Monday, December 5, 2011

Christmas Recipes: Oh Bring Us Some Figgy Pudding

I love to cook. Cooking to me is like poetry: a kind of alchemy in which ordinary ingredients are combined and transformed into something extraordinary. Nothing is more extraordinary and celebratory than good food! One thing I like about the Christmas season is the opportunity to celebrate with food. I'll be posting some of my favorite recipes during the month of December.

"Figgy pudding" is one of the English traditions around Christmastime. When carolers  would go about from house to house singing Christmas carols, it was customary to end with "We Wish You a Merry Christmas." The final verse of that carol is "Oh bring us some figgy pudding" because it was also customary for people to bring Christmas goodies out to the carolers, who would playfully sing "We won't go until we get some (figgy pudding)."

I had never tried fig pudding until I was an adult. Shortly after my wife and I were married and I was experimenting more with cooking, I decided to try making it myself. I went to one of those specialty kitchen shops and found a traditional pudding mold. I had a cookbook that included a few recipes for fig pudding and I picked out the one that looked like what I was wanting (and did not call for suet!). It's fun to make and is always a hit. I have used this recipe for "Rich Fig Pudding" almost every year for over 20 years. One year I tried a new recipe that I found in Laurel's Kitchen vegetarian cookbook. I blogged about my experience with this new recipe in You Can't Go Wrong with Figgy Pudding. You can see both recipes below.


(Recipe from The Illustrated Encyclopedia of American Cooking)

7 eggs, separated
1 c. sugar
3/4 lb. bread crumbs
1/2 lb. dried figs, chopped
1/2 cup butter, melted
1/2 tsp. allspice
1/2 tsp. vanilla
2 tblsp. brandy

Beat egg yolks until light, beating in sugar gradually.
Beat egg whites until stiff; fold into egg yolk mixture.
Add bread crumbs, figs, butter, allspice, vanilla
and brandy; mix lightly. Turn into greased 2-quart
mold; cover. Steam for about 4 hours. Serve with hard sauce.

Hard Sauce
1 stick butter
1 1/2 c. confectioners' sugar
1 tsp brandy
Dash of nutmeg

Cream butter; beat in confectioners' sugar gradually.
Add brandy, drop by drop. Place in serving dish;
sprinkle with nutmeg. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

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Figgy Pudding

(Recipe from The New Laurel’s Kitchen  cookbook)

Traditional as can be, and delicious, Figgy Pudding contains lots
less fat than pie, though you'd never guess it.


2 tablespoons soft butter
½ cup honey


1 cup chopped dried figs, packed
1 apple, peeled and sliced
1 cup apple juice

zest of 1 lemon
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup raisins
1 cup finely chopped walnuts
2 cups soft whole wheat bread crumbs

1 cup whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
½  teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon nutmeg
¼ teaspoon ground cloves

                              ~   ~    ~    ~    ~

Cream butter and honey. Separate eggs, setting whites aside.
Beat egg yolks until creamy. Add to butter-honey mixture.
Use a blender or food processor to grind figs and apples with
apple juice to jamlike consistency. Combine with lemon rind,
vanilla, raisins, walnuts, bread crumbs, and the egg yolk mixture.

Sift flour with baking powder, salt, soda, cinnamon, nutmeg,
and cloves. Beat egg whites until stiff. Combine wet ingredients
with dry, then gently fold in egg whites. Turn batter out into a
greased 2-quart casserole or pudding mold with a lid. You can
use parchment or foil for a lid, securing it with twine, but be sure
to allow room for expansion: the pudding will rise to about half
again its uncooked size.

Place pudding on a rack inside a pot large enough to give 2
inches of space all around for the steam to circulate. Pour boiling
water into the pot halfway up the sides of the casserole. Cover the
pot and let water boil briskly a few moments, then turn heat to
low. Keep an eye on the water and replenish it if the level goes
down. Steam for 2V2 hours or until top springs back when

To unmold, turn out carefully onto a plate. Splash with brandy
and ignite, if you like, and serve with a scoop of vanilla ice cream
or with the topping below.
Serves 12.

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Last year during the month of December I posted 12 of my favorite Christmas songs. These songs are still on my blog. To read about them and hear them go up to the top of the blog page and click on "Videos." Then scroll down to "The Joys of Christmas" where you will see the web links listed. 



  1. I love the idea of posting your best recipes during the Christmas season! I don't remember if I have ever had fig pudding, but I'll have to try it. Keep the recipes coming..

  2. Thanks for the recipe ... permission to try it ...


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