Figgy Pudding

NORMALLY I’D SHY AWAY from a recipe that boasts 18 ingredients.ย  But when it comes to Dorie Greenspan’s Figgy Pudding, I make an exception. How I love this spicy, fruity, boozy dessert!ย  One bite, and you’ll understand why 19th century carolers proclaimed “We won’t go until we get some.”

Here’s the step-by-step recipe, followed by a printer-friendly, copy-and-paste version:

To start, dice up a dozen dried figs.

Put the figs and one 1/2 cup of water in a green sauce pot. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat, and simmer, uncovered, until most of the water has evaporated — about 5 minutes.

Off heat, add a big handful of raisins to the figs (I used gold raisins).

Add some cognac…

And some dark Jamaican rum.

Bring the works to a boil, and then immediately remove from the heat.

And then…

Ignite it, baby.

Let flame for 2 minutes. Then extinguish the flames by covering the pot.

And don’t worry — you won’t cause an explosion. The flames will rise only an inch or so above the liqueurs.

Meanwhile, in a medium-size bowl, whisk together some flour and baking powder.

Also whisk in some ground spices — cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves and salt.

Yes, I realize salt is not a spice. It’s a mineral. Please forgive me.

Are you still with me? Put 3 eggs in a large mixing bowl…

Add some brown sugar…

And beatย  with a wire whisk until thoroughly combined.

At this point, trade your wire whisk for a rubber spatula, and use it to incorporate each of the following:

Some fresh white bread crumbs…

Some melted butter…

The cooked figs and raisins, and all of their luscious liquid…

And the dry ingredients.

Finally, fold in some dried cherries and cranberries.

Scoop the batter into a well-buttered tube-pan; cover the pan tightly with aluminum foil.

Now grab a blue and white kitchen towel, and place it in the bottom of a stock pot. The towel will keep the pudding from bouncing around as it steams.

Set the tube pan in the stock pot, and add enough hot water to reach two-thirds up the sides of the pan.

Tightly cover the stock pot with aluminum foil, and put the lid on.

Bring to a boil, then reduce heat, and let the pudding steam quietly for 2 hours.

No picture of this next step, because it’s a two-handed affair: When the pudding is done, bring the stock pot to the sink, and tip out most of the water. This will cause the tube pan to shift, so you can easily retrieve it.

Remove the foil from the tube pan, and let the pudding cool on a wire rack for 5 minutes.

Then set the rack atop the pan, invert the two, and voila! — you’ve got Figgy Pudding!

Ahead of time note: You can make this pudding well in advance. When completely cool, wrap it in several layers of cling wrap. To reheat, remove the plastic wrapping, return the pudding to the tube pan in which it was originally baked, and and steam it in the stockpot for 45 minutes.

To serve, transfer the pudding to the tacky festive cake-stand you found at the local odd-lot store…

Give it a dusting of confectioners’ sugar…

Then run outside to your snow-covered holly shrub, and clip a few sprigs.

Arrange the sprigs ’round the platter.

Then take pictures of the pudding in front of your Christmas tree.

Now, I would dearly love to serve you a slice of this moist and fragrant deliciousness. But I can’t. You see, I have to save it for a dinner party I’m hosting on Saturday night. For the grand finale, I’ll pour some warmed cognac over the dessert, and flame it at the table. Because that’s what any sensible drama-queen would do.

And here’s a printer-friendly version of the above recipe:

Figgy Pudding
Adapted from a recipe by Dorie Greenspan
12 large, dried figs, finely diced
1 cup dried cranberries
1 cup dried cherries
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup dark rum
1/3 cup cognac or brandy (plus more, for flaming)
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 cup brown sugar, packed
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon ginger
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon cloves
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 large eggs
2 cups fresh white bread crumbs
1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter, melted
Extra butter for greasing the tube pan

Special Equipment โ€“ a non-stick tube pan that holds at least 8 cups; a stockpot, wide enough to hold the tube pan; a kitchen towel, which will act as a cushion between stockpot and tube pan; a saucepan that holds at least 6 cups; a wire whisk.

