Figgy Pudding is not pudding. At least if you are an American baker it is not pudding. It is a very moist cake that needs toasted walnuts and a spice boost. Of course you must take into account that I am southern through and through despite my Yankee accent. What does a southerner know about English desserts? Nothing! But we do know all about flavor and delicious desserts. With that in mind, I repeat, “this dessert needs toasted walnuts and a spice boost.”
My first bake of Figgy Pudding left my taste buds bored. The basic concept is great. It is a moist, not overly sweet cake, with a great, hard to place flavor profile. The figs add sweetness and a subtle flavor to the cake but the whole affair was rather bland. My nutmeg spiced whipped cream help but the cake was simply lacking taste. Each bite screamed for toasted nuts and amped up flavor.
My second bake of figgy pudding included toasted walnuts and double the spices. I could hardly believe the difference. It went from a ho hum dessert that did not deserve a song to a dessert worth singing about.
Now bring us some figgy pudding! Now bring us some figgy pudding! Now bring us some figgy pudding and bring some out here.
For we all like southern figgy pudding… For we all like southern figgy pudding…
Figgy Pudding Southern Style
1½ cups water
¾ pound (12 ounces) dried figs, stems removed, cut into small bits
3 tablespoons orange liqueur
1½ cups toasted walnuts, coarsely chopped
1½ cups flour
1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
2¼ teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon nutmeg
½ teaspoon salt
3 large eggs
⅔ cup granulated sugar
⅓ cup packed light brown sugar
½ cup unsalted butter, melted
1½ cups fresh bread crumbs (white or whole wheat)
Preheat oven to 350°. Generously butter an 8-10 cup tube or Bundt pan. Set aside.
Place the chopped figs and water in a small saucepan and gently simmer for 20-25 minutes, or until the figs are very tender. Remove from the heat but do not drain. Stir in the orange liqueur. Let cool for at least 30 minutes.
To toast walnuts spread them in a single layer on a baking sheet. Place them in the oven for 7-10 minutes or until the nuts are slightly darkened. Remove the pan from the oven and let the nuts cool to room temperature.
Sift flour, cocoa, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and salt into a medium sized bowl. Set aside.
With an electric mixer beat together the eggs and granulated and brown sugars until well combined. Beat in the melted butter and bread crumbs. Stir in the cooled figs and soaking liquid. Fold in the flour mixture.
Spoon the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top with a rubber spatula. Cover the top of the pan with a double thickness of foil and then place a heavy pot lid on top of the pan. The heavy lid of a Dutch oven is perfect.
Place the cake pan in a roasting pan and pour hot water to come hallway up the sides of the pan. Bake for 2 hours or until the cake… er… I mean pudding is firm and starts to pull away from the sides of the pan.
Remove the cake from the roasting pan and cool on a wire rack for 5 minutes. Run a spatula around the sides and center tube. Invert the pan onto a cake plate. Figgy Pudding is best served warm with a generous dollop of sweetened whipped cream. I add a dash of nutmeg to my cream Yum!