Fig and Oatmeal and Chocolate, Oh My!

I am expecting to harvest over 100 pounds of fig from our single tree in the back yard. We are leaving the very high figs for the birds and squirrels. They don’t seem to understand that and keep raiding my allotment on the lower branches. To date I ate figs, froze figs, made fig preserves, fig spread, fig newtons, fig cake and now fig/oatmeal/chocolate chip cookies. Daniel is making some figgy pudding, I am planning some fig hand pies and we gave away 20 lbs to friends, family and neighbors. What’s next, Fig fudge? Fig ice cream? Fig bread? You know, sometimes there may be too much of a delicious thing.

cookie and milk small

I searched a number of recipes to find one I liked for fig cookies. The one I chose also had oatmeal and chocolate. Think oatmeal/chocolate/raisin cookies except the fig imparts a softer and more subtle flavor and texture the raisin would. I upped the fig content being sure to not use any fully or over ripe figs. They would kick up the moisture content making the cookies too soggy. I also omitted the coconut (not a favorite of Fran.) Chilling the batter is essential. I chilled for 2 hours and it may not have been enough. The first batch were a little flat, the second were better.

Fig and Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies

Based on post from fiveandspice at Food52.com

Makes about 2-dozen cookies

INGREDIENTS

  • ½ cup plus 3 tablespoons salted butter, at room temp.
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 2/3 cup dark brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 ½ cups rolled oats
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 9 ounces chopped dark chocolate (I like 70% cacao)
  • 1½ cup chopped fresh figs (not over ripe)

METHOD

  1. Cream the butter and sugars together until light and fluffy (3-5 minutes) in a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add the eggs and vanilla and beat until fully incorporated, scraping down the sides of the mixer as needed.
  2. In a separate bowl, stir together all the remaining ingredients. Stir these into the butter mixture on low speed until fully combined with no dry floury patches left.
  3. Refrigerate the dough 30-60 minutes before proceeding. Heat your oven to 350F. Scoop the dough in 2-3 Tbs. scoops onto baking sheets. Bake each sheet one at a time (keep the full sheets that aren’t being baked in the fridge until it’s their turn) until the cookies are golden around the edges but still look a tad doughy in the middles, about 15-18 minutes, rotating each baking sheet halfway through the bake time.
  4. Let the cookies cool on the sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack to finish cooling.
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Shield of David

Our best friend gave me two gifts for my recent birthday. Now, I am not saying there were ulterior motives here, but she is visiting us this fall. Coincidence? Perhaps not.

The Shield of David (Mogen David, or Jewish Star) is a six pointed star symbolizing the internal and external connections of Torah, God and Israel. A Shield of David bundt pan makes an awesome cake, too.

You may have read elsewhere in this blog, we had a bumper crop of figs in our backyard tree this year. My challenge was how to use all these fresh figs. I froze a few pounds but our freezer is pretty small and already has chocolate chip cookie dough ready for baking, extra tartlet shells for an emergency snack or drop in guests and several quarts of Vermont maple syrup from near my home town in Vermont, so I have frozen enough already.

slice 2

Today I made a fig-spice cake in my new pan. Think apple-spice but with figs instead. The Bundt pan worked really well. Spraying with some Baker’s Joy helped the cake slide out of the pan perfectly. The cake is moist with good texture and is sweet.  (It was even  sweeter after dusting with confectioners sugar.) The figs were well dispersed throughout the cake and the edges had a nice caramelized crunch.

 

Based on hungryforlouisiana.com/figging-out-fresh-fig-cake/

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 eggs
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup canola oil
  • 1 cup buttermilk (or 1 Tbl white vinegar mixed into 1 Cup milk)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup chopped fresh figs (between 15-20 small to medium figs)
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon ginger
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 pinch nutmeg
  • Confectioner’s sugar and fig leaves for garnish

METHOD

  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Using a standing mixer or bowl, whisk eggs briefly. Add sugar and beat until light and fluffy, about one minute. Add oil, and beat until just combined.
  2. In a separate medium bowl, add buttermilk and stir in baking soda.
  3. Beginning with flour, add flour and buttermilk mixture alternately and mix until combined.
  4. Add chopped figs, cinnamon, ginger, salt and nutmeg, and mix until thoroughly incorporated.
  5. Pour batter into a greased and floured Bundt pan, and bake until done (50-60 minutes).
  6. Cool in baking rack for 5-10 minutes, then remove from pan. Allow to cool another 5-10 minutes. Arrange on plate, and garnish with confectioner’s sugar and fresh figs.

What The Fig!!

Well, it finally happened. The figs in our backyard tree are ripe and ready for harvest. To date, we have harvested about 55 pounds (about 25 Kilos) of figs. Let me be clear. That is the first harvest. We probably have 2 or 3 more to go.  Prolific tree, I just wish the apricot and plum trees would take a lesson. I made several pints of fig preserve and several fig newton filling (alone with some homemade fig newtons), fig and brie tarts and froze a few pounds for future consideration.

