Monday, November 21, 2011

Stir up Sunday

Stir up Sunday - Wikipedia tells me that the name comes from the collect in the Book of Common Prayer which is read on the last Sunday before advent, I associate it with The Archers where I first heard the term in relation to baking. It’s also the traditional day to make Christmas pudding and mincemeat, and if it doesn’t need a long time to mature it’s also a good day to make your Christmas cake.

Coincidentally I did make my first Christmas cake yesterday, but only discovered the synchronicity with the dates afterwards, it’s going in my diary for next year (just so I know). If the cake is good it’ll become a fixture and I have to admit that it’s really going to test my patience waiting another 5 weeks to see if it’s any good. I have an inkling that it will be acceptable because the top got a bit crispy and I decided to slice it off and in the process I tried a little bit. The recipe used was the Dan Lepard I’ve been sitting on for the last year and if nothing else it’s made my flat smell amazing.

I didn’t make the cake in my new toy – I wanted a bigger bowl and it’s not a recipe that calls for much mixing bar the folding in of the fruit and – well it just seemed more appropriate to do it by hand. However the Scottish one has been encouraging me to use the Kitchen Aid (part of me still thinks I should have waited but it was a part easy to ignore) and so I thought perhaps I should. So I did and made another Lepard cake – Hazelnut and Prune – there’s a link to it on the Christmas cake page. It’s pretty good but calls for quite a lot of nutmeg which I will halve next time because currently I feel it tastes a bit virtuous and a little unbalanced; which is as much a reflection on my heavy handedness as anything else – I may have erred on the side of excess.
The hazelnut and prune effort went through the mixer which was extremely satisfying, so satisfying that I felt I had to bake something else and so opted for the Gugelhupf recipe in ‘Tanta Hertha’s Viennese Kitchen’. It’s turned out well but I’m not sure it’s for me (hard to tell at the moment because I burnt my mouth on a very hot piece of lamb stew and everything tastes a bit off). This version doesn’t use alcohol which might add a bit of richness – instead its lemon and almond based and perhaps a bit subtle for someone geared up to Lebkuchen and heavier fruit cakes. I’ll keep eating it until I’m sure. I could probably have carried on baking all night but perhaps fortunately ran out of ingredients. I love my new Kitchen aid.


  1. That looks really impressive- you certainly had a good stir up Sunday. I've never made a gugelhupf - does that refer to the shape or is it a specific sort of cake?

  2. Verity - I think it refers to both. It's a traditional German/Austrian cake in this case made with yeast and not unlike panatonne or brioche. It uses a bundt tin which according to wikipedia was originally a gugelhupf tin. Traditionally it's a birthday cake in Germany. It's growing on me, I made it after seeing a couple of others - Robin at Red Red Robin and Jane Brockett I think - and having cake envy

  3. How can you bake so much in one day? You must be some sort of superhero. If I cook one meal or bake one cake I have to rest for at least 24 hours...

    I missed Stir-up Sunday so pretended it was today. Because of you I have made Dan Lepard's Christmas cake, however I lacked many of the ingredients and am hoping that using plain flour will have been OK (and forgetting the bicarb, oops). It is a bit black on top because I omitted to check it (can you tell I'm crap at cooking?) but it looks like a sort of mad ruined castle and smells good, so it's not all doom. And boiling the sugar at the beginning and then adding the cream was really good fun! (I don't get out much.)

  4. Helen - once I get started I just keep going, but it helps that I love cooking and especially baking. Your cake sounds a bit like mine but I have high hopes for it. I don't get out at all!