Bring Us Some Figgy Pudding … But What Is It?

What the heck is figgy pudding, anyway, and is it really worth getting all pushy about? We explain.

Oh, bring us some figgy pudding;
Oh, bring us some figgy pudding;
Oh, 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 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?

The Proof is in the Pudding?

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 the 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:

Christmas pudding - Custard

Figgy Pudding

Course Dessert
Cuisine British, English

Equipment

  • 8″ x 4″ soufflé dish

Ingredients
  

  • 1 stick butter (room temperature)
  • 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

Instructions
 

  • 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 or simple icing.
Keyword figgy pudding, figgy pudding recipe, figgy pudding recipe without alcohol, Traditional Figgy Pudding Recipe
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!
Farmers' Almanac - Itch
Jaime McLeod

Jaime McLeod is a longtime journalist who has written for a wide variety of newspapers, magazines, and websites, including MTV.com. She enjoys the outdoors, growing and eating organic food, and is interested in all aspects of natural wellness.

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Kim potochnick

Jody, are you willing to share your fig pudding and hard sauce recipe?

Jody

My Mom sleays had Figgy Pudding at Christmas….I have her recipe, and yes, it calls for suet. Delicious………I have the recipe for the Hard Sauce slso.

June Mccraw

I’m going to try this figgy pudding. I have heard this song all my life but never knew there was an actual recipe. Thanks y’all

Norma

My moms best friend would collect ther fruits from her bushes -red and black currents, goosebrries rasberries and straw berries dry them and make her christmas pudding with those and of course black walnuts gathered from the tree out back of the house. everyone had to have one. best I ever tasted only molasses no sugar added

barbara paterson

My mom used to make ‘plum pudding’ for my father’s birthday which was at Christmas. She made it with dried fruits and brought it to the table with liquor poured over it and flaming. A liquor-laced ‘hard sauce’ was served with it.

Mikki

Looks like the suet pudding with brandy sauce that my late Mother used to make

it was so good but it didnt last long

Wanda in NC

I have made a Christmas pudding with suet, and it was too rich for me. The in-laws took it home with them. My old Joy of Cooking said that the small particles of suet melted slowly and made the flour around them puff up, IIRC without going to look. Bear in mind that you can buy Atora suet products online, some of which are vegetable.

Deb Walker

I love all the tidbit facts that I find with you!!!!!

Judith Vandenboom

My grandmother always made this,served it with a white hard sauce. Her recipe made huge amounts.

Ned

Thank you!
I may get my spouse to try this. I didn’t know what figgy pudding was either!
The ingredients look good.

dan

This looks delicious! I’m going to try it-thanks!

michele

there is a company in upstate NY http://www.theartofpudding.com that will ship you Figgy Pudding. It’s delicious!

Kathy

That actually reads like a delicious recipe!

Dawn DeFosses

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.

A very interesting fact. I always wondered what was figgy pudding it looks like a lava type cake in the movie.

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

Susi

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

Rosia Morrison

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

anton schmit

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….

admin

Hi Anton,

It’s listed under desserts: Eggnog Snickerdoodles

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