Learn how to make figgy pudding, the Christmas dessert from Charles Dickens’ Christmas Carol, with this easy recipe.  Figgy pudding is an elegant English dessert that is made with dried fruit and brandy.  It’s a delicious treat you won’t want to miss!

Prep Time: 1 hour
figgy pudding with greenery
Christmas, Steamed Puddings

Traditional Figgy Pudding Recipe

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Figgy pudding will be the star of your Christmas dinner!  Just like Mrs. Crachit from A Christmas Carol, you can enjoy each bite of this moist, flavorful pudding.  It’s easy to put together; just make it in advance, and you’ll have an unforgettable Christmas dessert.

top view of a figgy pudding

What is figgy pudding?

You might have heard of figgy pudding from Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, or the song “We Wish You a Merry Christmas.”  Figgy pudding is a dense, moist cake full of dried fruit.  Traditional figgy pudding is steamed in a pot of boiling water, not baked in the oven, and is aged in a cool, dry place for a few weeks before serving.

What is figgy pudding made of?

Figgy pudding is basically a dense cake packed with dried fruit.  Here are the important components of figgy pudding.

  • Dried fruit.  Use figs and any other kind of dried fruit you like.  Raisins, currants, and sultanas (golden raisins) are good choices.
  • Nuts. Feel free to use any kind of nut you want, as long as it is chopped in small pieces.  Walnuts or almonds are most popular.
  • Alcohol. The dried fruit is soaked in brandy before being added to the pudding; it adds flavor and helps keep the pudding from spoiling while it ages.
  • Cake batter.  The cake batter for figgy pudding is quite simple to mix up.  The batter contains breadcrumbs to lighten the texture of the pudding.

cooked figgy pudding with greenery

What does figgy pudding taste like?

Figgy pudding has a rich, almost caramelized flavor from the long steaming and aging time.  The pudding is dense and moist, and packed with sweet dried fruit.  It tastes even better when served with brandy butter, a sweet mixture of icing sugar, butter, orange zest, and brandy.

Why do they call it figgy pudding?

Figgy pudding is so named because it contains figs.  Wonder why it’s called a pudding when it’s a cake?  In the UK, steamed cakes like this are called puddings.  In addition, the term “pudding” also can refer to dessert in general.

Is figgy pudding the same as plum pudding?

Figgy pudding and plum pudding are very similar, but they are not identical.  The key difference is that figgy pudding contains figs, while plum pudding does not.

Can I skip the alcohol in figgy pudding?

It’s best to use alcohol in figgy pudding.  Otherwise, the pudding will not keep as long or stay as fresh.  If you must skip the alcohol, freeze the pudding after its 4 week aging time to keep it preserved.  The alcohol also adds flavor to make it taste like a traditional figgy pudding.

Can you make figgy pudding in advance?

Yes, you can and should make figgy pudding at least 4 weeks in advance.  The most popular time to make it is on Stir Up Sunday which is the last Sunday before Advent.  If you eat the pudding right away, it will not taste good.  It needs at least a month of aging time in a cool, dark place to develop the rich flavors that make it so delicious.

figgy pudding with greenery and red berries

Does figgy pudding need to be refrigerated?

No, figgy pudding does not need to be refrigerated.  The pudding will keep for a year in a cool, dark, dry place if it is tightly wrapped in plastic wrap and foil.  The alcohol and the high sugar content from the dried fruit will keep the pudding preserved.

Can you freeze figgy pudding?

Yes, you can freeze figgy pudding.  Make sure it has aged for at least 4 weeks in a cool, dry place before freezing.

To freeze a figgy pudding, remove it from the pudding basin and wrap it tightly in two layers of plastic wrap, followed by a layer of aluminum foil.  Freeze for up to 1 year, then defrost at room temperature.  Warm and serve with brandy butter.

How do you flame a figgy pudding?

This step is optional, but definitely makes your figgy pudding an awe-inspiring centerpiece at Christmas dinner!  Here’s how to do it.  Get step-by-step photos here.

  • Pour 2 tablespoons of brandy into a metal soup ladle so it will conduct the heat.
  • Hold the ladle of brandy over three lit tealights until it begins to steam and swirl in the ladle .  The heat from the burning candles will warm the brandy.
  • Carefully tip the ladle towards one of the flames to catch the brandy on fire.
  • Pour the flaming brandy over the figgy pudding and enjoy the blue flames.  Be sure to have the lights off so you can see the flames.
  • Once the flames have burned out, serve the pudding.

