From Too Many Chefs -

December 9, 2004
Now Bring Me Some Figgy Pudding!

You sing songs as a kid and often have NO idea what the words mean. Famously for me, I thought the Steve Miller Band's "Big Old Jet Airliner" was "Bingo Jed Had a Light On" for YEARS. What exactly did "Bingo Jed Had a Light On" mean, in my estimation? I had no idea. But then, what the hell is a pompatus of love?

The problem isn't always in misunderstanding the lyric. Sometimes you just have no clue as to what the words mentioned in songs are. Vocabulary changes over time. Christmas songs are especially bad. "Here we go a'wassailing..." Huh? Wassailing? Frankincense? Myrrh? Virgin? Figgy Pudding?

But that's what we're here for today - figgy pudding. What you are looking at is the tail end of a genuine figgy pudding. I've always thought of puddings as the creamy panna cotta type stuff you get in snack packs with ring topped lids (yes, I AM a child of the Seventies, why do you ask?), but the English - most of the Brits, actually - mean something entirely different, and much more like a cake.

I stole this recipe from I've changed the directions a little to reflect my experiences, but the process and the ingredient list comes from that site.

The figgy pudding itself is great if a little strange to modern tastebuds. If you like Fig Newtons, you love this. If you like Christmas flavors and smells, you'll like this. Heck, if you like wassailing, you'll like this recipe.

Figgy Pudding
16 oz. dried Calimyrna figs (the light brown ones, not the black ones)
1 3/4 cup whole milk
1 1/2 cup AP flour
1 cup sugar
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp salt
3 eggs
1/2 cup (1 stick) melted butter
1 1/2 cups bread crumbs
1 tablespoon grated orange peel

Hard Sauce:
1 1/2 cup confectioner's (powdered) sugar
1/2 cup butter (1 stick) softened
2 tablespoons brandy
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 F.
Grease a 2 1/12 quart bundt pan with spray or butter.

Cut stems from figs and discard. Cut figs into 1/4" dice

In a a medium saucepan, heat milk and figs over medium-low heat but do NOT bring to a boil. Cook for 10-15 minutes stirring occasionally. The figs will perfume the milk and the milk will soften the figs.

The mixture may look curdled, but don't worry.

In a medium bowl (not your mixer's bowl, we'll use that next), mix flour, sugar, baking powder, nutmeg, cinnamon, and salt.

In your mixers bowl, beat eggs one minute on high. Reduce speed to low and add butter, bread crumbs, orange peel, and warm fig mixture.

Slowly incorporate flour mixture. Beat until just blended.

Pour/spoon the mix into the greased bundt pan. If using an intricate mold/pan, push mix deep into all crevices so it will take the shape when baked. Level top as much as possible. Giving the pan a half twist back and forth will sometimes help the mix find a nice level surface.

Cover the mold with a piece of aluminum foil greased on one side, greased side down.

Place the mold in a roasting pan and place on oven rack. fIll with hot tap water 2 inches up the side of the mold.

Bake for 2 hours or until the pudding is firm and it is pulling away from the side of the bundt pan.

Now, make the sauce. With a mixer, mix all the sauce ingredients together until creamy.

Remove the pudding from the water bath. Remove the foil and cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes before unmolding. Invert bundt pan onto a serving plate/cake stand and remove mold. It should come away easily.

Serve warm with sauce. The sauce is more like frosting at room temperature, but if you heat it a bit, it will melt. I liked it more frosting-like.

If your friends make this treat when you visit - don't go until you get some. Don't go until you get some. Don't go until you get some, then bring it right here.

Posted by Barrett in Maryland at December 9, 2004 7:00 AM | TrackBack

The "serve warm" part is the troublesome issue for the Christmas meal (the oven space is limited and already reserved).

Will it take to a quick re-heat? or microwaves?

Posted by Tito on December 9, 2004 at 4:13 AM

I wouldn't try to nuke it as a whole. You could try it piece by piece, or put the whole thing in a low temperature oven and I think it would work out OK.

Honestly, because UI'm lazy, we ate it mostly at room temperature and it was fine. You just get more fragrance (which is wonderful) if its warm.

Posted by barrett on December 9, 2004 at 7:31 AM

I don't know whether the texture is similar to a traditional UK Christmas pudding, but if so microwaving is no problem at all. A Christmas pudding is very moist and so microwaving it essentiall "steams" the pudding and you don't get the funny microwaved-pastry texture that you can with bread-like substances. Just my two cents!

Posted by Meg in Paris on December 9, 2004 at 8:46 AM

It was very moist and soft. Is that traditional? I had expected something more fruitcake-like and was very pleasantly surprised.

Posted by barrett on December 9, 2004 at 9:33 AM

I've seen some other steamed pudding recipes that say you should NOT cover the hole in the Bundt pan. Did you cover yours, or leave it open? I'm definitely trying this recipe for the holidays!

Posted by Jaime on November 26, 2007 at 4:53 PM

i have never tried figgy pudding but im planing on making it...but i dont know how big it will turn out???

what is it like? a cake??

Posted by Sammie on December 9, 2007 at 3:43 PM

This recipe is very close to the one I have used for more than 30 years and that my mother and grandmother used for more than a century.

It is NOT a fruitcake, it is a PUDDING in the English sense, as in a firm yet relatively soft cake that is steamed for a long time (usually 2 hours or so).

Served hot or warm with the hardsauce recommended it will melt your heart and corrupt your soul!

If you need to heat individual leftovers, etc. , nuke them gentlly. The puding is so moist that you almost can never hurt it.

The hard sauce should always be served chilled or slightly above room temp.

Posted by sbfrankie on December 15, 2007 at 10:23 PM

For warm Thanksgiving or Christmas desserts, just put the dessert in the warm oven, turned of or as low as possible, while you eat the meal. The dessert is usually just right by the time you are ready for it. We bake apple pie the day before, but really like it hot, this works great. We started singing "We wish you a merry Christmas, which started a discussion about what that word was. I remembered the Muppets version and I won. So then we had to find a recipe. This is on the list of new thngs to try this Christmas.

Posted by Gloria on November 24, 2008 at 10:58 AM

I want the song not how to mae it

Posted by jerry on December 12, 2009 at 10:14 PM

Hi - I was looking for a recipe for a reader that wrote to me about figgy pudding - what do I know about it? Nothing. I came here and your post just cracked me up. Rare that I genuinely laugh over something I read on the net - but I'm still giggling. Must be I come from the same time and place. And by the way I still don't know what's a pompatus of love! Have a great Christmas and thanks so much for the laugh.

Posted by kim on December 21, 2010 at 2:03 AM

Why use calmyrna figs instead of black mission figs?

Posted by Margie on December 15, 2011 at 5:15 PM

I have made this every year for five years now, and everyone LOVES it! Thanks for sharing the recipe! I usually do use the black mission figs, and prefer the appearance and taste - contrasts well with the white hard sauce!

Posted by Sue on December 19, 2012 at 10:54 PM