Butter the tube pan extremely well.

1. Put the chopped figs and 1/2 cup of water in the saucepan; bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, for about 5 minutes, or until much of the water has evaporated.

2. Add the cognac, the rum, and the raisins to the figs. Bring to a boil, then immediately remove from heat. Ignite the liquid with a match, and let it flame for 2 minutes. Then extinguish the flames by covering the pot.

3. Using either a whisk or a food processor, blend together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves and salt; set aside.

4. By hand or with the help of an electric mixer, beat the eggs and brown sugar until they are thoroughly blended. Then use a rubber spatula to incorporate first the bread crumbs, then the melted butter, then the fig mixture and all of its liquid, then the dry ingredients from step 3. Finally, fold in the cherries and cranberries.

5. Scrape the batter into the tube pan, and seal the pan tightly with aluminum foil. Place a folded kitchen towel in the bottom of the stockpot, and lower the tube pan onto the towel. Fill the pot with enough hot water to come 1/2 to 2/3 up the sides of the tube pan. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Tightly seal the top of the stockpot with both aluminum foil and a lid. Let the pudding steam gently for 2 hours.

6. Remove lid and foil from the stockpot, and bring the pot to the kitchen sink. Tilt the pot to pour off most of the water; tilting will cause the tube pan to sit upright along the long side of the stockpot, thus making it easy to retrieve. Set the pudding on a wire rack, remove its foil seal, and let cool for 5 minutes.

7. Run a plastic knife between pudding and tube pan. To unmold, place the wire rack over the tube pan and invert the two. Let cool at least 30 minutes before serving.

8. To flame the pudding, gently heat (do not boil) 1/3 cup of cognac in a saucepan. Pour the liqueur over the pudding, then ignite with a match. The flames will die out within seconds.

My taste-tester and I enjoyed this pudding with no accompaniment whatsoever. You, however, might like to serve it with whipped cream or ice cream.

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Related Christmas-time Posts:
Dreamy Cinnamon Rolls
Mantel Magic!
How to Make a Boxwood Tree


  1. Oh yum! Please tell me you plan to serve this with fresh whipped cream?? ::::Swoon::::

  2. I like the idea of an angel sprouting his or her wings just because I post a comment. Here it is…thanks so much for your thoughtfulness in sharing recipe’s early…each and every one of them are to write home about!

  3. I always wondered what figgy pudding was. Now I know. Seems really complicated but I may yet try it out. Wish me luck!

  4. HI KEVIN…..WOW!! How beautiful and I bet it tastes wonderful……don’t know if I will attempt this one…will see!! Stay safe…getting alot of snow here!!!

  5. Trish Stover says:

    I can taste it now. a must make for Christmas dinner.

  6. Nothing soothes my soul like reading one of your recipe soliloquies, Kevin! And thank you for the ear worm of the day – We Wish You A Merry Christmas!

  7. Glad to have you around.

  8. Carol Samsel says:

    This does sound sinfully good and definitely something to impress a crowd. Now off to the old lot store to find that special server ๐Ÿ™‚

  9. Oh, this sounds yummy! It’s very much like the cranberry steamed pudding I make at Christmastime from my Great Aunt Edith. Her recipe contains no spirits though.

  10. Looks fantastic! And your running narrative is so much fun to read. Have a fabulous party…I’m sure it will be a roaring success!

  11. Okay, you sent it early, but I’m not reading it until Sunday evening.

  12. I just pinned this… its lovely and can’t wait to make my first figgy pudding. You inspire me! Thanks for having such a great blog. I am a ful ltime caregiver for a family member with dementia and your blog helps me escape that tough reality. Keep the beauty and the wonderful recipes coming! Have a most joyous holiday season.

