Just ‘desserts’ for Sheffield mum’s festive pudding mission

Mary Ferguson, part of the team of Mary Christmases spearheading the Lyle's Golden Syrup Christmas Pudding movement who are on a mission to bring back the dying tradition of making the festive dessert. The Marys have joined forces following research which revealed that 75 per cent of Brits have never made their own Christmas pudding.
Mary Ferguson, part of the team of Mary Christmases spearheading the Lyle's Golden Syrup Christmas Pudding movement who are on a mission to bring back the dying tradition of making the festive dessert. The Marys have joined forces following research which revealed that 75 per cent of Brits have never made their own Christmas pudding.

A domestic goddess is spearheading a campaign to revive the tradition behind baking a Christmas pudding.

Sheffield mum-of-three Helen Moyes has been selected as one of syrup firm Lyle’s ‘100 Marys’ drive to bring back Stir Up Sunday.

In church tradition, the last Sunday before Advent – which falls tomorrow – was the time families gathered in the kitchen to bake their pudding ready for Christmas dinner.

Ingredients were mixed anti-clockwise to mark the journey of the Three Wise Men from the east to see the newborn baby Jesus.

But after research from Lyle’s found that three quarters of the British public have no idea about the tradition, home economics coach Helen felt compelled to sign up to the campaign to make a change.

The 48-year-old, whose middle name is Mary, was first taught the ropes by her grandmother, and making Christmas puddings has been a tradition in her Ecclesall home ever since.

Now she wants households across South Yorkshire to do the same this weekend.

She said: “People would go to church that Sunday and then come home and prepare it together.

“I think it’s a shame that now most people wouldn’t even know how to make a Christmas pudding.

“I know they can be bought in shops but it’s a nice skill to have and it’s about a lot more than the pudding.

“My children are grown up now but we still bake together. It’s a really good way for us to catch up in the kitchen.”

Anyone who wants to take up the Stir Up Sunday challenge can follow the recipe below.

Helen recommends storing the finished pudding in the cellar or freezer in the build-up to December 25.

The tutor, whose one-woman business Home Coaching delivers lessons in domestic science to people across Sheffield, sticks to the age-old recipe.

She said: “I don’t have any secret ingredients, but I do love packing it with fruit peel and dried cranberries.

“It’s not difficult to make, just a case of measuring out ingredients.

“My husband loves Christmas pudding so I tend to make three, wrap them in tinfoil and freeze them. His birthday is in June, so we even have it then.”

Helen’s recipe

Serves 10 and freezes for up to a year

Pudding ingredients: 100g raisins; 100g sultanas; 50g mixed peel; 75g dates stoned; 85g dried cranberries; grated zest and juice of one orange and one lemon; one tbsp grated root ginger; 100ml golden syrup; 100g butter; 50g dark muscovado sugar; two large eggs; 85g fresh white or brown bread crumbs; 50g self raising flour; one tsp cinnamon; and 85g walnuts roughly chopped.

Walnut topping sauce ingredients:

100g butter; 100g light muscovado sugar; 50g walnuts; 50g dried cranberries; juice of one orange; and three tbsp orange liqueur.

Pudding method: Put dried fruits dates, cranberries, ginger in a pan with orange & lemon zest, juice and golden syrup. Warm gently for 10 minutes. Then leave to cool. Grease a 1.3l pudding basin. Put small greaseproof paper circle in the base. Beat butter, sugar, eggs and flour then stir in the fruits, breadcrumbs, cinnamon and nuts. Steam pudding for three hours, either in a slow cooker or pan. Cool. Store for a week or freeze for a month.

Sauce method: Melt the butter and sugar in a pan, tip in the walnuts; stir for a few minutes. To toast, add orange juice, liqueur and cranberries. Allow to bubble until thick and creamy. Cool.

Serving: To serve, steam to warm for an hour. Gently warm the walnut sauce. Serve the pudding. Pour over the sauce. Decorate with a sprig of holly, add extra liqueur and light.