Have you ever looked for a traditional figgy pudding recipe? Keep reading to get the insider scoop on a truly old fashioned recipe by the original celeb chef, Mrs Beeton.
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.
Well, as we fast approach the most festive season of the year, you could be forgiven for assuming that a traditional figgy pudding recipe might be high on my list of ‘essential recipes for creating at this time of year’ list.
Ummm…the thing is that I don’t actually have one of those lists! I probably should!
No, I generally read cookery books for fun. And by cookery books I mean I generally read a LOT of cookery books for fun!
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 (yes, I actually ‘read’ through the chapters!).
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.
And I’m pretty sure there are more in my prop cupboard. (This is the place where I stash treasures that I know will get used in food photos, one day).
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.
The first part of the method is similar to muffins.
You mix the dry and the wet ingredients separately before stirring the wet ingredients into the dry mixture.
This is then poured into a pudding basin.
The basin is covered with greaseproof paper and tied with string.
The pudding is then lowered gently into a pan of boiling water (with an upturned saucer in it to stop the basin sitting on the bottom of the pot) and it is steamed for 2.5 hours.
And whilst a steamed pudding takes a lot of effort compared to mixing a batch of muffins, it’s a fun tradition.
I will certainly be making it again. And it may even become a part of my festive favourite things to do.
Do let me know if you give it a go too!
If you try and love this recipe, another delicious pudding recipe that I’d recommend which has Welsh origins rather than English is the traditional Snowdon Pudding.
- 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.
- 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 into the pudding basin and cover with a piece of greaseproof paper that has been rubbed well with butter or other fat. Tie the paper around the rim of the basin with string.
- Lower carefully into a large pan that has an upturned saucer in the bottom to prevent the basin from sitting directly on the base of the saucepan, and have the boiling water in the pan come halfway up the sides of the basin.
- Pop on the lid and steam for 2.5 hours checking occasionally that the water hasn't evaporated.