What the Heck Is Figgy Pudding?

Now, bring us some figgy pudding,

Now, bring us some figgy pudding,

Now, bring us some figgy pudding, and bring it out here!

We’ve all heard and even sung this verse to one of the most popular Christmas carols of all time, “We Wish You a Merry Christmas,” but just why exactly are the carolers gleefully singing about and demanding figgy pudding? And more importantly, what the heck is figgy pudding anyway?

Figgy pudding, also known as plum, dates back to 14th-century Britain and it began humbly as a means for preserving food. It had the consistency of soup and was generally eaten leading up to an overly gluttonous Christmas as a way to fast in preparation. Figgy pudding ingredients included beef and mutton, raisins and prunes, wines, and spices.

Sometimes grains were added to make it more of a porridge-like meal and then it was known as “frumenty.” Later in the early 15th century, it developed into something called “plum pottage” and was made of meats, grains, vegetables, fats, spices, and fruits like raisins and currants. Usually not plums, despite the name. This delightful concoction was then poured into sausage casings made of animal stomachs and intestines. Using this preservation method, it could hold for months.

Fruit became more accessible by the end of the 16th century and the original plum pudding recipe became more of a sweet dish. This is when the “We Wish You a Merry Christmas” carol emerged. Lesser-fortunate townsfolk would sing this carol at the doors of the upper-class citizens in a fun way to be cheeky about their status differences at Christmastime, demanding a donation of figgy pudding.

Despite becoming a Christmas tradition in Britain, Puritans then banned figgy pudding and other Christmas desserts in 1647, but they were later reinstated by King George I. Eventually, the ingredients morphed into a closer version of what they are today.

Today’s recipe for a Christmas figgy pudding can consist of breadcrumbs, eggs, brown sugar, suet, raisins, currants, candied orange peel, nutmeg, cloves, allspice, and alcohol. Surprisingly, figs were never actually a standard ingredient of figgy pudding, but they were occasionally included.

If you’d like to try your hand at whipping together a figgy pudding this holiday season, I found the following recipe on the Food Network website and it does include figs.

Warm Sticky Figgy Pudding

Adapted from foodnetwork.com

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups chopped dried pitted dates

1/2 cup chopped dried figs

2 cups water

1 teaspoon baking soda

3 1/2 ounces or 7 tbsp. 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

Sauce:

2 cups brown sugar

2 cups heavy cream

7 ounces or 14 tbsp. butter

Fresh figs, quartered, for garnish

OPTIONAL: Vanilla ice cream or whipped cream

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Add dates, dried figs, and water to medium saucepan and bring to boil over medium heat. Remove pan from the heat and stir in baking soda. Let cool for about 5 minutes, then add to a blender and puree. Using a hand mixer, cream butter and sugar in large bowl. Add eggs and beat well. Fold in flour, pureed date mixture, and chocolate. Put mixture into four buttered, 1-cup individual ramekins, filling halfway or slightly under. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes.

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

Remove ramekins from oven and let stand 10 minutes. May be served in the ramekin or unmolded onto a small serving plate. With paring knife, cut a cross in the top of the puddings and pour sauce into the cross in center of each pudding, then pour more sauce over the puddings and allow it to soak in slightly. Serve warm topped with fresh figs and vanilla ice cream or whipped cream, if desired.

And we won’t go until we got some,

and we won’t go until we got some,

and we won’t go until we got some, so bring some out here!


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