“Oh, bring us some figgy pudding! We won’t go until we get some!”
In the U.S., you could wait a long time for this Christmas dish.
If anyone recalls Christmas carols these days, the one they usually remember is “We Wish You a Merry Christmas,” which is pretty easy until the second verse.
At that point, the song mysteriously demands figgy pudding — and right now. In the U.S., that demand may be kind of like the lyrics to Louie Louie: no one knows what they mean.
Figgy pudding, or Christmas pudding, is a tradition that didn’t cross the Atlantic. It remains an English Christmas dessert, primarily made by fancy bakers and purchased at Christmas for enjoyment all year long.
At one time, the making of The Pud was as laden with tradition as the pudding itself. It took a month to get the ingredients settled into the cake-like mound. Moms mixed it up on the Sunday before Advent, when the Church of England proclaimed: Stir Up Our Hearts, Oh Lord! Brits, who make everything into a tradition, called this Stir Up Sunday.
Recently, an informal survey of Brits on Facebook showed that none had ever heard of Stir Up Sunday. Though one person did point out that his grandma used to put silver coins in the Christmas Pudding mix and if you found one, you got a reward. He didn’t realize it, but that actually is part of the tradition of Stir Up Sunday.
Nonetheless, the Christmas pudding has survived and people do compete to buy (not bake) the best ones from the best outlets.
These puddings are very dark, thick, cake-like creations filled with dried fruit (usually raisins) and held together with suet. It is much like the American fruit cake. Typically, it is molded into a mound and served with brandy that should be set afire at the table.
The key to the Christmas pudding is that it must be steamed for hours then allowed to age a month in a cool, dark place. Once it is sufficiently seasoned, it can be steamed for serving and enjoyed year round, if there are leftovers.
For the recipe, look at several examples online to find your best mix of tradition and ease.
First, a traditional recipe that can be used with an InstaPot: melissaknorris.com/traditional-christmas-pudding-recipe/.
Next, the BBC, which even features a video about steaming the pud: bbc.co.uk/food/recipes/christmas_pudding_41498