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Friday, January 2, 2015

Fig and Squash Cakes--"Figgy Pudding" Adaptation





Since today is only day 9 of this year's Twelve Days of Christmas, it's not too late to think about making some "figgy pudding" for those late cookie trays or mid-winter snacking.

Yes, I know; figgy pudding should be steamed, but the original takes a lot of time and equipment to pull off. This adaptation still provides a really moist, and pretty figgy, dessert that is tasty and attractive enough to put on a dessert tray without any added frosting or topping. It is actually relatively healthy to boot, so why not try this today?

If you really want more of a topping, figgy pudding is traditionally served with Hard Sauce, much like a very buttery  powdered sugar icing, with any of a variety of flavorings. This pudding would go well with orange or lemon, though some would use rum or brandy for the liquid. A basic Hard Sauce follows the cake recipe below.

The recipe uses a food processor for ease of mixing. If you don't have a processor, some adjustments to the method follow.





Figgy Pudding, American Style

1 1/3 c cooked butternut squash
1/3 c water
1 c coarsely chopped figs
1 2/3 c flour
1 1/3 c sugar
1/4 t baking powder
1 t soda
1 t cinnamon
1/4 t cloves
1 t ginger
1/2 c butter, softened 
1 egg
walnuts

1.  Combine the squash, water, and figs in the processor or blender and process until quite smooth. (If you don't have either a blender or processor, mash the squash and water together until smooth and chop the figs as finely as possible. Mix together and proceed to step 2.)
2.  Replace the chopping blade with the plastic blade and combine all the ingredients except the walnuts. Pulse until the ingredients are completely mixed, scraping down the sides once or twice.
3.  Oil mini-muffin pans well (this is where a spray coating like Pam is ideal) and fill each about half full. Top each one with a large walnut piece and bake at 350 degrees for about 12 to 15 minutes. If you don't have enough muffin tins, you can fill the ones you have and allow the remaining batter to sit at room temperature while the first batch is baking. This recipe makes about 5 dozen little "puddings.

Method using a blender:
1.  Pulse the squash, water, and figs in the blender until smooth.
2.  Add the butter and egg and pulse just until the mixture is well blended.
3.  Combine the dry ingredients in a large bowl, and pour the squash mixture over the top. Stir just until the batter is smooth and proceed to step 3.

Method without either a processor or blender:

1.  Mash the squash and water thoroughly. Chop the figs as finely as possible and stir into the squash. Then proceed as with the method for the blender.

Variations:
Stir about 3/4 c chopped walnuts into the batter rather than placing them on top.

Use full-sized muffin tins rather than mini-muffins and top with a caramel frosting after baking.

Hard Sauce

1/3 c softened butter
1 to 1 1/2 c powdered sugar
flavoring--see below for amounts

1,  Beat the butter until very creamy and add about half a cup of the powdered sugar and your shoice of flavoring.
2.  Gradually beat in the remaining powdered sugar to reach the desired consistency. Excellent when warmed slightly and drizzled over the tops of the little cakes.

Flavoring options

Choose one of the following
  • 1 to 2 t vanilla or almond extract
  • 2 T orange or lemon juice
  • 2 T rum or brandy
  • For a spiced version, beat in about 1 t cinnamon and/or 1/2 t nutmeg or ginger and add a bit of cream as needed for desired consistency. 

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