Newfoundland Figgy Duff. It has nothing to do with figs; raisins were once referred to as figs here & are always added to this traditional steamed pudding.
First for those of you reading without benefit of Newfoundland experience, Newfoundland Figgy Duff has nothing to do with figs, dried fresh or otherwise. Raisins are historically referred to as figs in many parts of the province.
This recipe is of course a close cousin to the Blueberry Duff, which is still made throughout the year using frozen blueberries but is especially good at the beginning of the summer blueberry season.
A recent email request and this mornings brunch prompted me to add my standard recipe for Figgy Duff. A young lady from the southern US who is married to a Newfoundlander asked for assistance in preparing this dish. I was reluctant to answer with a definitive recipe because I don’t believe that one actually exists.
I have encountered many variations of what people call Figgy Duff here in Newfoundland. Family history and local variations of the recipe account for many differences in both opinion and experience of what Figgy Duff actually is. It is a close cousin to the traditional English Spotted Dick where, I suspect, a part of our English and Irish heritage has survived over the centuries in this dish.
This is a slight variation on my grandmother, Belinda Morgan’s recipe, where I remember having it at many a Sunday dinner in her Port-de-Grave kitchen. A similar recipe with the addition of molasses and spices I have heard referred to as Labrador Duff. Other recipe variations I have seen include breadcrumbs, orange zest or currants but I have never attempted any of those.
To debate what is a proper Figgy Duff is to engage in the silliest of arguments. It is futile to argue the virtues of one over the other because it is impossible to overcome the power of the inextricably entwined memories that people associate with such things. It is much more interesting to me to explore and appreciate the differences than to debate them. There is no right and wrong here, just differences of experience.
One of my indulgences is to pan fry thick slices of the leftovers in butter for brunch the next day and serve it with molasses. (Time to put a cardiologist on retainer!) A couple of British friends tell me that this is commonly done with the leftover Christmas pudding back in the UK as well. Throw a couple of slices of the leftover Christmas ham into the pan with it and you are definitely good until supper. 😉
Looking for other traditional or Newfoundland inspired recipes?
Browse through the photos in our Newfoundland Recipes Category for everything from Molasses Raisin Bread to Fish Cakes.
And if you’re looking for recipes that feature the best of the ocean, both traditional and non-traditional, be sure to browse through out many Fish and Seafood Recipes.
You may also like this recipe for Newfoundland Fish Cakes:
- 2 cups flour
- ½ cup sugar
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1/3 cup melted butter
- ¾ cup milk
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 cup raisins
Sift together the flour sugar and baking powder.
Add the raisins and toss well.
Add the milk, melted butter and vanilla.
Mix all together with a wooden spoon just until a soft dough is formed. Put dough into a pudding steamer or a wet heavy cotton pudding bag, tying the bag with a piece of butcher string but leaving about an inch of slack at the top to allow the pudding to expand. Boil for approximately 1 1/2 hours. This is most often done in the pot with the boiled root vegetables, cabbage and salt beef included in a Jiggs Dinner but can be done in a pot on its own as well.
Note: you can substitute the sugar for ½ cup molasses and adjust the milk accordingly to form the proper consistency of the dough. Spices like 1 tsp cinnamon and ½ tsp allspice can also be added as variations
Traditionally served with a roast dinner or Jiggs Dinner but also served as a dessert with a rum butter sauce.
For those who have been asking, there is an alternative to the pudding bag. You can get a pudding steamer here on Amazon:
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