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Food & Recipes

Figgy Pudding Is a Nostalgic Holiday Treat That’s Surprisingly Easy to Make at Home — Here’s How

It's more than just a reference in the classic Christmas song — it's a dessert that'll wow your guests!

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How many times have you found yourself demanding “bring us some figgy pudding” while singing along to “We Wish You a Merry Christmas” — only to realize you have absolutely no idea what it actually is? Well, we decided to finally look into the silly-sounding dish from this classic carol. It’s a spiced and fruity cake that’s doused in liquor and then lit on fire. This step adds a wow-worthy touch when serving and infuses the dessert with extra sweetness. Whipping up the classic version of figgy pudding is a labor of love as it takes a few hours. But, if you’re short on time, you can opt for a speedier version that’s just as impressive and nostalgic for your holiday crowd. Keep reading to learn more about figgy pudding along with tips and recipes for making it at home!

What is figgy pudding?

Figgy pudding is a steamed cake that usually consists of dried fruit, brown sugar, candied orange peel, eggs, breadcrumbs, warm spices like nutmeg and cloves, and suet (beef or mutton fat). Once cooked, a liquor like brandy or rum is drizzled over the cake before it’s very carefully set on fire. This step causes the alcohol to burn off, leaving behind a sweet essence that complements the spiced cake. Additionally, figgy pudding has a similar moist and dense texture as fruitcake.

3 fun and surprising facts about figgy pudding

Being a part of a catchy Christmas song isn’t the only unique aspect to this dessert. Here are three more fun facts about figgy pudding that might convince you to put it on your Christmas menu!

1. It’s called a ‘pudding’ for this reason.

This treat is vastly different from the creamy pudding you’re probably used to. That’s because the cake and the accompanying song hail from Britain, where the term “pudding” is used to describe all types of desserts including cakes, pies and ice cream.

2. Some figgy pudding recipes don’t use figs.

Figgy pudding’s origins date back to medieval England, a time when figs were growing in popularity. This made them a staple ingredient in the dessert for centuries. But more recent recipes replace some or all of the figs with raisins, apricots or dates.

3. The dessert has more than one name.

While figgy pudding is a popular name for this dessert, it’s sometimes referred to as plum pudding or Christmas pudding. This is due to other types of dried fruit being used in this dessert beyond figs. “The ‘plum’ was a pre-Victorian generic term for any type of dried fruit but, most specifically, raisins,” explains Debbie Waugh, coordinator at the Historic Green Spring House in Alexandria, Virginia.

Chef’s #1 secret to perfectly cooked figgy pudding

To prevent the figgy pudding from sticking to the dish, British chef Jamie Oliver suggests generously greasing it with softened butter. “That is going to stop your pudding from sticking,” he says. “It’s also going to naturally baste it and make it sweet and delicious.” Then, you can pour the batter into the dish and proceed with the remaining steps.

2 delicious figgy pudding recipes

If you’re keen on trying figgy pudding this year, making either of these two recipes should be a breeze. Just use grated vegetable shortening or butter in place of suet if you can’t find it in the store. Also, consider adding a dash of Kosher salt like Diamond Crystal’s Baking Salt (Buy from Amazon, $6.99) as it dissolves quickly into the batter and balance the dessert’s sweetness. Yum!

Classic Figgy Pudding

This recipe (which has dried figs) comes from Lindsey Chastain, founder and CEO of The Waddle and Cluck, who promises it will “help make the holiday season feel warm, nostalgic and bright.”

A garnished figgy pudding with a slice removed
Getty

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup dried figs, stems removed and chopped  
  • 1 cup plain breadcrumbs  
  • 1 cup dark or light brown sugar 
  • 1 cup suet, shortening or butter, finely chopped or grated
  • ¾ cup all-purpose flour 
  • 1 tsp. baking soda  
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon  
  • ½ tsp. nutmeg 
  • ½ tsp. ground cloves 
  • ½ tsp. salt 
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten  
  • ⅓ cup brandy or dark rum + 3 to 4 Tbs.
  • 1 cup milk 
  • 2 to 3 Tbs. butter, softened (for greasing)

Directions:

  • Yield: One 9-inch pudding
  1. Place chopped figs in bowl and cover with 1 cup boiling water. Let sit 1 hour to plump. Drain and pat dry.
  2. In large mixing bowl, stir together figs, breadcrumbs, brown sugar, suet (or other fat), flour, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and salt until well blended. Mix in eggs, ⅓ cup brandy and just enough milk to make mixture very moist but still thick. Don’t over mix. Texture should cling together when pinched. Add additional milk if needed.
  3. Grease 9-inch pudding mold or round dish with butter. Pack mixture very tightly inside. Cover securely with foil. 
  4. In large pot, boil enough water to halfway fill sides of dish. Once boiling, gently lower dish into pot and cover with lid. Lower heat to simmer and steam about 4 hours, checking periodically to ensure water level remains topped up.
  5. After steaming, remove dish from pot and let pudding cool 15 minutes. Unmold pudding onto serving dish.
  6. To safely flambé pudding: Pour 3 to 4 Tbs. brandy or rum into large ladle and carefully light liquor until flame forms. Allow flaming liquor to run down top and sides of dessert. Slice and serve. For pointers, watch this video from Hobbs House Bakery:

Speedy Figgy Pudding

This figgy pudding recipe posted on the Harmons Grocery’s YouTube channel uses a couple of shortcuts to make this holiday treat faster. For starters, the dessert is baked in 6-oz. ramekins — creating individual portions that cook quickly and are easy to serve. Another twist: Each cake being drizzled with caramel sauce instead of liquor for a toffee-like flavor. Watch the video below to learn how to make this holiday dessert in less time!

What to serve figgy pudding with

To give your figgy pudding a final touch of flavor, serve it with any of these five toppings.

1. Ice cream

A scoop of vanilla ice cream adds a cool, creamy contrast to the warm dessert.

2. Custard

Hot or cold custard is another accompaniment that makes the pudding extra sweet.

3. Caramel sauce

Drizzling caramel sauce over the treat provides it with a rich buttery flavor..

4. Whipped cream

For a non-frozen yet still creamy topping, place a dollop of whipped cream on top of each serving.

5. Chocolate sauce

Heated chocolate sauce provides the dessert with an earthy and decadent flavor.


For more Christmasy foods and drinks, browse these mouthwatering recipes!

This Blender Eggnog Recipe Whips Up to Creamy Perfection — So Easy + Delicious!

Christmas Brownies That’ll Make Your Holidays Even Sweeter — 10 Easy Recipes

This Rum Ham Will Get Everyone in the Holiday Spirit — So Easy + Delicious!

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