Real or Myth?
STORY BY: KRIS BEASLEY
We’ve all heard the song “We Wish You a Merry Christmas” and chances are that is the only time and place that figgy pudding enters our consciousness. But what the heck is figgy pudding? Does it really exist? Is it tasty? So tasty, that I would I bang my hands on the table and demand, “Now bring me some figgy pudding!” I was curious.
I wasn’t surprised to learn that figgy pudding comes from England and dates back to the 16th Century. It was made with figs and thickened with bread. It wasn’t until the 19th Century in the West County of England, that the famed Christmas Carol was penned. The origin of the Christmas Carol lies in the English tradition where wealthy people of the community gave Christmas treats to the carolers on Christmas Eve, such as figgy pudding. Figgy pudding is more like cake than pudding and is made of dried fruit, a special cake batter, seasonings such as nutmeg and cinnamon and booze! In fact, figgy pudding was actually banned by the English puritans, due to its alcohol content. The recipe itself included cognac and rum. You can even drizzle more alcohol over your figgy pudding and light it on fire! Flambé figgy pudding … now I understand the lyrics, “Now bring me some figgy pudding!”
Over the years, figgy pudding has evolved. There are recipes ranging from simple to complex. In general, it is like bread pudding. Make it with figs, and you can call it figgy pudding. Make it with plums and you can call it plum pudding. Add booze or not. It is totally up to you and your taste buds!
Here are a few recipes to try out this holiday season. But one thing is for sure, If you want to get the party started this holiday season… bring some figgy pudding, and bring it right now!
PURTITAN FIGGY PUDDING
- 1 3/4 cups Buttermilk
- 12 oz. dried Cali Myrna figs, coarsely chopped
- 1 1/2 cups white, whole-wheat flour
- 1 cup white sugar
- 2 1/2 tea baking powder
- 1 tea ground nutmeg
- 1 tea ground cinnamon
- 1 tea salt
- 3 eggs
- 1 1/2 cups dry bread crumbs
- 1/2-cup butter, melted
- 1 (2.45 oz.) package of sliced almonds
- 2 TBSP orange marmalade
- 1 TBSP grated orange zest
- 1/2 tea orange-vanilla flavoring
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a tube pan. Sift flour, sugar, baking powder, nutmeg, cinnamon and salt together in a bowl. Beat eggs in a large bowl with an electric hand mixer on high for 1 minute. Add fig-and-buttermilk mixture, breadcrumbs, butter, almonds, orange marmalade, orange zest, and orange-vanilla flavoring to the beaten eggs; beat on low speed until blended.
Gradually add flour mixture while beating until just incorporated into a batter. Spoon batter into prepared pan. Grease a sheet of aluminum foil; use to cover pan.
Bake in preheated oven until firm and pulling away from sides of pan – about 2 hours.
Set aside to cool for 10 minutes before removing from pan.
CHOCOLATE FIGGY PUDDING
- 3 eggs
- 1-1/2 cups brown sugar
- 4 cups soft breadcrumbs
- 1 cup finely chopped suet
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 1-1/2 cups chopped dried figs
- 3/4 cup chopped chocolate, such as Ghirardelli
- 1/2-cup hot milk
- 3/4-teaspoon salt
Beat eggs then add sugar, breadcrumbs, suet, figs (dredged with flour), chocolate mixed with hot milk, and salt. Stir thoroughly.
Steam three hours in a greased mold. Serve hot.
FLAMING FIGGY PUDDING
About 15 dried figs cut into small triangular pieces (about 1 1/2 to 2 cups)
- 1/2-cup water
- 1/2-cup dark rum
- 1/3-cup brandy
- 1/2-cup raisins
- 1 1/3 – cups whole-wheat pastry flour
- 2 – teaspoons baking powder
- 1 1/2 – teaspoons cinnamon
- 1-teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- 1/4-teaspoon ground cloves
- 1/4-teaspoon sea salt
- 3 large eggs
- 1 cup brown sugar, packed
- 2 cups fresh white breadcrumbs, made from an 8 piece of baguette
- 4 – ounces unsalted butter, melted and cooled
- 1 – cup chopped dried apricots
- 1 – cup dried cranberries
- 1/3-cup brandy, to flame the pudding
Grease your Bundt pan with a layer of cooking spray, and a layer of butter. (Seems like a lot, but you want it to be nice and greasy, as to facilitate removing the pudding later.)
Place figs and water in a saucepan, and bring water to boil. Simmer until the water has almost completely evaporated. Add the brandy, rum and raisins, and bring to another boil. Remove the pan from the heat and place in an open space. Keeping the pan lid nearby set the alcohol on fire and let burn slowly for two minutes.
Extinguish the flames by putting the lid on the pan. After a few seconds, remove the lid, and set the newly uncovered pan aside.
Whisk together your dry ingredients in a medium mixing bowl, and set aside. Then, in a large mixing bowl, beat the eggs and brown sugar until well blended. Stir in the breadcrumbs, butter and boozy dried-fruit mixture. Gently stir in the dry ingredients into your wet ingredients, and then fold in your apricots and cranberries.
Pour the batter into your Bundt pan, and seal tightly with aluminum foil. Place in the stockpot and fill with hot water until it’s about 1/2 to 2/3 up the sides of the cake pan. Bring water to a boil and then lower the heat to simmer. Cover the stockpot with aluminum foil, and then seal tightly with a lid.
Simmer for two hours, adding more water as needed, until the pudding is done. To test for doneness, carefully remove the lid and various layers of aluminum foil. Insert knife in the center of the cake, toward the tube. If the knife comes out clean, it’s done.
Remove the pan to a cooling rack, and let sit for 5 minutes. To invert: Loosen the sides with a knife and place the cooling rack on top of the Bundt pan. Gently, and with the help of someone else, if you can, grab both sides of the cooling rack and flip the Bundt pan upside-down. Then lift the pan up slowly, wiggling it slightly to loosen the pudding from the mold. (Do NOT just pick up the pan and tip it over, as it could lose its shape.) Let the pudding cool for 30 minutes.
To flame the pudding, heat 1/3 cup of brandy over medium heat. Pour over the warm cake, and working quickly, light a match and set it aflame.
Serve in large slices.