A great friend of mine, MK, called the other day and had a very special request. She said that for years, she's loved the Christmas song, "We Wish You a Merry Christmas" (specifically the Muppet version..hehe). However, she had always wondered what in the world the "figgy pudding" was that's mentioned in the song. I considered it for a few seconds and realized that I had no idea either! However, it must be pretty tasty because the carolers in the song refuse to leave until they get some.
Have you ever wondered what this classic dessert is? Well, after a good bit of research, I found a lot of recipes for figgy pudding that were actually more like a cake...not a pudding, after all. Traditionally, it's steamed instead of baked. Some say it was first created in the 1400's and really became a popular Christmas-time treat in the mid 1800's in Victorian England.
I think the best way to describe this particular recipe is that it's a mix between carrot cake, fruit cake, and banana nut bread...with a very densely moist texture. I know what you're thinking...Fruit Cake?!? Yuck! But no...it's so delicious!! If you like Fig Newtons, than you would definitely like this Figgy Pudding. If you were to make a Fig Newton Cake, this is what it would taste like!
I looked at a lot of different Figgy Pudding recipes online. A lot of them stuck with the traditional way of cooking it with steam on the stove-top. This method takes about 4-5 hours total. I found the recipe below that sounded like a great compromise. It's baked in the oven, WITH a steam bath. This cuts the baking time in half...down to 2 hours. I also do not have a pudding mold, so I used a Bundt pan instead. This may not be the most traditional recipe there is, but it is no less delicious!
The kitchen smelled lovely while this was baking...figs, walnuts, and spices...Yum! I've made it twice already...once with a the custard sauce (recipe below) and once with a simple sprinkling of powdered sugar on the top. I made the second cake for Ashley's 2nd grade class. They were studying different traditional Christmas foods from around the world...The kids loved it!
I hope you enjoy it too! Merry Christmas!!
Christmas Figgy Pudding
1 pound (453g) fresh black Mission figs (dried figs, chopped, may be substituted)
3/4 cup milk (I used buttermilk instead)
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup granulated sugar
2 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
1 tsp. salt
1/2 cup (1 stick/4 oz./113g) butter, melted
1 1/2 cups breadcrumbs
1 tbsp. orange zest, fresh (or 1 tsp. dried)
1 cup chopped walnuts
Holly Sprig (real or artificial) optional
Serve with (optional):
Custard sauce (see recipe below) or sweetened whipped cream
You will need a 2-quart (2-litre/8-cup) pudding mold or pudding basin
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F/180 degrees C. Generously butter a 2-quart (2 litre/8 cup) pudding mold or pudding basin.
In a medium saucepan, warm milk over low heat, add figs, cover and let simmer for 10 minutes. (DO NOT LET MIXTURE COME TO A BOIL).
Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, mix together the flour, sugar, baking powder, nutmeg, cinnamon and salt.
In a large bowl, mix together the eggs and melted butter until frothy. Slowly add bread crumbs, and orange zest. Add the milk and fig mixture and using a wire whisk gradually add flour mixture, until just blended. Stir in walnuts.
Spoon pudding batter into prepared pudding mold. Cover and place mold in a large roasting pan or casserole dish. Pour enough hot water into the bottom of the roasting pan or casserole dish to cover the bottom 1/3 of the mold. This "water bath" will help the pudding cook evenly and keep it from scorching. Cook the pudding in preheated oven for 2 to 1/2 hours. You may insert into the center of pudding a wooden skewer or toothpick to check for doneness. If it comes out clean, then the pudding is done. Allow pudding to cool for 15 minutes before inverting and unmolding onto a serving plate. If desired, dust with confectioners' sugar or for a very festive look, pour the warm custard sauce over the pudding and place a holly sprig (real or artificial) on top. Serve with custard sauce or sweetened whipped cream.
Makes 8 servings.
2 cups milk
1 large egg
3/4 cups granulated sugar
1 tablespoon water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon butter
In a medium saucepan, scald milk and allow to cool.
Mix together remaining ingredients, except for butter. Add to cooled milk. Cook over low heat until thickened. Remove from heat and stir in butter, mixing well.
Serve pudding warm with custard sauce or sweetened whipped cream. Store unused portions in refrigerator.