Figgy pudding will be the star of your Christmas dinner! If you've been wondering what figgy pudding tastes like after hearing "We Wish You a Merry Christmas," you can finally find out! It's easy to put together; just make it in advance, and you'll have an unforgettable Christmas dessert.
Figgy pudding dates back to medieval England. During this time, it was popular to make a variety of sweet and savory dishes using figs. By the 15th century, a mixture of figs boiled in wine was combined with bread, more wine, spices, and raisins.
By the Victorian era, it had morphed into a steamed suet pudding, according to Mrs Beeton's Book of Household Management. In modern times, figgy pudding is made with a variety of dried fruit, and can be made using butter in place of suet, which is often hard to find.
Why This Recipe Works
- The fruit is soaked in brandy. This adds juiciness to the dried fruit, and the alcohol helps preserve the pudding.
- It's steamed for 4 hours. This is long enough to cook the pudding and caramelize the sugars in the batter, turning it brown.
- It's aged for 4 weeks before serving. Storing the figgy pudding away in a cool, dark place allows the flavors to develop and mature, making the pudding rich and flavorful.
Figgy pudding contains a number of ingredients, but most of them are easy to find at your local grocery store. Let's talk about the most important ingredients.
- Butter: Traditionally, suet would have been used instead of butter, but since this is very hard to find and expensive here in the US, I used butter in this recipe.
- Breadcrumbs: This unconventional ingredient lightens the texture of the pudding and absorbs melted fat from the butter (or suet).
- Baking Powder: Although not a traditional addition, a touch of baking powder lightens the texture, keeping the pudding from being overly dense and stodgy.
- Fruit: Any mixture of dried fruit, as long as it consists largely of raisins, will be perfect. I use a mixture of raisins, sultanas, figs, and currants, but you can add apricots, cranberries, or other fruits as well.
- Alcohol: The usual choice is brandy, but feel free to use rum if you prefer.
See recipe card for full information on ingredients and quantities.
How to Make
- Toss the dried fruit and brandy together until well mixed, then let stand for at least 1 hour (preferably overnight).
2. Beat the butter until pale, about 2 minutes.
3. Add the brown sugar and beat until fluffy, about 1 minute. 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.
4. Sprinkle on the flour, spices, baking powder, orange zest, and breadcrumbs, then fold everything together until well blended.
5. Dump in the walnuts and the soaked fruit mixture along with any liquid, then mix until evenly combined.
6. Grease the pudding basin and line the base with parchment paper, then pack the mixture into the basin.
7. Cover with the parchment and foil, tying it tightly with string under the lip of the basin to secure. Tie a string handle onto the rim so you can easily remove it from the pot of boiling water later.
8. Bring a kettle of water to a boil. Meanwhile, place a metal jam jar lid in a large Dutch oven.
9. Place the figgy pudding inside of the pot, sitting it on top of the jam jar lid. Pour boiling water halfway up the side of the basin and return the pot to a boil. Turn down to a simmer and cook for 4-5 hours. Check it every hour or so and add more water to keep the level halfway up the basin.
10. The pudding is done when it is a rich, dark brown. A skewer inserted into the center should come out clean.
11. Let it 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 ½ hours before serving to warm it, then serve with brandy butter.
Figgy pudding is a moist cake full of dried fruit, and tastes similar to plum pudding. Traditionally, it's steamed in a pot of boiling water, and is aged in a cool, dark place for a few weeks before serving. It consists of a dense cake batter, dried fruit, nuts, spices, breadcrumbs, and brandy. It traditionally uses suet in place of butter.
It is so named because it contains figs. In the UK, steamed cakes like this are called puddings. In addition, the term "pudding" also can refer to dessert in general.
Traditionally, figgy pudding did not contain figs. "Figgy" is a general term that refers to any dried fruit, not figs in particular. Many modern recipes for figgy pudding do contain figs, however.
It was common for the baker to hide a sixpence (silver coin) in the figgy pudding. According to legend, whoever found the sixpence would have good luck in the coming new year.
Flaming the pudding right before serving is optional, but definitely makes for an awe-inspiring experience at Christmas dinner! Here's how to do it.
- Pour 2 tablespoons of brandy into a metal soup ladle.
- Hold the ladle of brandy over three lit tealights until it begins to steam and swirl in the ladle. The heat from the 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 warmed figgy pudding and enjoy the blue flames. Be sure to have the lights off so you can see the flames.
- Once the flames have completely burned out, serve and enjoy.
Make Ahead: You must make figgy pudding at least 4 weeks in advance. The most popular time is on Stir Up Sunday, which is the last Sunday before Advent. If you eat it 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.
Leftovers: It does not need to be refrigerated. It 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 it preserved.
Freezing: Yes, you can freeze it. Make sure it has aged for at least 4 weeks in a cool, dry place before freezing. To freeze, remove it from the 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.
- Make it 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 it in the pot for steaming. This raises it off of the bottom of the pot.
- Keep the water level halfway up the side of the basin. You'll need to top up the pot with boiling water throughout the steaming process.
- The figgy pudding is done when a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean.
Other Christmas Recipes
If you liked this recipe and found it helpful, give it some love by sharing!
The pleasure of a 5-star review would be greatly appreciated!
Traditional Figgy Pudding Recipe
For the Fruit Mixture
- 1 ¾ cups mission figs, diced
- ½ cup raisins
- ½ cup golden raisins
- ½ cup dried currants
- ½ cup brandy
Prepare the Fruit & Basin (30 min + 1 hr soaking)
- 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.
- Lightly butter a 1.5-liter pudding basin and line its bottom with a circle of parchment paper. If you don't have a basin, use a mixing bowl or other large bowl with a rim.
- 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)
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Dump the chopped walnuts, the fruit mixture, and any remaining brandy into the cake batter. Gently stir the batter until everything is well mixed, then pack the batter into the prepared basin.
- Place the prepared cover parchment-side down on top of the basin. Tightly tie a string under the rim of the 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)
- 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.
- Once the water has boiled, pour enough boiling water into the pot to go halfway up the 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 every hour or so and top up the pot with fresh boiling water to keep the water level halfway up the basin.
- It's cooked when it is a dark brown and a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean.
- Let it 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.
- Just before serving, steam it again for 1 ½ to 2 hours. Turn it out onto the serving plate and peel off the parchment circle.
- Make the pudding at least 1 month ahead. It will not taste good right away.
- Soak the dried fruit for at least 1 hour, preferably overnight, before adding it to the batter.
- Check the pudding occasionally. You'll need to top up the pot with boiling water throughout the steaming process to keep the water level halfway up the basin.
- The pudding is done when a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean.
- Leftovers can be frozen, as long as they are well wrapped in plastic wrap, foil, and sealed inside of a plastic bag, for up to 1 year.
Serving sizes and nutritional information are only an estimate and may vary from your results.