  13. Denise in Colorado says:

    Wow! Sounds delicious! Thanks for the Friday the 13th posting! If it snows there Saturday at least you and your guests will have a yummy dessert to eat and stay warm by the fireplace! Enjoy your cold and snowy weekend! ๐Ÿ™‚

  14. it sounds so tempting… I may not resist to try it!

  15. Hi Kevin!
    Good luck hosting your dinner party with the incoming storm!! But then you have candles and plenty of fireplaces; how romantic! Keep warm!! I am going to make your Cognac cookies this weekend!!

  16. “Because that’s what any sensible drama queen would do”
    Kevin, with every post you crack me up!
    Thank you for the amazing insights and your unabashed quirkiness!

  17. Beverly, zone 6, eastern PA says:

    How enticing! Thanks for giving us a task for a snowy Saturday.

    Hope your snow shovels are standing by – we’ve had three storms this week already and I am weary of clearing paths so the dog can stay in her “routines”, but I am glad to have snow cover on the perennials with 9 degrees overnight last night.

    Bon Appetit! Figgy Pudding to the rescue.

  18. Yum,yum,yum, now, since we are getting the same storm you are, I’m glad I have all the ingredients in my pantry! I enjoyed seeing your holly bush. I’m missing seeing your garden lately, so I’ll try to send you a pix from mine. I love my garden at Christmas time!

    Nope can’t add a photo of my Harvey Lauder walking stick shrub who is freshly pruned and draped with LED multi colored retro lights which makes him the quirkiest patriarch of the garden! He is one twisted tree!

    Merry Christmas…..

  19. This looks sinfully delicious, with Cognac, it’s ho ho ho!!!!
    Great recipe.
    I so hope you don’t lose power but you’re probably the only one in the entire state of New York who can host a fabulous party during a storm.
    Thank you for thinking of your reader and sending your newsletter early, we would all have been worried about you.
    Be safe, stay warm.

  20. Michele Reeves says:

    You are killing me here! Fabulous as always! I know your party will be fabulous!

  21. Sending wings … and Merry Holidays!

  22. I helped my Mother make this at Christmas she always served it with a lemon or hard sauce.

  23. Well, as an English person I have a hard time with this recipe. It will no doubt taste delicious, but I can’t imagine that the carolers lauding the original figgy pudding tasted any cranberries, a fruit I had never seen until I moved to the United States. Further, a tube pan was also unknown to me until that move was made. I may try this recipe at some point as it looks so good, but it will not become part of my Christmas celebration where Christmas Pudding holds pride of place as dessert.

  24. beagle doesnt like figgy pudding?

  25. @Ann – my sentiments exactly but to be fair to Kevin, it DOES sound worth a try at some point:)
    Can’t wait for my Christmas pud (made in a pudding bowl) w/fresh cream and brandy butter, mmmmmmmmmm

  26. Addie B in FL says:

    Ok, but I have to say that I lived in England for nearly 17 years and this is not the traditional Christmas pudding there as I knew it. My recipe was given to me by a very dear and very old English friend, to whom the recipe was given by an even older aunt. So, it’s well over a hundred years old. I would be happy to share it if you like, since it’s far easier (apart from the fact that it has to be steamed for eight hours), but it keeps for two or three years so,you can make several at one time. A few of the ingredients (like shredded suet, which can be either vegetarian or not) might have to be ordered on line, but the resulting pudding is amazing! It is served with either (or both) brandy butter or brandy sauce ( I have recipes for both). Let me know if you want me to share.

    Best regards and Christmas wishes!

  27. Sara in Indiana says:

    Thanks soooooo very very much, Kevin, for your wit and wisdom every week–always makes me smile and laugh. Merry Christmas!!

  28. Lovely, just lovely. Stay warm And safe.

  29. Born and raised in England (many years ago), this is not a dtraditional Figgy pudding. But, hey, traditions can be tweaked and this one sounds as if it would still be delicious. However, I’m enjoying some pretty warm weather here in Florida right now, so Figgy Pudding doesn’t sound too appealing. Maybe when it cools down a few degrees. I know, I know ….. all of you up north just hate us Floridians at the moment!