Picking the figs proved somewhat challenging. It turns out many people are allergic to the sap and/or leaves of the fig tree. As luck would have it, all of us were, some more than others. Soap (Dawn dishwashing detergent) and water and time worked well to remove the itch and rash. It was gone the next day. Next time, long sleeves and gloves.

After the figs were washed, dried and sorted the best were sliced (about ½” thick) and frozen. Some were laid out on parchment lined baking sheets and put in the freezer. Others were sliced and put into zip lock bags and a simple syrup with Fruit Fresh added were frozen. We shall see which method we like better.

Picking Figs

Picking 2

Picking

Frances and I picked the first half of the harvest. Daniel, The Young and Tall, joined us after his work the next day to  help with the high fruit. Rosie, the Supervisor as ever vigilant.Supervisor

 

Washing, Sorting and Processing

The fruit was washed, dried (wet fruit spoils faster) and spread as a single layer on paper towels in the refrigerator for processing the next day (after rash). Note to self: Use gloves on day two also.

The cut figs were boiled to 220oF and either mashed with a potato masher (Frances’ method) or food processed with a couple quick pulses (my method) and canned. I added a couple more pulses for the newton filling, which seemed about right in the final product.

Here are a couple of tips about making the fig newtons. The recipe makes just the right amount of cookie batter vs. filling, try it. After cutting the rolled dough to an 8”x14” sheet, roll it as rectangular and with as straight edges as possible. It will make the cookies look better.  Also, before trying to fold the dough over and pinching shut cut the sheet in half, or ever thirds, crosswise. This makes the soft dough easier to fold smoothly. More also, be bold when folding. Like flipping eggs in a frying pan. Just go for it. If you don’t fold far enough for the un-filled edges to meet, it’s a bear to try to stretch the top layer to meet the bottom to seal.

For the tartlets, be sure to use enough Brie (or other cheese) to fill half the shell. Too little and the cheese does not add enough flavor. You can always add a piece of cheese to the top to compensate. I also sprinkled the tartlets with a little flaked sea salt to offset the fig sweetness.

Homemade Fig Newtons – HGTV

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 pint fresh or preserved figs or 12 ounces dried figs
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 stick butter
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons orange juice

If you are using:

  • Fresh figs: Remove stems and boil figs with a cinnamon stick and 2 cups of sugar in 1 cup of water for 45 minutes. Drain and cool.
  • Dried figs: In a bowl, pour boiling water over figs (stems removed) and let rest 10 minutes. Drain all but 2 tablespoons water and stir in 2 tablespoons corn syrup + ¼ teaspoon cinnamon.
  • Preserved figs: Drain syrup.

METHOD

  1. Puree figs in food processor until a thick paste forms (if too thick or thin to spread evenly, add a little water or flour until spreadable consistency is reached).
  2. Combine flour, baking powder and salt together and set aside.
  3. Cream butter and sugar in a mixing bowl.
  4. Add egg and vanilla, mix until smooth
  5. Add orange juice and combined dry ingredients to bowl and mix until dough forms.
  6. Optional: for dough into a flat thick disk and chill to set butter and make it easier to roll and fold.
  7. Roll dough out on a floured surface into a 8”x14” rectangle about ¼” thick.
  8. Cut rectangle in half lengthwise.
  9. Spread fig paste onto half of each rectangle, lengthwise.
  10. Cut the rectangle in half crosswise, or even thirds to facilitate folding.
  11. Fold dough in half lengthwise to cover fig paste and pinch edges to seal.
  12. Slide each newton log onto a parchment lined baking sheet.
  13. Bake 25 minutes at 350 degrees until crust begins to brown.
  14. Slice into cookie-sized segments and cool. Slice while warm to reducing flaking.

Yes We’re Going to a Party Party

Dutch Oven with Loaf

Along with the other wonderful birthday gifts I received yesterday, (and the day before) Fran gave me my very  own Emile Henry Bread and Potato pot! Emile Henry, France, is a family owned business manufacturing ceramic cooking product since 1850. This bread pot adds a nice glaze to the surface of the loaf and by retaining the moisture which turns to steam, it also imparts a fantastic crust to the bread.

Preheating the oven with Loafthe dutch oven inside to 450o F, adding the risen dough and quickly covering with the top locks the steam into the dutch oven, making it perform like a steam injection oven used by commercial bakeries.

Use any bread recipe you like, to date I have made no knead bread and NY rye. Next up is my standard sandwich bread loaf.

Sliced Loaf

I found if the dough is a little dry, sprinkle a little water on the top of the dough after you place it in the Bread Pot. This will assure adequate water to create the steam necessary to generate the steam.

