This traditional figgy pudding recipe is an old fashioned English dessert served at Christmas.
And my version was heavily inspired by the original celeb’ chef, Mrs Beeton.
This recipe was originally written in 2015 & has been updated today.
The inspiration behind this recipe
As a food writer and recipe creator, many people have asked me where I get my inspiration for the recipes I produce.
So, picture the scene if you will.
There I was one Thursday evening. Sat in front of the fire with SassyCat purring on my lap, reading Mrs Beeton’s ‘Cookery & Household Management’.
Some might consider it to be a bit of a dry read.
I personally couldn’t think of many things I’d rather be doing on a chilly Thursday evening. :)
Inspiration struck when I got to the chapter on steamed puddings. I realised that I’d never made a steamed pudding.
What makes this more surprising, is that my vintage kitchenware habit means that I have at least 5 pudding basins in my kitchen.
Anyway, buried in Mrs Beeton’s tome was a recipe for a traditional Figgy Pudding.
Other than in the lyrics of a Christmas carol, I’ve never heard of this dish.
The gauntlet was down.
Oh bring us a figgy pudding!
The Christmas carol in which I’ve heard of the figgy pudding is ‘We Wish You a Merry Christmas’.
I have fond memories of being in the girl guides. Groups of us would sing the carol on friendly people’s doorsteps in the run-up to Christmas around my nearby local village. Just for fun, I decided to look up the origins of the song.
Sadly, it would appear that very little is known about the song. And all I could glean was that it originates from England (possibly the west of England) and dates from the 16th century.
What is figgy pudding?
What is figgy pudding? Well, according to Mrs B, a figgy pudding is NOT the same as a Christmas pudding. Nor is figgy pudding the same as a ‘Plum Pudding’ (as per Christmas Pudding for reference).
Traditional figgy pudding is a traditional English pudding made with suet and dried figs (amongst other things).
Alas, the term ‘pudding’ becomes complicated, particularly for my American readers.
Not only does ‘pudding’ mean the same as ‘dessert’, but it also refers to a specific type of dessert. More specifically, a pudding that is made in a pudding basin and steamed in a pan of boiling water. Usually for several hours.
Suet in a pudding recipe?
In a lot of traditional English recipes, both sweet and savoury, you’ll see suet as an ingredient. Suet is a fat that is made from the ‘leaf lard’, or the fat surrounding the kidneys of cows and sheep.
In her recipe, the intrepid Mrs Beeton cuts her own suet from an animal carcass. I, however, took the lazy route and bought a packet of beef suet.
Feel free to use veggie suet if the thought of all this tradition is making you feel faint.
As my pudding cooked, it honestly didn’t smell all that tempting. It had the aroma of a roast dinner in the making, rather than a dessert.
But thankfully I couldn’t taste the suet in the finished pud.
How to Make Traditional Figgy Pudding
This traditional dish is not overtly sweet like a lot of today’s desserts. This means that a jug of custard or a drizzle of warmed golden syrup pairs with it nicely.
It’s a straightforward recipe as you will see from the step by step guide below.
1/ mix together the ingredients
The first part of the method is similar to making muffins.
You mix the dry and the wet ingredients separately, before stirring the wet ingredients into the dry mixture.
2/ pour into a pudding basin
Take a two pint pudding basin, and smear a little butter around the inside. I used the wrapper from a stick of butter.
Then pour in your batter.
Next, the basin is covered with greaseproof paper and tied with string.
I recommend folding a crease in the baking paper (see pics above) so that the pudding has room to rise. And I also recommend roping in a second pair of hands to tie the string too!
2/ how to steam the pudding
Place a saucer or small plate upside down in the bottom of a large saucepan. Fill the pan with about 3 inches of boiling water from the kettle.
Then carefully lower the pudding into the pan, to sit on top of the saucer.
Place on the saucepan lid and let steam for 2.5 hours. Check occasionally that the water isn’t boiling dry – ideally you want it to come half way up the basin.
3/ plate up the steamed pudding
When the time is up, carefully remove the basin from the pan.
I used oven gloves and placed the hot dish onto a tea towel on my counter top to protect it.
Cut away the pieces of string and remove the baking paper.
When I first tried to turn out the pudding, it wouldn’t budge. Even though I’d been very generous when greasing the dish!
So I ran a blunt knife around the inside of the basin to loosen the pudding.
This worked a treat.
Then turn the pudding out on to a pretty plate or cake stand, being sure to protect your hands from the steam.
And finally, decorate it however you like.
I used some freshly picked holly and trimmings from a fir tree here on the farm.
4/ what to serve with figgy pudding?
I would recommend serving your figgy steamed pudding with custard or double cream.
If you have a have a very sweet tooth, a drizzle of golden syrup would be delicious too.
If you give this recipe a go, do feel free to tag me in any photos you share on social!
It gives me such a buzz to see my recipe getting made all around the world! You can find me everywhere as @hedgecomber :)
- 110 g plain flour
- 110 g suet
- 110 g breadcrumbs
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 110 g sugar
- pinch salt
- pinch nutmeg ground
- 225 g dried figs chopped
- 2 eggs
- 210 ml milk
Grease a 2 pint pudding basin and one side of a piece of baking paper that measure at least 30cm (12 inches) square.
- Mix the flour, suet, breadcrumbs, baking powder, sugar, salt, nutmeg and figs together in a large mixing bowl.
- In a jug beat the eggs with the milk and stir into the mixture.
Pour the batter into the pudding basin and cover with the greaseproof paper.
Fold the paper down around the rim of the basin, and use a piece of string to tie it in place (this is much easier of you have help!)
Once the string is secure, cut off any excess paper and string.
To steam the pudding, you’ll need a saucepan with lid that is deeper than the height of the basin.
Place a saucer or small plate in the bottom of the saucepan, upside down.
Boil a kettle full of water and pour a couple of inches of water into the pan.
Carefully lower the pudding basin in to the pan, ensuring the basin sits on the upturned saucer.
Top up with more boiling water, until it reaches halfway up the pudding basin.
Put the lid on the saucepan and steam the pudding for 2.5 hours.
Check occasionally that the water hasn't reduced too much, and top it up as necessary.