  30. How about some hard sauce with it?

  31. Hi, Kevin,
    I really appreciate the steaming instructions. Mom used to use coffee cans (various sizes, lined with buttered brown paper and sealed with flour paste) when making her plum pudding. The cans then were steamed in a water bath inside a large roasting pan. She could steam 4-to-6 at a time, and usually made several batches for family & friends. Even this was easier than steaming a pudding in cheesecloth over a kettle on an outdoor fire, as her own mother did when Mom was growing up in Jamaica. The family recipe has an even larger ingredient count, due to many more dried & candied fruits & nuts, which were soaked in port or other red wine for several weeks before making the pudding. Mom used butter instead of lard, though. And yes, a brandy or rum finishing sauce is highly recommended!

  32. Hi Kevin
    Looks like a great recipe! I have a Gagganeau steam oven and would like to try this. Any ideas of settings for cooking one figgy pudding? Also would be fun to see some of the old tried and true recipes from your readers.

    Love your blog and have now changed the way I do Chestnuts!!!! Your way is so much easier.

  33. Addie B in FL – Yes — I’d love to see your heirloom pudding recipe. When you are ready to send, just click this link: Contact Kevin.

    Hi Barb – I’m not familiar with steam ovens. Hopefully another reader will have an answer for you.

  34. I have fresh figs from my tree that I picked and froze. I made Figgy Jam and with the rest I want to make Figgy Pudding. Your recipe came just in time. I had another recipe picked out, but I like this Rum and Cognac version better. I have to make it gluten free so I am going to substitute the flour for a gluten free flour. I hope it turns out !! Wish me luck and any pointers!

  35. Hi Gladys – If you make a GF version of this recipe, please let me know how it turns out for you. Maybe try Williams-Sonoma’s “Cup4Cup” flour — it’s supposed to be very close to plain, or “all-purpose” flour.

  36. Doris Doody says:

    HELP! Can I make this on 12/5 and freeze it? Will it be as good? Please REPLY!

    I actually printed the 27 pages, using up all my colored ink ’cause the pictures were so gorgeous. Had I known, I could have only run 17 pages, the last 10 pages were only comments. I should have looked ‘before I leaped in my excitement’! Thereby getting the full recipe on Pages 16 and 17….this might be a suggestion you could make on your next posting for us who are ‘electronicly challenged. THANK YOU for a SUPER, INSPIRING recipe. I’m going to try it! (and I am enthused for my future projects as I am 85!!!! Cannot believe I’m so inspired…I had better succeed in this endeavor!

  37. Hi Doris – You can make this well in advance. As mentioned above, just wrap the cooled pudding in plastic “cling” film, and refrigerate. Then, on serving-day, return the pudding to the tube pan, and re-steam for 45 minutes. So glad you feel inspired to make this dish — I’m sure you’ll have terrific success!

  38. Leanne in Tennessee says:

    How thoughtful of you to be thinking of us (your faithful readers) while facing a snow storm! Like others, I always wondered what figgy pudding looked like and thanks you – now we know! I love the step by step pictures. Stay warm and comfortable as best you can this weekend!

  39. Thanks Kevin- I forwarded this to my brother in Hawaii and he is in heaven. He has been looking for a real figgy pudding recipe for a very long time to put the finish on his annual Christmas ‘gastrogoria’. The holly will be a bit of a problem, but a tasteful mix of palm fronds and hibiscus will probably stand in beautifully.

  40. It looks wonderful. I’m gluten free tho and wonder if it would work with gf flour. Have you heard of anyone making it that way?

  41. badger gardener says:

    a poem I wanted to share today…

    by Dick Allen
    Conneticut poet laureate
    December, 2012

    There are the fields we’ll walk across
    In the snow lightly falling.
    In the snow lightly falling
    There are the fields we’ll walk across

    There are the houses we’ll walk toward
    In the snow lightly falling.
    In the snow lightly falling
    There are the houses we’ll walk toward.

