It's The Great Christmas Bake-off! This Sunday Is Stir Up Sunday So Let's Get Baking

21 November 2013

In case you hadn't noticed, baking is back, and the popularity of making cakes has led to the revival of a little-known tradition called Stir Up Sunday. Up to recently it's one of those dates in the calendar your Great Aunt would probably have known about, but now thanks to victoria sponge doyenne Mary Berry, this festive tradition that dates back to the victorian times is currently enjoying a surge in popularity.

But what is it exactly? Taking place on the last Sunday before advent it was the day when families used to gather together in the kitchen of their homes to make and mix the ingredients for their Christmas pudding and make a wish. This year Stir Up Sunday falls on 24th November.

With viewing figures for The Great British Bakeoff being an all-time high, this Christmas supermarkets are getting in on the Stir Up act. Waitrose are re-releasing its ever-popular Delia's Christmas Cake in A Box (it always sells out in our local store, so get in there quick), and Abel & Cole sell a very pleasant Christmas pudding kit for £19.99. And, although you don't have to be chained to the stove this Sunday, it's good to make christmas cakes and puddings in advance as you want all the booze and festive flavours to develop and combine. So if you want to try your hand at baking, try these recipes courtesy of Sainsbury's, who are this year teaming up with award-winning baker Dan Lepard and releasing a set of simple, festive recipes, two of which are below. Happy baking!



An Italian spiced fruit fudge that’s utterly easy to make and keeps well for months if wrapped tightly. It’s deliciously dense and sticky, and usually dredged with icing sugar before serving with coffee after dinner as a petit four. Though it does contain flour you can replace it with gluten-free flour if you prefer.

Serves 8-10

  • 200g JS whole almonds, unskinned
  • 100g JS whole hazelnuts, unskinned
  •  one 500g bag JS ready-to-eat apricots
  • one 130g tub JS lemon peel
  • one 200g tub JS crystallized ginger
  • 150g plain flour
  • 2 tsp JS ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp JS ground ginger
  • 1 tsp JS ground coriander
  • 1 tsp JS ground nutmeg
  • 300g caster sugar
  • 100g JS honey
  • 75ml Marsala or sherry
  • foil and butter for the tin
  • extra flour
  • Rice paper and icing sugar to finish

1.       Roast the almonds and hazelnuts on a tray in a preheated oven at 180°C/160°C fan/350°F/gas 4 for 10 minutes then leave to cool.

2.       Put the nuts in a large mixing bowl, cut the apricots in half and add them too with the strips of lemon peel and ginger. Spoon in the flour and spices and toss everything together until well coated.

3.       Line the base and sides of a 20cm square tin with buttered foil, or sheets of rice paper.

4.       Put the sugar, honey and Marsala in a saucepan and bring to the boil, then pour this into the flour mixture and immediately stir everything together evenly. Spoon the mixture into the tin then dust the top with extra flour and press it down firmly.

5.       Bake at 170°C/150°C fan/335°F/gas 3 for about 40 minutes until bubbling at the edges and slightly puffed. Remove from the oven and leave until cold. At this point you can keep it in the tin, well-wrapped, until Christmas or simply remove it from the tin and cut into pieces.

6.       The easiest way to remove the panforte from the tin and foil is to place it back in the oven for 5 minutes at 170°C/150°C fan/335°F/gas 3, as this softens the caramel slightly. Check that the panforte is loose around the edges in the tin then upturn onto a board, lift the tin off, then peel away the foil.

7.        Press sheets of rice paper on the base to stop it sticking then flip it onto another board and dust heavily with icing sugar.

8.       When it’s completely cold again cut in to slices to serve, or wrap in cellophane to store.




This is a rich pudding that will impress. Leave the nuts out if you would prefer.

  • 100g Dark Brown Sugar
  • 2 tsp Mixed Spice
  • 1 tsp Ground Ginger
  • 2 tsp Sainsbury's Taste the Difference Valencian Orange Extract
  • 50ml Orange Juice
  • 75ml Stout (or Porter)
  •  50g Golden Linseed, ground to a powder in a blender
  • 200g Sainsbury’s Mixed Dried Fruit
  • 1 medium Carrot, peeled and grated
  • 100g Chopped Pecans, optional
  • 200g Sainsbury’s Chopped Glacé Ginger
  • 50g Doves Farm gluten-free Plain White Flour
  • 50g Sainsbury's Freefrom spread made with Sunflower Oil,  plus a bit more for the basin
  • 75g gluten-free White Bread, ground into soft breadcrumbs


1.       Whisk together the sugar, spices, orange extract, juice, stout and linseed until smooth.

2.       Stir in the fruit, grated carrot, pecans and ginger then add the flour and mix well.

3.       Pour in the melted spread, add the gluten-free breadcrumbs and stir well.

4.       Grease the inside of a pudding basin with more Freefrom spread, then spoon in the mixture, patting it down as you go. Cut squares of non-stick baking paper and aluminum foil, large enough to easily cover the bowl, pleat them, and with the layers paper-side down, tie them tightly in place around the bowl with string.

5.       Simmer in a boiler for three hours.

6.       Store in a cool place. Do not break the seal or be tempted to remove the lid to look at the pudding. On Christmas day, simmer for another three hours before serving.

Watch a video about Stir Up Sunday here...



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