“Now bring us some figgy pudding” is part of the chorus in We Wish You A Merry Christmas. From the 16th century, Figgy Pudding traditionally graced the table at the end of a Christmas meal and it is quintessentially British. It’s possible ancestors made the pudding from a potage of mashed figs thickened with bread, and creme boiled (a type of stirred custard).
Fig trees were once commonplace in English gardens and figs were the main ingredient. We have a beautiful 23-year old Celeste fig tree in our yard that produces more figs than we can consume each summer. The tree is so large that we cannot reach the top; those figs are reserved for our flying feathered friends. The figs on the bottom of the tree (that nearly drag the ground) are reserved for my four hens who feast on the tree every day during fig season. I pick from the middle of the tree and enjoy making fig preserves every summer.
When I began researching recipes for the Figgy Pudding, I noticed that majority called for dried figs, probably because Figgy Pudding is considered a Christmas treat and figs are a summer fruit. Recipes are quite diverse in ingredients. I chose a recipe that called for fresh figs with no other fruit. The pudding is steamed and is a very moist, dense, cake-like treat. I would describe it as a very rustic, dense, bread pudding. My family enjoyed the pudding which we served with a warm vanilla custard sauce. I plan on freezing some fresh figs to make this spicy dessert during the Christmas holiday. Here’s the recipe that I chose:
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.
In a medium bowl, mix together the flour, sugar, baking powder, nutmeg, cinnamon, and salt.
Zest the orange with a zester.
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 stir until blended.
Using a wire whisk, gradually add flour mixture until just blended. Stir in walnuts.
Spoon the pudding batter into the prepared pudding mold (I used a shallow bundt pan). Cover with foil and place mold in large roasting pan or casserole dish. Pour enough boiling 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 a preheated oven for 2 to 2 1/2 hours, until a wooden pick inserted into the center comes out clean. Serve with vanilla custard sauce or sweetened whipped cream.
- 1 pound fresh figs (dried, figs, chopped, may be substituted)
- ¾ cup whole milk
- 1½ cups all-purpose flour
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 2½ ts. baking powder
- 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
- ½ tsp. ground nutmeg
- 1 tsp. salt
- 3 large eggs
- ½ cup (1 stick) butter, melted
- 1½ cups plain breadcrumbs
- 1 Tablespoon orange zest, fresh (or 1 tsp. dried)
- 1 cup chopped walnuts (I like to dry roast them in a saute pan to bring out the flavor)
- Custard Sauce:
- 2 cups whole milk
- 1 large egg
- ¾ cups granulated sugar
- 1 Tablespoon water
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 Tablespoon all-purpose flour
- 1 Tablespoon butter
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Generously butter a 2-quart pudding mold, pudding basin, or bundt pan.
- 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,
- 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
batterinto prepared pudding mold. Cover and place mold in a large roasting pan or casserole dish. Pour enough boiling water into the bottom of the roasting pan or casserole dish to cover the bottom ⅓ of the mold. This water bath will hep the pudding cook evenly and keep it from scorching. Cook the pudding in a preheated oven for 1 to 2½ hours. You may insert into the center of the pudding a wooden skewer or toothpick to check for doneness. If the pick 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 spring on top. Serve with custard sauce or sweetened whipped cream.
- To make the custard sauce:
- In a medium saucepan, scald milk and allow to cool. Mix together remaining ingredients except for the butter. Add to cooled milk. Cook over very low heat until thickened. Remove from heat and stir in butter, mixing well.