    There are the faces we once kissed
    In the snow lightly falling.
    In the snow lightly falling
    There are the faces we once kissed.

    Incredible how we laughed and cried
    In the snow lightly falling.
    In the snow lightly falling
    Incredible how we laughed and cried.

    Incredible how we’ll meet again
    In the snow lightly falling.
    In the snow lightly falling
    Incredible how we’ll meet again.

    No small hand will go unheld
    In the snow lightly falling.
    In the snow lightly falling
    No small hand will go unheld.

    No voice once heard is ever lost
    In the snow lightly falling.
    In the snow lightly falling
    No voice once heard is ever lost.

  42. Susan in S.W.Mass. says:

    I think Hard Sauce instead of Whipped or Ice cream. Yum! Thanks Kevin.

  43. My dad will love this! He lives with us now and this is right up his alley!
    Wonder what the 19th century cooks used instead of foil and plastic wrap?

  44. I don’t have a green sauce pot. I hope the recipe works in my red one. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  45. My family has been making one for years. They make it before Thanksgiving. Wrap well in cheesecloth, then spritz everyday with alcohol until Christmas. We serve with a warm brandy sauce after flaming and, of course, singing “we wish you a Merry Christmas”.

  46. A VERY HAPPY CHRISTMAS AND PROSPEROUS NEW YEAR. Your Figgy pudding seems a bit like our English plum pudding,i don’t know if you are familiar with it, but i think your American friends would enjoy it.This pudding is better cooked in a slow cooker on low for 18hrs the pudding is very Boozy and will keep 2yrs or more,if well wrapped in film and foil.i sit for hours reading all your different ideas,i have got my milk cartons ready to do Winter sewing,i hope they will take as well as yours keep sending your pictures ideas many thanks yvonne

  47. I had the distinguished honor of eating this very Figgy Pudding as slaved over by our illustrious host, Kevin, Saturday eveing. It was the end to an altogether perfect dinner in the most beautiful of homes! Lucky me!!! And, as evidenced in the garden photo, we had the beautiful holiday snow to boot. Lily the lovely beagle sat at my side for most of the evening. I cannot wait for my next invitation. Matthew Malin

  48. Made a figgy pudding this weekend and will re-steam on Christmas. Smelled soooooo yummy when it came out. Also made 12 dozen gingerbread men. My house now smells totally delicious. Just one more reason to stay in and not venture out into the 8″ of snow, with another 4″ coming tomorrow.

  49. OK! I’m gathering together all the ingredients and will toss the bag in the back of the car with the suitcases and the three cats (!) 400 miles later, in the green forests of Oregon the fragrance of your figgy pudding will draw in the neighbors for a cozy tea time. Thank you for this early present, good luck weathering the storm, keep your feet dry!

  50. Laurie Jimenez says:

    I can smell that here in Muskogee, Oklahomey!!! I purchased an English Pudding Steamer several years ago and haven’t used it yet. This will be the recipe I will use this Christmas. I just hope I don’t st anyone on fire. Thanks for this posting!

  51. Thank you Kevin! This looks wonderful! As an ex-pat Brit I am definitely giving this one a try! Feeling a tad homesick this yr for some reason so am tackling a British Christmas Cake too – I think it has even more ingredients than the pudding!

    Finish it off with marzipan and royal icing and wallah – not your American type fruit cake lol!

    ps It’s also laden with dried mixed fruit soaked in brandy for several days and when the cake is ready you ‘feed’ it more brandy! It gets even better with age I should’ve made it in Sept. but am always the procrastinator!

  52. Kevin, I always love everything you show with the pictures incorporated. However, something has changed (I think Pin It was added) to each picture. When I copy your recipes, the pictures are no longer pasting for my further reference. It is so much easier to follow along with the pictures

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