Extra Helpings: Figgy Pudding Explained

4 years ago

Ana asks: What in the heck is Figgy Pudding?

Ana, you've hit Christmas song overload.   Figgy Pudding dates back to the 16th century, when fig trees were plentiful in England and the song, “We Wish You A Merry Christmas,”first became popular.

First of all, Figgy Pudding is more like a cake, really, and less of a pudding (or what we think of as a pudding in the United States).The recipe originally called for mashed figs, flour (or breadcrumbs), eggs and heavy cream (to make a custard), “Christmas Spices” (most likely cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice), dates, apples, nuts and often suet (animal fat). This concoction was then steamed. Some recipes today call for it to be baked or boiled.

Raisins and currents, which are less expensive, eventually replaced the figs, but the dessert fell out of vogue (most likely because it takes hours and hours to cook). Recently, there’s been resurgence of old and cherished British recipes, so authentic Figgy Pudding is making a bit of a comeback.

There’s been some argument as to whether Figgy Pudding is really Figgy “Dowdy” Pudding, a dessert eaten on early British sailing ships made with provisions kept on board. The ingredients are similar (although not exactly), so it’s possible.

I’ve never made a Figgy Pudding, but after doing all this research, I just might. I’m sure my kids would love it because most of the recipes call for finishing it with a liqueur and then setting it aflame!

Mama’s always had a soft spot in her heart for flaming desserts… and firemen, too. But that’s another story.  

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