia’s recipe. You won’t be disappointed.

Tandleman — can’t you just sneak down in the middle of the night and pour some beer over it….? E need never know.

If you’re making my family recipe, you also need to add a generous tablespoon of treacle, a grated carrot and various types of nut. I added stem ginger to mine, ‘coz I love it.

And our technique’s a little different to Delia’s too – basically you soak all the fruit in the beer with the zest and the spices overnight. You then mix in the other ingredients early the next day (on the Sunday), leave for a few more hours, then steam the puddings for about five hours. Lots of recipes seem to go for seven hours or more but I think that’s a bit excessive – you’re going to steam it again on Christmas day.

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