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Farmers Almanac
The 2014 Farmers Almanac
Farmers' Almanac

Bring Us a Figgy Pudding!

Bring Us a Figgy Pudding!

Oh, bring us a figgy pudding;
Oh, bring us a figgy pudding;
Oh, bring us a figgy pudding and a cup of good cheer

We won’t go until we get some;
We won’t go until we get some;
We won’t go until we get some, so bring some out here

These strangely demanding lyrics make up the central verses of the popular Christmas carol “We Wish You a Merry Christmas.” The song was written in England during the sixteenth-century, at a time when it was traditional for wealthy landowners to offer tasty treats to carolers on Christmas Eve. One treat that was popular at the time was clearly figgy pudding, but what the heck is figgy pudding, anyway, and is it really worth getting so pushy about?

Here in North America, the word “pudding” generally conjures up an image of a creamy dessert that comes from a box from the grocery store. In England, though, pudding is a broader term that refers to any sweet or savory concoction made from a dairy or starch base. Many traditional puddings come closer to what most of us would call cake. The term is also used to describe any dessert, whether or not it could be officially considered a “pudding.”

Following that logic, figgy pudding could be any type of dessert containing figs. Traditional figgy pudding, though, was a steamed soft bread containing figs, nuts and spices, and held together with suet, a type of fat taken from the area around an animal’s kidneys. Sometimes rum or other liquors would be added. The mixture would then be hung in a porous bag, similar to cheesecloth, and steamed for several hours. After steaming, it might continue to hang for several days or weeks to intensify in flavor.

When served, a traditional holiday pudding would be garnished with holly or other festive greenery.

Today, few people cook with suet, and figgy pudding has been out of favor for at least a century. The following recipe offers a modern twist on making this old fashioned treat:

Figgy Pudding

Ingredients:
1 stick butter
2 eggs
1 cup molasses
2 cups dried figs, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon peel
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Directions:

Cream the room temperature butter in an electric mixer until fluffy. Add in the eggs and molasses and beat again. Add in the figs, lemon peel, buttermilk, and walnuts and blend for approximately one minute. Add in the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg, and blend until everything is incorporated. Grease and flour an 8″ x 4″ soufflé dish and pour in the batter. Bake at 325° F for 1 hour, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Serve with whipped cream.

6 comments

1 Dawn DeFosses { 12.25.13 at 9:43 am }

I have always wondered what figgy pudding was. Judging from the movie Scrooge it looks more like a lava cake especially the way he cuts into it with a spoon.

2 A very interesting fact. I always wondered what was figgy pudding it looks like a lava type cake in the movie. { 12.25.13 at 9:41 am }

I enjoy reading little articles like this. Fun facts. Thank you.

3 Susi { 12.23.13 at 4:12 pm }

Your recipe for figgy pudding sounds much better than the suet
version! Thank you, Jaime.

4 Rosia Morrison { 12.23.13 at 12:24 pm }

Never heard this before, Very interesting *** Merry Christmas & Happy New Year.

5 admin { 12.09.10 at 9:12 am }
6 anton schmit { 12.09.10 at 12:57 am }

You showed ‘Eggnog Snickerdoodles’ under cookies and when I tried to get the recipe, it couldn’t find it. Any ideas? This sounds good to me and I would like to try them. Thank You….

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