Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Figgy Pudding



From the kitchen of One Perfect Bite..."Now, bring us some figgy pudding and bring some out here". I'm sure you've heard this secular carol, but have you ever had the pudding the carolers demanded as a reward for their singing? Both the carol and the pudding have stories that are intertwined. In old England, groups of traveling singers would entertain the wealthy for food or pay. These groups were called "waits" and they were extremely popular at Christmastime. There was a Christian tradition of showering them with gifts to thank them for their music. "We Wish You A Merry Christmas" is one of the songs they used to regale their listeners and Christmas pudding is one of the foods used to reward them for their performance. The tradition and this carol were resurrected in Victorian England by carolers who included the song in their repertoire. The distribution of the pudding is even older than the carol and dates back to to 16th century. At that time, the Catholic Church decreed that it should be made on the Sunday before the beginning of Advent, also known as Stir-Up Day. The pudding traditionally would contain 13 ingredients to represent Christ and the 12 apostles. Every member of the family was expected to help stir the pudding , rotating from east to west to commemorate the path traveled by the Magi as they searched for the Christ child. As time went on, coins and other small treasure were buried in the batter and steamed with the pudding. These tokens were thought to bring luck to the person who found them. I've shared another version of Christmas pudding with you, as well as one for a Three Kings Cake that is intended especially for children. I wanted to try a new version this year and as soon as I read Dorie Greenspan's recipe I knew I found what I was looking for. It sounded delicious, though the amount of brandy and rum used in its preparation, make it a truly adult affair. There are lots recipes that soak fruit before adding it to the ingredient mix. The figs and raisins used here are truly soused. If quizzed, many folks express their dislike of fruitcake or Christmas puddings. I'm not a missionary and my intent is not to dissuade them, but I'd love to have them try this version before they completely rule out those desserts. This pudding is like a spice cake that is used to hold fruit and nuts in suspension. It is really lovely. I made two changes to the recipe that I have not noted below. I used a well greased pudding mold instead of a bundt pan to make our pudding. I also added a cup of toasted walnuts to the batter. I flamed the the figs and raisins as suggested by the recipe and I will flame the pudding at the table when I serve it on Christmas Day. I hope you'll give this a try. I think you'll love it. It is a perfect way to end an English-style Christmas dinner. Here's how it is made.

Figgy Pudding...from the kitchen of One Perfect Bite courtesy of Dorie Greenspan

Ingredients:
12 plump dried Calymyrna figs, snipped into small pieces
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup dark rum
1/3 cup cognac or brandy
1/2 cup raisins
1-1/3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1-1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon ginger
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon cloves
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 large eggs
1 (packed) cup brown sugar
2 cups fresh white bread crumbs (made from about 8 inches of baguette)
1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 cup dried cherries
1 cup dried cranberries
Optional: 1/3 cup brandy, cognac or rum, to flame the pudding
Lightly sweetened whipped cream, vanilla ice cream, or applesauce for serving

Directions:

1) Getting ready: You’ll need a tube pan with a capacity of 8 to 10 cups — a Bundt or Kugelhopf pan is perfect here — and a stock pot that can hold the pan. (If you’ve got a lobster pot, use that; it’ll be nice and roomy.) Put a double thickness of paper toweling in the bottom of the pot — it will keep the pudding from jiggling too much while it’s steaming. Spray the tube pan with cooking spray, then butter it generously, making sure to give the center tube a good coating
2) Put the figs and water in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and, keeping an eye on the pan, cook until the water is almost evaporated. Add the cognac or brandy, rum and raisins and bring the liquids back to a boil. Remove the pan from the heat, make sure it’s in an open space, have a pot cover at hand and, standing back, set the liquid aflame. Let the flames burn for 2 minutes, then extinguish them by sealing the pan with the pot cover. For a milder taste, burn the rum and brandy until the flames die out on their own. Set the pan aside uncovered.
3) Whisk together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves and salt and keep at hand.
4) Working in a mixing bowl with a whisk, beat the eggs and brown sugar together until well blended. Switch to a rubber spatula and stir in the bread crumbs, followed by the melted butter and the fig mixture (liquids included). Add the dry ingredients to the bowl and gently mix them in — you’ll have a thick batter. Fold in the cherries and cranberries.
5) Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and seal the pan tightly with aluminum foil. Set the pan into the stock pot and fill the pot with enough hot water to come one-half to two-thirds of the way up the sides of the baking pan. Bring the water to a boil, then cover the pot tightly with foil and the lid. Lower the heat so that the water simmers gently, and steam the pudding for 2 hours. (Check to make sure that the water level isn’t getting too low; fill with more water, if necessary.)
6) Carefully remove the foil sealing the pot — open the foil away from you to protect your arms and face — and then take off the foil covering the pan. To test that the pudding is done, stick a skewer or thin knife into the center of the pudding — the skewer or knife should come out dry.
7) To remove the pudding from the pan (a tricky operation), I find it easiest to carefully empty the water into the sink, and then carefully ease the baking pan out on its side. Transfer the pan to a cooling rack and let the pudding cool for 5 minutes. Detach the pudding from the sides of the pan using a kitchen knife, if necessary, then gently invert it onto the rack. Allow the pudding to cool for 30 minutes.
8) If you’d like to flame the pudding — nothing’s more dramatic — warm 1/3 cup of brandy, cognac or rum in a saucepan over medium heat. Pour the warm liquid over the top of the pudding, and then, taking every precaution that Smokey Bear would, set a match to the alcohol. When the flames die out, cut the pudding into generous pieces. Actually, there’s so much fruit in the pudding, the only way to cut neat slices is to make the slices generous. Serve the pudding warm with whipped cream, ice cream or apple sauce. Alternatively, you can cool the pudding completely, wrap it very well in several layers of plastic wrap and refrigerate it for up to two weeks. When you are ready to serve, butter the pan the pudding was cooked in, slip the pudding back into the pan, seal the pan with foil, and re-steam for 45 minutes. Yield: 8 to 10 servings.








Baby Jesus Birthday Cake















Christmas Pudding




46 comments:

Cloudia said...

and bring one right HERE!



Aloha from Honolulu
Comfort Spiral

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Pondside said...

There is truly nothing, for me, as good as a real, old-fashioned Christmas pudding after the turkey. I have my mum's recipe - cooked in an old coffee can in a water bath, the sauce made minutes before serving, so as to give everyone time to pause, chat and digest before dessert. This is one tradition that I'll never give up.

JasmyneTea said...

Wow, I never knew there was such history behind this dish! It's fascinating :) This year we're doing a steamed chocolate pudding, but I'm sure there's room for more dessert.

Les rêves d'une boulangère (Brittany) said...

Very traditional! You are so good to make this..I've never made one myself..I just opt to buy them. But yours look so lovely! Wish I had a homemade one on my Christmas table

Cheah said...

Wow, this is just great for dessert, looks so cute!

A Spoonful of Yumm said...

i love the writeup...the pudding looks fabulous ! hope you have a very merry christmas :-)

Kadhyaa said...

perfect and tempting puding

first time here and a nice space, do drop in at my place when time permits

Stephanie said...

I've never had (or even seen, I admit) figgy pudding. But I love figs, and brandy never hurt anyone. Looks really beautiful and festive. I enjoyed reading this one.

Pegasuslegend said...

I see festive written all over this gorgeous pudding! Merry Christmas my dear Mary!

Tina said...

I have always wanted to try this but was not quite sure what it was. I am glad you cleared it up for me-no I am more inspired to try it. Your pictures are very tempting. Thanks for sharing this lovely recipe-yum!

Platanos, Mangoes & Me! said...

So festive.

Wishing you a very Merry & happy Christams

Kim said...

I really enjoyed the story of this pudding... It really looks amazing!

Sue/the view from great island said...

I have always wondered about these cakes, my mother used to sing that song endlessly at Christmas! I would love to see it flaming at the table!!!

Tanna at The Brick Street Bungalow said...

Oh, what a beautiful flaming figgy pudding will be on your table!! I'll be the caroler standing on the front porch! ;) blessings ~ Tanna

Margaret Murphy Tripp said...