How to Make Figgy Pudding

Gather the dried fruit and brandy.  You’ll need mission figs, raisins, golden raisins, and currants.

bowls of dried fruit and brandy

Toss the dried fruit and brandy together until well mixed, then let stand for at least 1 hour (preferably overnight).

fruit mixture for figgy pudding

Cut a piece of foil and parchment large enough to cover a large pudding basin.  Fold a 1-inch pleat in the center of the foil and parchment.

sheet of aluminum foil and parchment paper

Butter a large pudding basin and place a circle of parchment in the bottom.

pudding basin buttered and lined with parchment paper

Gather the ingredients for the cake batter.  You’ll need butter, brown sugar, molasses, eggs, flour, orange zest, mixed spice, cloves, nutmeg, baking powder, breadcrumbs, and chopped walnuts.

ingredients for figgy pudding

Beat the butter until pale, about 2 minutes.

beaten butter in a bowl with a hand mixer

Add the brown sugar and beat until fluffy, about 1 minute.

creamed butter and sugar mixture with a hand mixer

Pour in the molasses, then beat in the eggs one at a time.  Add a spoonful of flour with each egg to prevent the batter from curdling.

egg and butter mixture with a hand mixer

Sprinkle on the flour, spices, baking powder, orange zest, and breadcrumbs.

sprinkling spices, breadcrumbs, and flour into cake batter

Fold everything together until well blended.

cake batter in a glass bowl with a spatula

Dump in the chopped walnuts and the soaked fruit mixture along with any liquid, then mix until evenly combined.

figgy pudding batter in a glass bowl

Pack the mixture into the buttered pudding basin.

figgy pudding batter in a pudding basin

Cover with the parchment and foil, tying it tightly with string under the lip of the basin to secure.

wrapping a figgy pudding for steaming

Tie a string handle onto the pudding so you can easily remove the pudding from the pot of boiling water later.

tying the string handle onto figgy pudding

Bring a kettle of water to a boil.  Meanwhile, place a metal jam jar lid in a large Dutch oven.

metal jam jar lid inside of a Dutch oven

Place the wrapped pudding inside of the pot, sitting it on top of the jam jar lid.  Pour boiling water halfway up the side of the pudding basin and return the pot to a boil.  Turn down to a simmer and cook for 4-5 hours.

Check the pudding every hour or so and add more water to keep the level halfway up the basin.

steaming a figgy pudding in a Dutch oven

The pudding is done when it is a rich, dark brown.  A skewer inserted into the center should come out clean.

Let the pudding cool completely, then re-cover it with fresh parchment and foil and let it age for at least 4 weeks before serving.  Steam it for 1 1/2 hours before serving to warm it, then serve with brandy butter.

testing a figgy pudding with a skewer

Pro Tips

  • Make figgy pudding at least 4 weeks in advance.  It will not taste good if you eat it right away.
  • Soak the dried fruit for at least 1 hour, preferably overnight.  This softens the fruit and improves the flavor.
  • Place a metal jam jar lid in the bottom of the pot before putting the pudding in the pot for steaming.  This raises the pudding off of the bottom of the pot.
  • Keep the water level halfway up the side of the pudding basin.  You’ll need to top up the pot with boiling water throughout the steaming process.
  • The pudding is done when a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean.
  • Only flame the pudding once.  Pouring extra brandy on the pudding will make it soggy and taste unappealing.

Our Go-To Kitchen Tools

Have a traditional British Christmas with these other festive bakes.

holding a forkful of plum pudding Slice of Christmas fruitcake on a white plate holding a bowl of brandy butter

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figgy pudding with greenery

Traditional Figgy Pudding Recipe


  • Author: Emma
  • Prep Time: 1 hour
  • Cook Time: 4 hours
  • Total Time: 5 hours
  • Yield: 10 servings 1x

Description

Learn how to make figgy pudding, the Christmas dessert from Charles Dickens’ Christmas Carol, with this easy recipe.  Figgy pudding is an elegant English dessert that is made with dried fruit and brandy.  It’s a delicious treat you won’t want to miss!


