Saturday, January 31, 2009

Ripe figs for baking

While shopping for vegetables at the market on Friday I spotted a few pints of over-ripe figs sitting by the shop's cash register. I picked one up and the proprietor was kind enough to throw them in with the rest of my order free of charge.

I figured that though the soft, wrinkled fruit wasn't pretty enough for poaching or baking as is, it'd be just fine chopped up in a recipe. I settled on Donna Hay's Caramel Fig Loaf, from her Off The Shelf cookbook. Though Ms. Hay's recipe called for dried figs, I thought my ripe ones would work just as well. Not having any corn syrup on hand, I substituted buckwheat honey, though you could use the corn syrup she calls for, or simply regular honey.

Caramel Fig Loaf

125g (4 oz) butter (or slightly more than 1/2 cup)
1/2 cup demerara sugar
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 cup buckwheat honey
250g (8 oz) overly ripe figs, sliced

Preheat oven to 325F. Grease a 8" x 4" loaf pan.

Place the butter and sugar in a bowl and beat with an electric mixer until light and creamy. Add the eggs and beat well.

Mix together flour, baking powder and cinnamon. With a wooden spoon, add dry ingredients to creamed butter and sugar, then stir through honey and figs. Pour into the pan and bake for 1 hour, checking after 45 minutes.* Cool on a wire rack.

Recipe modified from original found in Off The Shelf, Donna Hay, William Morrow, 2001.

*Because I used a larger pan, 9" x 5", my bread cooked faster. I also worried about the bottom browning too much so midway through the cooking process I moved the oven rack up and put a cookie sheet underneath the loaf pan. Both things seemed to help. Cutting into the loaf after it cooled, the center had cooked all the way through, yet the bottom was golden brown, not black.

This bread is delicious served warm, slathered with butter.



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