No Knead Bread – KAF

INGREDIENTS

Grams

  • 680g lukewarm water
  • 907g King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour* or Organic All-Purpose Flour
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 14g instant or active dry yeast

Volume

  • 3 cups lukewarm water
  • 6 1/2 to 7 1/2 cups All-Purpose Flour
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons instant or active dry yeast

METHOD

  1. Combine all of the ingredients in a large mixing bowl, or a large (6-quart), food-safe plastic bucket. For first-timers, “lukewarm” means about 105°F, but don’t stress over getting the temperatures exact here. Comfortably warm is fine; “OUCH, that’s hot!” is not. Yeast is a living thing; treat it nicely.
  2. Mix and stir everything together to make a very sticky, rough dough. If you have a stand mixer, beat at medium speed with the beater blade for 30 to 60 seconds. If you don’t have a mixer, just stir-stir-stir with a big spoon or dough whisk until everything is combined.
  3. Next, you’re going to let the dough rise. If you’ve made the dough in a plastic bucket, you’re all set — just let it stay there, covering the bucket with a lid or plastic wrap; a shower cap actually works well here. If you’ve made the dough in a bowl that’s not at least 6-quart capacity, transfer it to a large bowl; it’s going to rise a lot. There’s no need to grease the bowl, though you can if you like; it makes it a bit easier to get the dough out when it’s time to bake bread.
  4. Cover the bowl or bucket, and let the dough rise at room temperature for 2 hours. Then refrigerate it for at least 2 hours, or for up to about 7 days. (If you’re pressed for time, skip the room-temperature rise, and stick it right into the fridge). The longer you keep it in the fridge, the tangier it’ll get; if you chill it for 7 days, it will taste like sourdough. Over the course of the first day or so, it’ll rise, then fall. That’s OK; that’s what it’s supposed to do.
  5. When you’re ready to make bread, sprinkle the top of the dough with flour; this will make it easier to grab a hunk. Grease your hands, and pull off about 1/4 to 1/3 of the dough — a 14-ounce to 19-ounce piece, if you have a scale. It’ll be about the size of a softball, or a large grapefruit.
  6. Plop the sticky dough onto a floured work surface, and round it into a ball, or a longer log. Don’t fuss around trying to make it perfect; just do the best you can.
  7. Place the loaf on a piece of parchment (if you’re going to use a baking stone); or onto a lightly greased or parchment-lined baking sheet. Sift a light coating of flour over the top; this will help keep the bread moist as it rests before baking.
  8. Let the loaf warm to room temperature and rise; this should take about 60 minutes (or longer, up to a couple of hours, if your house is cool). It won’t appear to rise upwards that much; rather, it’ll seem to settle and expand. Preheat your oven to 450°F while the loaf rests. If you’re using a baking stone, position it on a middle rack while the oven preheats. Place a shallow metal or cast-iron pan (not glass, Pyrex, or ceramic) on the lowest oven rack, and have 1 cup of hot water ready to go.
  9. When you’re ready to bake, take a sharp knife and slash the bread 2 or 3 times, making a cut about 1/2″ deep. The bread may deflate a bit; that’s OK, it’ll pick right up in the hot oven.
  10. Place the bread in the oven — onto the baking stone, if you’re using one, or simply onto a middle rack, if it’s on a pan — and carefully pour the 1 cup hot water into the shallow pan on the rack beneath. It’ll bubble and steam; close the oven door quickly.
  11. Bake the bread for 25 to 35 minutes, until it’s a deep, golden brown.
  12. Remove the bread from the oven, and cool it on a rack. Store leftover bread in a plastic bag at room temperature.

METHOD 2 – DUTCH OVEN

  1. When you’re ready to bake, measure out a two-pound ball of dough. If you don’t have a scale, it should look like it will fill the base of the Bread Pot most of the way.
  2. Shape the dough and let it rest on a floured kitchen towel or piece of parchment paper with the seam side up, covered, while it rises. (You can also use a brotform if you want to make some fancy rings on the surface of your loaf.)
  3. To ensure you get a burst of steam when the dough is put inside the pot, it should be preheated empty for about 30 minutes. Start preheating your pot roughly 30 minutes before your rising dough is ready to bake.
  4. Keep in mind the temperature of your kitchen will make a difference in how quickly the dough rises. The No-Knead Crusty White Bread dough can take anywhere from one to three hours to rise; I usually let it rise for at least one hour before preheating the pot for 30 minutes, giving the dough a total of a 1½ hours to rise.
  5. When your dough looks like it will be ready in 30 minutes, put the Bread Pot (both the bottom and the lid) into the cold oven, and set it to 450°F (or the temperature your recipe calls for).
  6. Half an hour later, the dough should be risen and the pot should be thoroughly preheated. Carefully remove the hot pot from the oven, taking care to place it on a neutral surface like a cooling rack, wooden board, or kitchen towel. (Avoid contact with anything cold, such as cold water or a cold surface; this may cause the pot to crack.)
  7. Apply a gentle coating of vegetable oil-based non-stick spray and sprinkle in some semolina flour or cornmeal. (Be careful during this step — the pot may smoke slightly when prepared.)
  8. Slide your hand under the towel or piece of parchment paper and turn the dough over into the pot, seam side down. You can gently shake the pot from side to side to help the dough settle evenly in the bottom.
  9. Don’t worry if your dough doesn’t look picture-perfect here; it will turn into a beautiful, golden loaf as it bakes.
  10. Make a few slashes in the top of your loaf (a lame works well for this), and then put the lid on. Bake for 40 minutes; remove the lid and bake for another 10 to 20 minutes, until the loaf browns fully.
  11. Remove the loaf from the oven and let it cool completely on a rack before slicing.