Christmas Fare of Film & Song “Figgy Pudding” from “We Wish You a Merry Christmas” & a little history


mymcpl
Warm & Sticky Figgy or Christmas Pudding

Christmas Tradition ~

Figgy pudding is a very old Christmas tradition. Also called Christmas pudding, it is traditionally made on the Sunday before Advent. This was called “Stir-Up Sunday”.

Making good old time Christmas foods is much easier today than it was in the distant past. To make an old favorite, like Figgy pudding, one can bring back a feeling of nostalgia with the tried and true original method, or try a much quicker method. Either way, the pudding is going to taste good. It is not actually a pudding, but more like a bread.

Figgy pudding is traditionally served on Christmas Day. It is the traditional finale to a proper British Christmas dinner. In the Charles Dickens A Christmas Carol, he describes how nervous Mrs. Cratchit was “to take the pudding up and bring it in.” Since it was the highlight of the holiday supper, Mrs. Cratchit was all aflutter and in a great worry that the pudding she had spent two days on preparing and hours of steaming had turned out right. The whole family awaited in abandoned joy and anticipation. Finally in she brings the long awaited dessert, pride showing on her face, to the dining room.

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Speckled cannon ball ~

“In she comes with the pudding, like a speckled cannon-ball, so hard and firm, blazing in half of half-a-quart of ignited brandy, and bedight with Christmas holly stuck into the top.” – A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

stirring-the-christmas-pudding-life-mag-image1
Stirring the Christmas Pudding

Origins ~

The origin of Figgy pudding goes back to medieval England. At that time it was not a dessert, but a method of preserving meats for the winter months. Dried meats and fruits were kept in a pastry bag. When liquids were added to the dried mix it all expanded, and when cooked in pies, it fed many people. It was a very savory dish, not sweet at all. It was originally called “frumenty”, made with beef, mutton, raisins, currants, prunes, wine and several spices. It was more like a soup.

By the end of the 14th century, the addition of eggs, breadcrumbs, dried fruits, beer and spirits gave it more flavor and a thicker consistency. The Figgy pudding of today is more like bread. In Victorian England, the pudding contained less meat with additions of flour, suet, sugar, fruits, and spices, which resulted in the delicious Christmas dessert of today. It is also called plum pudding by some, although there are no plums in it.

a-slice-of-figgy-pudding
A slice of figgy pudding with cream

A traditional Figgy pudding takes two days to make. The first day is when all the ingredients are mixed well, covered, refrigerated and left overnight. On the next day, you grease a basin (a stainless steel pan with no handle), put the dough in it, and cover the dough with wax paper. The basin is then sat in a large pan of water to steam for eight hours. When the pudding is cool, it is wrapped in wax paper and put into a pastry bag and stored till Christmas day. Prior to serving, the pudding is warmed up by the steaming method for two hours. To serve, warm brandy is poured over the pudding and lit. The flaming pudding is ceremoniously taken to the table as the family anxiously await that great moment.

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups chopped dried pitted dates

3/4 cup chopped dried figs

2 cups water

1 teaspoon baking soda

7 tablespoons butter, softened

1 cup superfine sugar

2 eggs

2 1/2 cups self-rising flour

2 1/2-ounces dark chocolate, grated

Butter, for coating ramekins

Ice cream or whipped cream, for garnish

Sauce:

2 cups brown sugar

2 cups heavy cream

14 tablespoons butter

Fresh figs, quartered, for garnish

Vanilla ice cream, optional

Whipped heavy cream, optional

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Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Add dates, dried figs and water to a medium saucepan and bring to boil over medium heat. Remove pan from heat and stir in the baking soda. Let cool for about 5 minutes, then add to a blender and puree.

Using a hand mixer, cream butter and sugar in a large bowl. Add eggs and beat well. Fold in flour, the pureed date mixture and the chocolate.

Put mixture into 4 buttered, 1-cup individual ramekins, filling halfway or slightly under. Put in the oven and bake for 20 to 25 minutes.

Prepare sauce by stirring sugar, cream and butter in a medium saucepan over low heat. Simmer until sugar dissolves. Raise heat and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Add butter and stir until incorporated.

Remove ramekins from oven and let stand for 10 minutes. May be served in ramekin or unmolded onto a small serving plate. With paring knife cut a cross in the top of the puddings for the sauce.

Pour sauce into the cross in the center of each pudding, then pour more sauce over the puddings and it allow to soak in slightly. Top with fresh figs and vanilla ice cream or heavily whipped cream. Serve warm.

“We Wish You a Merry Christmas”

We wish you a Merry Christmas

We wish you a Merry Christmas

We wish you a Merry Christmas

And a Happy New Year

Good tidings we bring

To you and your kin

We wish you a Merry Christmas

And a Happy New Year

Now bring us some figgy pudding

Now bring us some figgy pudding

Now bring us some 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 it right here

So bring us some figgy pudding

So bring us some figgy pudding

So bring us some figgy pudding

And bring it right here

Good tidings we bring

To you and your kin

We wish you a Merry Christmas

And a Happy New Year

Repeat Chorus Three Times…

Small pudding photo source: mymcpl Story adapted by Phyllis Doyle Burns

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12 Comments Add yours

  1. Very beautiful post Lana and lovely recipe! It is interesting to see what is actually in it after hearing about it so much for years!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Lynn! Yes! There are so many goodies in this recipe–it’s really lovely with hard sauce or cream…or both 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. srmemporium says:

    Excellent post, Lana!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Lana, what a festive way to celebrate the holidays. The Figgy Pudding sounds delicious. I’m a fan of dates, but seldom indulge myself the rest of the year. I love your sense of adventure! 🍓

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Awww! Thank you, Gail! Dates are decadent that’s for certain! I love adding a little history to some of my posts. Makes me want to watch a little Dickens this Christmas!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Definitely nostalgic!

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Freda! It’s truly very rich & lovely…a once a year indulgence 🙂

      Like

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