Kitchen Tips

How soon can I start my Christmas cooking?

When to start preparing your Christmas pudding, Christmas cake, mince pies and gingerbread house.

Are you raring to get stuck into your Christmas food prep? Here's how soon you can start:

Christmas pudding

Christmas puddings are traditionally started on 'Stir-up Sunday', the last Sunday before advent begins. However the pudding can be made up to three months ahead and kept refrigerated, or made up to one year ahead and frozen.
If you cook your pudding in an aluminium steamer, make sure you remove it and wrap it in plastic wrap before storing.

Christmas cake

A good rich fruit cake, if baked and stored correctly, will keep indefinitely, so in theory you could make your Christmas cake years in advance! The sugar content – including the sugar in the alcohol, not the alcohol itself – will preserve the cake. Some say rich fruit cakes only get better with time, so make yours when it suits you.

Fruit mince

Fruit mince for mince pies can be made many months in advance. Store it in a cool dark place in an airtight container. The refrigerator is the safest place.
There are many different fruit mince recipes around, however if the recipe contains nuts, be aware that there is always the danger of nuts turning rancid, particularly in warm climates.

Gingerbread house

The gingerbread pieces for the house can be made up to a month ahead if the weather remains dry. It’s important to cook the gingerbread until it’s crisp. Store the pieces in an airtight container with as little air space left in the container as possible.
Assemble the gingerbread house as close to serving as possible. If the house is to be used as a centrepiece for the table, keep it away from the dust and insects. If the house is a gift, wrap it in cellophane to keep it as airtight and dust-free as possible.