Sweet Fig and Dark Chocolate Loaf

As some of you know, I’ve been participating in The Kitchn’s Baking School, trying to do the smaller homework assignments each night and then getting my bake on during the weekend.

The homework assignments have led to some mighty tasty baked goods, I must say, including choux pastry, which was turned into mushroom sandwiches; proper, time-consuming puff pastry, which became sweet and crispy allumettes; yeasted dough, which was almost effortlessly transformed into a stollen-like loaf full of dark chocolate, figs and walnuts.

I am not a novice baker, but I have found that the Baking School lessons are laden with information, history, chemical alchemy and tips and tricks that even the most qualified bakers out there would find useful. Although I want to take step back now that we’re coming up to the cake layering and decoration side of things… Still don’t see why I can’t just bake the goodies and leave the decorating to someone else… someone with a lot more patience…

Fig and Chocolate Loaf

A string of events forged a path to this bread. This bread had to be baked. And now.

It started with figs. It occurred to me that we were nearing the end of fig season and I had yet to cook with them. The Baking School lesson for Day 13 was rich yeast breads and sweet breads. I purchased and started reading A Year of Good Eating: The Kitchen Diaries III by Nigel Slater, where, in the very first entry, he evocatively writes about his tradition of baking bread on New Year’s Day. Around the same time, he also published a sweet fig and dark chocolate loaf recipe in his column for The Guardian.

I may not have followed the homework assignment to the letter, but I made the bread that I was meant to make.

Oh and if you make this, do yourself a favour and have a slice while it’s still warm and the chocolate filling is still gooey. Trust me.

It may not be warm any longer because I am so late this week, but I’m bringing the few slices I haven’t eaten to the Fiesta Friday 91 party, joyfully co-hosted this week by Angie @The Novice Gardner, Juju @ cookingwithauntjuju and Indira @ I’ll Cook, You Wash.

Sweet Fig and Dark Chocolate Loaf

Fig and Chocolate Loaf

Ingredients

For the Dough

  • 50g butter
  • 250g plain flour
  • 7g easy bake yeast
  • 100ml milk (warmed)
  • 25g sugar
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 large egg (lightly beaten)

For the Filling

  • 6 green cardamoms
  • 3 figs (roughly chopped)
  • 100g dark chocolate (chopped into small pieces)
  • 50g walnut halves
  • 40g golden sultanas
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

For the Glaze

  • 50g butter
  • icing sugar

Method

  1. Melt the butter in a small pan, then leave to cool down. Sieve the flour into a large mixing bowl. Sprinkle in the yeast then stir in the milk, sugar, salt, cooled butter and the lightly beaten egg. Mix thoroughly – the dough will be soft and rather sticky. Turn out on to a lightly floured board. As you knead, the dough will become less sticky, more like a bread dough. When it is soft, elastic and no longer sticking to the board, transfer to a floured bowl. Set aside in a warm place, covered with a clean tea towel, for a good hour.
  2. For the filling, break the cardamom pods and remove their black seeds. Crush the seeds to a coarse powder using a pestle and mortar or a spice mill. Mix the figs, chocolate, walnut halves, sultanas, cinnamon together.
  3. Dust the work surface with flour and tip your risen dough on to it. Roll out into a rectangle about 24cm x 20cm. Place the longest side towards you and spread the fig filling over the dough, then roll up, swiss-roll style, to form a plump loaf shape. Lift onto a floured baking sheet, cover with a tea towel and return to a warm place to prove for a further hour. Heat the oven to 180°C.
  4. Place the loaf in the oven and bake for about 35-40 minutes until pale gold. Melt the butter for the glaze and brush over the loaf. Cool on a wire rack, then dust generously with icing sugar.

Recipe by Nigel Slater as found on The Guardian’s website.

Roasted Sweet Potato and Fresh Fig Topped Spinach Tortillas

There’s no better way to celebrate another Meat Free Week than by posting a recipe by the men who made vegetables fashionable: Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi.

There is also no more arguing that autumn is now truly upon the other half of us. The weather has changed, the wind’s turned cool, which for the moment, is a lovely change to the sweltering and humid winds of the past season.

And with autumn comes the next wave of figs. Beautiful, sweet, slightly funky tasting figs.

Roasted Sweet Potato and Fresh Fig Salad

It truly is the fig’s presence in the Roasted Sweet Potato and Fresh Fig Salad that is served at Ottolenghi that ties the whole dish together. Oh, and the balsamic reduction. Notice it missing from the photo?? Trust me, you do not want to forget the glaze!

As I was serving this salad for dinner, and only this salad, I knew we’d need a little crunch, or should I say, a little carbs. For better or worse, I turned Yotam and Sami’s beautiful salad into a pizza/tortilla/wrap topping of sorts. But it worked! The crispiness of the spinach tortilla was a welcome texture on the plate. It also became a spoon to scoop up all the veggie goodness; and to mop up the sticky globs of balsamic reduction.

So, with only a few days left, go experiment with veggies and grains and enjoy Meat Free Week 2015.

And don’t forget to come and celebrate at Fiesta Friday’s new hangout that Angie @The Novice Gardener was so nice enough to create for us. Her co-hosts this week are Selma @Selma’s Table and Margy @La Petite Casserole so you know it’s going to be a great party.

Roasted Sweet Potato and Fresh Fig Topped Spinach Tortillas

  • Servings: Serves 4 to 6
  • Print

Roasted Sweet Potato and Fresh Fig Salad

Ingredients

  • 4 small sweet potatoes (1kg in total)
  • 75ml olive oil (divided)
  • Maldon sea salt and black pepper
  • 40ml balsamic vinegar
  • 20g caster sugar
  • 12 spring onions (halved lengthways, cut into 4cm segments)
  • 1 red chilli (thinly sliced)
  • 4 to 6 spinach tortillas
  • 6 fresh and ripe figs (240g in total, quartered)
  • 150g soft goat’s cheese (crumbled, optional)

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 240°C.
  2. Wash the sweet potatoes, halve them lengthways and then cut each again similarly into 3 long wedges. Mix them with 3 tablespoons of the olive oil, 2 teaspoons of salt and some black pepper.
  3. Spread the wedges out on a baking sheet, skin-side down, and cook for about 25 minutes until soft but not mushy. Remove them from the oven and set aside to cool down to room temperature.
  4. Meanwhile, to make the balsamic reduction, place the balsamic vinegar and sugar in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil then reduce the heat and simmer for 2-4 minutes, or until it thickens. Be sure to remove the pan from the heat when the vinegar is still runnier than honey; it will continue to thicken as it cools. Stir in a drop of water before serving if it does become too thick to drizzle.
  5. Heat the remaining oil in a medium frying pan and add the green onions and chilli. Fry them over a medium heat for 4-5 minutes, stirring often, making sure not to burn the chilli, and then spoon the oil, onions and chilli over the sweet potatoes.
  6. On a medium heat, cook the tortillas on both sides until just crispy in the same frying pan used to cook the green onions and chilli. Set aside and cover with foil until ready to serve.
  7. Divide and arrange the sweet potato and chilli mixture on top of each tortilla. Dot the figs among the wedges and then drizzle over the balsamic reduction. Serve at room temperature with the cheese crumbled over, if using.

Recipe from Jerusalem by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi.

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