It’s the age-old question—what is, when it comes down to it, figgy pudding?
You might guess it’s got figs in it, and seeing as one of the benefits of the Kentish weather is that we produce a veritable surfeit of figs each year, Jenny raised the possibility of making figgy pudding with the figs we had in the freezer. Oh, and maybe some plums, too.
Jenny had found an interpretation of a recipe (and a little bit of history)—a quick and easy figgy pudding that didn’t need to be started back in November (or even earlier). So on Christmas Eve I dug out a couple of pounds of figs and a good couple of handfuls of halved, stoned Victoria plums, and let them thaw.
Christmas morning, as the turkey was baking (more on that at a later date), I set about the recipe—with our own interpretation of it, of course, and translated into proper units.
The recipe given calls for dried figs and dates, and the addition of an equal volume of water. Seeing as fresh, frozen fruit is already quite wet, I guessed that I should drain rather add water. The fruit flesh, pressed down a bit, filled a 2-pint measuring jug, with about 6 fl oz of juice left over. This seemed close enough to the 2 cups (equivalent to 16 fl oz) of dried fruit plus water. I set the excess juice aside, and I’ll come back to it in a minute.
I boiled up the 2 pints of squishy fruit, and added a few chugs of dark Navy Rum. Because it’s Christmas, right? Then a teaspoon of baking soda and let it cool. The fruit was already pretty puréed by this point, and anyway, I like lumps of fruit in my desserts, so I didn’t bother with the food processor.
While the fruit was cooking up I’d beaten together 4 oz soft butter and 4 oz caster sugar, and then beaten in the 2 eggs.
We both agreed with the author at Piedmont that chocolate was just wrong, but unlike her we left it out. We did add cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice, though. The recipe called for what I thought was a shedload of flour, so I folded in just a pound of plain flour (=2 cups) treated with bicarb, baking powder and a pinch of salt, followed by the fruit purée. This was too wet for my liking, so I added the additional 4 oz and it seemed much better.
Some of the mix went into three individual ramekins, but the bulk into a Christmas pudding bowl (who has that many ramekins anyway?). Oven was at 170ºC fan, and the ramekins took 25 minutes to bake. The bigger pud took an extra 20 minutes or so, with the temperature turned down by 10º.
I reduced the excess fruity liquid as much as I dare, and then stirred in 8 oz dark brown sugar and a 300 ml pot of double cream. This is half what the recipe called for, but still seemed a lot. After dissolving the sugar and boiling for a few minutes, I stirred in 4 oz butter and poured it over the cut individual puddings.
To serve, I warmed some cognac up in a pan, poured a little over the puds, and then lit the rest and poured it burning for maximum oohs and aahs.
Well, we do like figgy pudding, at least like this, and will certainly be repeating the experiment next year.