Recipe for classic fig rolls (aka fig newtons), but made with wholemeal spelt flour. The fig paste is lightly spiced and gently sweetened and the pastry casing is delicious in its own right with subtle notes of lemon. These biscuits are easier to make than you might think.
It’s very hard to believe and somewhat difficult to come to terms with, but my mother turned eighty a few days ago. Where have the years gone? To celebrate, we went out for lunch with a few friends and I made this fig lemon marzipan bundt cake.
This light Christmas or New Year fruit cake is made with almonds and figs soaked in a cheeky dram or three of whisky. It can be baked a few days before needed or right at the last minute. Even traditional Christmas cake haters are likely to enjoy this delicious fig almond cake.
Another book that passed briefly through my hands recently was Miranda Gore Browne’s Bake Me a Cake as Fast as You Can. It has lots of easy to bake cakes which all sound quite delicious, but the one that caught my eye was Brighton Cake. It’s a very old fashioned and simple cake where you rub the butter into the flour rather than creaming it. A bit of nostalgia crept in when I saw it and a burning need to use up some very old jars of jam.
A deliciously moist light fruit cake buzzing with flavour that can be made a few days in advance or right at the last minute. It can be made at any time of the year, but this fig and mincemeat cake works particularly well as a Christmas bundt in lieu of a traditional Christmas cake.
Although I prefer less rather than more sugar in my confectionary, there is no doubt about it, I have a sweet tooth – a sweet tooth combined with a love of chocolate. And I am not alone it seems. According to the Belgian chocolate company Callebaut, two out of three people are more likely to choose a chocolate dessert over a non-chocolate one.
September is a month of abundance, or at least it is in my mother’s garden this year. We went foraging there a few days ago to see what we could find. As well as gathering lots of windfall apples, a big bowl of blackberries, some plums and a few blueberries, we came home with four ripe figs.
This month for Random Recipes we were asked to take 10 seconds to grab one book and run. Dom reckoned with no time to think, we would automatically go for our most useful book. My go to baking book is Nigella Lawson’s How to be a Domestic Goddess, which coincidentally is the book that featured in last month’s Random Recipes. If I need a reminder on how to make something or need a reliable recipe, then this is the first book I turn to. This doesn’t necessarily mean it is the best or even most comprehensive baking book I own, although I suspect it probably is, but I’ve had the book for many many years and it is like an old familiar.
The next task was to randomly pick a recipe. When I asked CT to pick a number, he obligingly came up with no. 15 which was Nigella’s Victoria Sponge. I have made a Victoria innumerable times, but I have never used Nigella’s recipe before. She suggests substituting some of the flour for cornflour. I’m always interested in trying different methods and ingredients, so I was keen to see what, if any, difference this made. On the three page spread that this classic took up, chocolate was not even mentioned once – harrumph! With a sponge, this is really not a problem as it can generally be filled with whatever you like. I decided I would fill it with the fig and pomegranate jam I made last year and a chocolate buttercream – chocolate and figs are a good combination I reckon.
This is how I made:
Fig and Chocolate Victoria Sandwich
- Creamed 225g unsalted butter with 225g vanilla sugar (golden caster) until pale and airy.
- Beat in 1 tsp chocolate extract.
- Beat in 4 eggs (2 medium hens eggs and 2 large duck eggs).
- Sifted in 200g flour (half wholemeal spelt and half white), 25g cornflour and 1½ tsp baking powder. Stirred in as gently as possible.
- Stirred in 2 tbsp sour milk (ordinary milk is fine, but sour helps with the rise).
- Divided mixture between two 21 cm cake moulds and baked at 180°C for 25 minutes until the cakes were risen, golden and firm to the touch.
- