Figgy pudding is a dessert that became “notorious” for being included in the lyrics to the English carol “We Wish You a Merry Christmas”. The reference to it has made people curious as to what a figgy pudding is.
A figgy pudding is actually described more as a cake than a pudding. Recipes for figgy pudding has been available as early as the 15th century. But it only became popular as a Christmas dessert during the 19th century. There are some limitations and difficulties with making figgy pudding that has made it hard for the wholesale expansion of the dessert. These difficulties include a long cooking time, the use of hard to find ingredients and a large reliance on saturated fats to achieve its characteristic texture.
A number of figgy pudding recipes have been circulating all over and this range from the traditional version that is steamed (which is actually similar to bread pudding) to versions that are covered with pastry and a mix of toppings like figs, fruits, dates and spices. All of the figgy pudding recipes have one thing in common though, it requires a cooking time – which is through the process of steaming – of about three to four hours. When cooking figgy pudding, the mixture must be placed inside a metal bowl and then placed inside a larger bowl that is almost halfway filled with boiling water. The heat that is transmitted from the boiling water to the inside bowl cooks the figgy pudding evenly but very slowly. The method is quite similar to a bain marie water bath.