I never knew the story behind the pudding, that was very interesting. Your pudding looks festive and delicious and after reading the recipe, I seems like a "can't miss." I actually have a mold for this, but have never used it! Another inspirational post, thanks, and Merry Christmas to you and yours.

Red Nomad OZ said...

What a shame we only have this sort of thing at Xmas time - which this year downunder is going to be really hot!!!

That Girl said...

I always forget "pudding" means dessert in England. I always imagined something more custardy for "figgy pudding"

Valerie said...

I love hearing the history behind food! Your figgy pudding looks spectacular, I wish I could try a forkful through the screen. :D

Allison said...

I have to admit I fall in the group of people who are not fond of fruitcake. But I keep being nudged in the direction of trying it, so maybe I can fit it in before Christmas. And thank you for providing the history of the dessert. I didn't know it's Catholic roots.

Food, Fun and Life in the Charente said...

I watched this being made on TV the other night so I am already hooked. Have a great Christmas and a wonderful New Year. God bless Diane

Amelia's De-ssert said...

Hi Mary, your pudding looks delicious and lovely presentation. Merry Christmas to you and family. Have a nice day.

Ailyn said...

Hi Mary, this is my first time around and love it, will follow you for sure....thank you for visiting my blog!

Ailyn said...

Thanks for the recipe, love figs and this one looks great!

Dining Alone said...

Someone was just talking about figgy pudding and asking what the heck it was, well now I know.

Karen (Back Road Journal) said...

I one of the fruitcake lovers out here in blogland and I know that this cake has to be great. And the presentation will have a Wow factor for sure.

Hovkonditorn said...

This is so beautiful!

Shug said...

Oh....send one here too! The minute I read the title of your post, I knew it was a must read! Have always heard of figgy pudding, but never took the time to read about it!
thanks for the history and thanks for sharing the recipe....
Merry Christmas

Gwen Edwards said...

Now I know what figgy pudding is, thanks for the background. I am always learning something from your blog!

my cup of tea said...

What a beautiful treat for the holidays!
~Donna~

T.W. Barritt at Culinary Types said...

Now this looks quite MERRY! I have made one or two Christmas puddings in my day with good results - but I must say this looks magnificent! Have you cut the Yule Log and hired the wassailers yet?

Poornima Nair said...

Gorgeous Pudding Mary! Merry Christmas to you!

Priya said...

What a beautiful and fabulous pudding for the holidays..

Chiara said...

It really looks amazing Mary !have a good day, blessings...

Aldy @ Al Dente Gourmet said...

Dearest Mary, This Christmas Pudding sounds deliciously wonderful! I wish you a Merry- Merry Christmas- with lots of love and happy thoughts! All the best to you and your loved ones

HUGS <3

kitty said...

What a beautiful dessert for ending a Christmas meal, Mary. Thanks for the history on the figgy pudding. I know it will be spectacular when you light it up.

Jenn said...

I've never had figgy pudding, but was always curious about it. Thank you for the details behind it.. very interesting! And, now I want to actually try figgy pudding!!

Joanne said...

You know, I never even really considered the fact that figgy pudding could be a real thing...thanks for showing me the light!

Country Dreaming said...

I wasn't really sure about this. Very interesting!

Melinda

Jane said...

What a beautiful and perfectly delightful figgy pudding! I don't think it could have turned out nicer. Fantastic job!

Gloria said...

This look perfect and lovely Mary:)))

Kalinka la chtimie said...

magnifique very beautiful !

Chris and Amy said...

Kudos to you for making one of the most traditional of all holiday desserts. PS bring one right here! Happy Holidays from A Couple in the Kitchen

Erika Beth, the Messy Chef said...

I just had my friend's figgy pudding last weekend but I forgot to put the brandy butter on it. It was NOT good. I wish I could like it but I am disturbed by that one bite. :(
Thanks for stopping by my site!
Have a good Chritmas etc.

My Little Space said...

Mary, I'm loving this X'mas pudding. It sounded & look stunning too. Bookmarked it.
Kristy

Patsy said...

I'm sorry I didn't see this before Christmas...but look out next year! ;) Patsy

Coco Pistachio said...

Yummm!!!! I love pudding and this looks amazing!
I'm going to get this done ASAP! Thanks for sharing :)

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