Scale

Ingredients

For the Fruit Mixture

  • 1 3/4 cups mission figs, diced (250g)
  • 1/2 cup raisins (85g)
  • 1/2 cup golden raisins (85g)
  • 1/2 cup dried currants (85g)
  • 1/2 cup brandy (120 ml)

For the Cake Batter

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter (115g)
  • 3/4 cup dark brown sugar, packed (150g)
  • 1 tablespoon molasses (15 ml)
  • 1 tablespoon orange zest
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2/3 cup all-purpose flour (75g)
  • 1/2 cup plain breadcrumbs (40g)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon mixed spice
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 cup walnuts, chopped (50g)

Instructions

Prepare the Fruit & Pudding Basin (30 min + 1 hr soaking)

  1. Soak the fruit.  Dice the figs, then toss them with the raisins, golden raisins, currants, and brandy until well mixed.  Cover the fruit mixture and let stand for at least 1 hour, stirring occasionally.  If you have the time, let the fruit stand overnight.
  2. Prepare the basin.  Lightly butter a 1.5-liter pudding basin and line its bottom with a circle of parchment paper.  If you don’t have a pudding basin, use a mixing bowl or other large bowl with a rim.
  3. Make the pudding cover.  Cut a piece of aluminum foil and parchment paper large enough to cover the basin.  Place the parchment on top of the foil, then fold a 1-inch pleat in the center of the covering.

Making the Cake Batter (30 min)

  1. Cream the butter. Beat the butter with an electric mixer on medium-high speed until pale, about 2 minutes.  Add the brown sugar and beat until fluffy, about 1 minute.
  2. Add eggs.  Beat in the molasses, then the eggs in one at a time, adding a couple spoonfuls of flour with each egg to prevent the mixture from curdling.
  3. Add dry ingredients.  Fold the flour, breadcrumbs, baking powder, orange zest, and spices into the egg mixture until smooth and well blended.  Make sure there are no lumps of flour or other ingredients.
  4. Add the fruit.  Dump the chopped walnuts, the fruit mixture, and any remaining brandy into the cake batter.  Gently stir the figgy pudding batter until everything is well mixed, then pack the batter into the prepared pudding basin.
  5. Cover the pudding.  Place the prepared cover parchment-side down on top of the pudding.  Tightly tie a string under the rim of the pudding basin, then make a string handle so you can lift the pudding out of the pot.  Roll up the edges of the foil and parchment to create a seal.

Steaming the Pudding (4 hrs)

  1. Make a steamer.  Bring a large kettle of water to a boil.  Place a metal jam jar lid on the bottom of a 6-quart Dutch oven and put the covered pudding on top of the lid.
  2. Steam the pudding.  Once the water has boiled, pour enough boiling water into the pot to go halfway up the pudding basin.  Cover the Dutch oven with its lid and bring the pot to a full boil, then turn the heat down to low and simmer for 4 to 5 hours.  Check the pudding every hour or so and top up the pot with fresh boiling water to keep the water level halfway up the pudding basin.
  3. Check the pudding.  The pudding is cooked when it is a dark brown and a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean.
  4. Cool and age.  Let the pudding cool uncovered until it’s completely cool, about 6 to 8 hours.  Re-cover it with fresh parchment and foil, as you did earlier, and store in a cool, dark place for at least 4 weeks.  This aging time allows the pudding to develop a richer flavor.
  5. Reheat.  Just before serving, steam the pudding for 1 1/2 to 2 hours.  Turn it out onto the serving plate and peel off the parchment circle.
  6. Serve.  Pour warm brandy over the pudding and ignite it with a long kitchen match for a dramatic presentation of blue flames.  Once the flames die down, garnish the pudding with a holly sprig and serve with brandy butter.

Notes

  • Make this recipe perfectly the first time.  Check out the step-by-step photos and pro tips before the recipe card.
  • The pleasure of a 5-star review for this figgy pudding recipe would be greatly appreciated.
  • 👩🏻‍🍳 Want to see our latest recipes?  Subscribe to our email newsletter to get our latest recipes, fun food facts, food puns, and behind the scenes news about our blog.
  • Category: Pudding
  • Method: Steamed
  • Cuisine: English

Keywords: figgy pudding recipe, traditional

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2 thoughts on “Traditional Figgy Pudding Recipe

  1. Figgy pudding looks so good. I can’t wait to see how it tastes come December. I learned lots about this traditional dessert.

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