The other day, I made my first batch of fig newtons using fresh fruit from our large, ancient fig trees. Even if they didn’t bear fruit, I would adore these trees for their structure. Their knobby lower limbs grow nearly parallel to the ground and make ideal climbing trees for my 7-year old niece. Oh, how I would have loved to have just one of these trees when I was a kid!
Even though the trees are loaded with figs every year, the birds and other critters manage to make a substantial dent in the crop. That’s okay. There’s no way we could eat all of the figs produced by these trees. I just wanted enough to try a couple of recipes – fig cookies and fig newtons. Mission accomplished.
My favorite part about baking with figs is cutting them open. In contrast to the lackluster exterior of a fig, the pulp is an unexpectedly gorgeous, luscious red. Not only are they beautiful, but they are also very easy to process. There’s no need to remove the skin or seeds… just wash and dice. The knife slides through them like butter. Working with figs almost seems too easy.
So… are they good for baking? Yes! I was delighted by the results of the recipe below. The cookie/bar was moist, sweet and figgy-licious!
1 lb. dried figs or 2 lbs. fresh figs (9 medium, 12 small)
1 c. sugar
1/2 or 1 c. water (1 c. for dried figs; 1/2 c. for fresh)
1/2 c. butter, room temp.
1 c. sugar
1 tbsp. cream or milk
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking powder
1 3/4 c. flour
Dice figs and soak in water for 1 hour. Add sugar and cook on medium heat until of thin jam consistency.
Beat sugar, butter, egg, milk and vanilla until well blended. Add dry ingredients. Mix well. Refrigerate 1 hour.
Place half of dough on floured surface. Knead about 6 times. Roll out to 1/4 inch thick. Line bottom of 9 x 13 inch glass dish and cover with figs. Roll remaining dough and cover figs.
Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.
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