CREATE a stir today . . . by getting the whole family involved in making a Christmas pud.

Stir Up Sunday was once a popular custom uniting families around the kitchen table to mix their Christmas puddings - and marked the start of the festive season.

Each member of the family takes a turn to stir the mixture, make a wish and add coins or charms; the finding of them on Christmas Day purportedly bringing wealth, health, happiness, and ensuring everyone at least eats some to find one!

It actually fell a couple of weeks ago, on November 22, but if you haven’t already made your pud, roll up your sleeves and get mixing.

If you do things the traditional way, you’ll need to set by a whole day to devote to your pud - it will need to steam for eight hours.

Here’s a recipe I used a few years ago. It produced a lovely rich pud which was so dense it managed to avert a possible culinary disaster.

I’d taken it to my aunt’s house for her to heat and serve on Christmas Day.

However, I forgot to tell her to steam it, as it was packed with metal charms which could have started a fire in the microwave.

Luckily it came out unscathed - but we’ll be a bit more careful this year! - JB

YOU NEED Dry mix: 225g Muscovado sugar 50g Self raising flour 2 tsp Ground mixed spice 1 tsp Ground nutmeg 1 tsp Ground cinnamon 110g fresh white breadcrumbs Batter mix: 1 Bramley apple (grated) 2 eggs 125g Vegetable suet 150ml Stout 2 tbsp Double cream 2 tbsp Black treacle 150ml Brandy Decoration: 25g Blanched almonds 75g Glace cherries 25g Pecans

METHOD 1. Mix the luxury fruit and currants together, wash and leave to drain overnight.

2. Combine the washed fruit into the dry mix and stir thoroughly. Stir the batter ingredients together in a separate bowl and mix into the contents of the main bowl. The pudding mix should now be of a soft consistency. Add a little more stout if it is too dry.

3. Invite all of the family to have a stir, and if you are going to add any tokens such as thimbles or coins then add them now and make a wish.

4. Arrange the cherries, pecan nuts and blanched almonds at the bottom of the pudding bowl and pour the pudding mix over. Cover with greased paper, allowing a pleat in the middle to allow the pudding to expand while cooking.

5. Place the pudding bowl in a steamer or on a metal colander inside a large pan with water up to just below the base of the bowl. Steam for eight hours, checking the water level frequently and adding more as required. Allow to cool before removing the wrapping and replacing with clean paper.

6. Store in a cool place until required then steam for a further two hours before turning out to serve.