As an extra added bonus attraction, wrap a small toy or coin (big enough so that it can't be accidentally swallowed) in foil and mix it into the batter before baking. Whoever finds it gets to make a wish. If you foresee sibling rivalry problems, you can bake a few surprises in the cake one for everybody.
500 g dried Calimyrna figs
1 3/4 cups milk
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup granulated sugar
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 1/2 cups fresh bread crumbs
1 tbsp finely grated orange zest, (orange part only)
1 1/2 cups icing sugar
1/2 cup butter, softened
2 tbsp brandy, (or fruit juice, if you prefer)
1 tsp vanilla
Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Grease a 2 quart (2 L) bundt pan or pudding mould. Find a deep roasting pan, into which the pudding pan will fit. OK, now you're ready to go.
With scissors, have your child cut the figs into small pieces (quarters or eighths, depending on the size of the figs). Dump them into a medium saucepan. Add the milk and bring to a boil over medium heat. Lower the heat and let simmer, stirring, for 10 minutes. The mixture will look disgusting and curdled. Don't panic, this is normal.
In a medium bowl, let your child stir together the flour, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. (Tradition demands that puddings should be stirred in a clockwise direction, for good luck - and you don't want to mess with tradition!) Set aside.
In another bowl, with an electric mixer, beat the eggs for about a minute, then add the melted butter, bread crumbs and grated orange rind. Stir in the fig mixture, and then add the flour mixture gradually, beating until blended. Pour into the greased mould, insert optional surprises and cover tightly with greased foil wrap.
Place the mould in a roasting pan, filled with 2 in. hot water. Bake 2 hours. Remove from pan, uncover and let cool on a rack for 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, make the hard sauce. With an electric mixer, beat together the icing sugar, butter, brandy (or juice) and vanilla until fluffy and smooth. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and keep at room temperature until you're ready to serve it.
Unmould the Figgy Pudding onto a serving plate, and serve warm, with large dollops of Brandied Hard Sauce. (If not serving immediately, let cool, then wrap tightly in foil. Reheat in the oven - 325°F (160°C) for 30 minutes before serving. Good as new.)
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