Stir-up Sunday

Today is Stir-up Sunday, the Sunday before Advent begins when it is traditional to make the Christmas pudding. One of my favourite Christmas traditions is that everyone in the house takes a turn to stir, while making a wish. We never skipped this tradition in our household growing up and now that I do my own Christmas baking I make sure my flatmates take a turn at stirring. It’s a fairly good labour-saving device too!

This year I’m not doing any Christmas baking – not yet, anyway. I’m off to New Zealand for Christmas and home-made cakes and puddings are notoriously difficult to get through Customs. A great family tragedy is that when my grandmother arrived for her first Christmas in New Zealand the Christmas cake she had baked was confiscated. Rather unfairly, shop-bought, packaged goodies are usually allowed through.

So it’s quite exciting that this year, Waitrose have stepped in and done the baking for me. Yesterday I received in the post a Heston from Waitrose Hidden Orange Christmas Pudding. This 1.2kg pudding has a whole candied orange in the centre, the idea being that the essential oils infuse the pudding with flavour. This just sound so amazing that I almost decided to eat it today, but it felt a bit sacrilegious to demolish a Christmas pud on the day everyone else is making theirs. Plus, the reason you make pudding on Stir-up Sunday is to give the flavours time to develop. So I’m going to save it and take it to New Zealand for Christmas dinner where it can sit next to the pavlova and strawberries – provided the gods of Customs and Immigration smile on me that is. Thank you, Waitrose!

According to the press release, the story behind the pudding’s creation will be on their new Facebook page, launching on November 18. Unfortunately it’s not up yet, but I’ll keep an eye out as anything involving Heston Blumenthal is always interesting.

If like me you haven’t spent your day baking but unlike me do want to make your own, try Dan Lepard’s Stir-up Sunday recipes for Christmas pudding and mincemeat.

Once you’ve solved the buy or make your own dilemma, the only question left is what sauce to use. Brandy butter, brandy sauce and white sauce are the more traditional alternatives, but it seems more and more people are opting for cream or custard. That’s after you pour the flaming brandy on it of course!

Breakfast Club

Sorry everyone for how long it’s taken me to post the latest Breakfast Club roundup! I started university a couple of months ago, as well as taking on a new temporary job and working my current voluntary jobs as well. The result – busy but happy, but unfortunately something had to give and that was the blog.

Obviously my social life has taken a bit of a knock too as I spend most of my spare time with my head in a text book. That means not quite so many restaurants and cocktail evenings, and a bit more student food on the menu. I’m pretty good at recreating McCain spicy potato wedges from scratch now, a skill I could probably do without.

Anyway, I’ll still be posting here, but less often as I’m turning down most of the invitations I’m getting at the moment. Expect a lot of nutritious homemade soups over the winter, until uni finishes for the summer and normal transmission will probably resume.

This is going to be the last Breakfast Club from me for a while – Helen will be running it on her own for the time being. Remember to mention your favourite in the comments below to enter the competition for the Kellogg’s hamper. Breakfast Club entrants automatically get five entries.

It was interesting seeing how everyone interpreted the theme, especially as we had such an international bunch of entrants.

Lizzie from Grub du Jour prepared a No-Fuss English Breakfast, saving on washing up by cooking everything in the same dish.

No Fuss English Breakfast

Akheela from Torview made French Toast. I love French toast.

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Janet from The Taste Space ate some Whipped Banana Oatmeal with Cranberries for a sort of fusion Scottish-Asian-American breakfast. That is possibly the prettiest picture of porridge I have ever seen.

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Matt from FOODFORFRIENDSYEAH! entered his Scrambled Eggs and Smoked Salmon. A classic combination.

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Liz from Cooking the Vegan Books made some Staffordshire Oatcakes, which I would love to try.

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Finally (or actually firstly, as I actually received the entries in reverse order), the blogless P.J. Owen sent the following recipe:

one oatcake
half a banana
a teaspoon of honey

Microwave the oatcake for 30 seconds
Cover one half of an oatcake with slices of banana.
Spread honey on the other half of the oatcake
Fold over.

oatcake banana honey

And my entry was of course crumpets.

Remember to comment below to enter to win the Kellogg’s hamper:

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Tell me which is your favourite entry, or alternatively what is your favourite British breakfast?