What is Figgy Pudding?


Audrey Harris, Co editor-in-chief

We all know the classic Christmas carol “We wish you a merry Christmas” and its famous line “bring us some figgy pudding”, but do we actually know what figgy pudding is? When I think of someone bringing me figgy pudding, I think of someone walking up to me with a big bowl of thick pudding with an odd color, however, that’s not necessarily the case. The dessert is more of a firm pudding that is served like an upside-down cake and topped with holly and powdered sugar. The holly serves as symbolism to the crown of thorns put on Christ and the dish is set on fire to represent Christ’s passion. This dessert can also be referred to as “plum pudding” or “Christmas pudding”, but those interpretations are more commonly heard in the UK and Ireland. The term “Christmas Pudding” wasn’t used until 1845, when Eliza Acton noted the term in her book Modern Cookery for Private Families. 


This iconic holiday treat is a traditional English steamed cake-like dessert made of breadcrumbs, flour, suet, sugar, eggs, brandy, lemon zest, candied citrus peel, spices, and dried fruits (typically raisins). Figgy pudding dates all the way back to the 14th century, but it was a very different dish than the one we are familiar with today. The dish was more of a liquid, sticky, porridge-like consistency made of boiled figs, water, wine, ground almonds, raisins, and honey. Over the years, it evolved into incorporating ground meat and grains, and then to a steamed pudding with raisins. Figgy pudding was traditionally prepared several weeks before Christmas, for the brandy acts as a preservative and it also draws out more flavor from the other ingredients. 


Maybe this year you can wow everyone by showing up to your family dinner with a take on the iconic holiday dessert; The ingredients are fairly simple, although the process can be very time consuming. So, next time you listen to the classic Christmas carol “We wish you a merry Christmas”, you now know what exactly they are begging for to satisfy their cravings, and hey, you may even want to try some too.