So bring us some figgy pudding, and a cup of good cheer!
This line from We Wish You a Merry Christmas played over and over in my head this season ... to the point that I decided to make some figgy pudding. Never having eaten any and not even knowing what it is supposed to look like, it became a culinary mystery to solve.
First, it was important to discover that figgy pudding is not pudding. It's more like moist cake. My husband described it as "the middle of a fig newton with whipped cream on top". That's close, but I never had a fig newton cookie with rum-soaked raisins in it or a rum glaze. :) Second, the recipe instructed to cook it in a bowl in the oven, so mine was supposed to look like the much-prettier-than-mine one pictured above. Third, it is the dickens to serve. It fell apart when I cut it with a knife, but was too firm to dish up with a spoon. I'll have to solve that mystery before next year. And lastly, and most importantly, it is delicious! If it's that good using dried figs from California, I can't wait to use fresh figs from my brother-in-law's tree. (It will be several years before I can make figgy pudding using my own home grown figs as I just planted my tree this summer.)
Here's the recipe: Figgy Pudding
dried figs (10 - 12 ounces)
1 cup sugar
1 Tbsp orange-flower water
1 box carrot cake mix, oil & eggs as recommended
½ tsp cinnamon
½ tsp fresh grated nutmeg
½ cup sliced almonds
1/3 cup raisins, soaked in brandy
Grated peel of 1 orange
1 Tbsp marmalade (orange?)
¼ - ½ cup brandy or rum
Put the figs in a saucepan with enough hot water to cover, at least 2 cups. Bring to a boil. Remove from heat. Let sit until soft (a few hours).
Once soft, remove figs from the water and place in a bowl. Save the water, which will already be fragrant, and add 1 cup sugar. Bring to a boil and let reduce slightly. Remove from heat. Add 1 tablespoon, maybe more, of orange-flower water. Cool.
Chop figs. Chop them fine, but do not pulverize. Do this by hand.
Using a boxed cake mix for carrot cake, follow the directions, but instead of water, use the fragrant sugary water from the figs. (Save the remainder of this water.) Then add oil and eggs as recommended on the carrot cake mix. Add 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon and 1/4 teaspoon fresh-grated nutmeg. Mix in a food processor. At the end, toss in the fig pieces and beat in a bit. Turn into a bowl and add 1/2 cup sliced almonds and 1/3 cup raisins have been softened in brandy or rum. Add the grated peel of one orange and a big dollop (1 tablespoon) of marmalade.
Line a 4-quart metal bowl with foil. Use enough foil that you will have a big collar around the top of the bowl. Spray the foil with nonstick spray. Pour your cake batter into the foil-lined bowl. Set into preheated 350° oven for 30 minutes, then bring the collar gently over top of cake. Continue for another hour and half. Use a skewer to test (it will come out clean when pudding is done). It will take a while because it is dense.
Remove from oven and cool overnight.
Uncover and overturn onto a big serving platter. Carefully remove foil. The cake will be a mound, its size depending on the depth of your bowl.
Make a glaze by adding 1/4 - 1/2 cup of brandy or rum to the reserved fig-and-sugar syrup. Heat. Pour over it just before serving.
To serve, top with whipped cream or crème fraîche. (If your cake is less than perfect to the eye, you can instead quickly frost the cold cake with whipped cream, covering any imperfections, and serve the warm sauce on the side.)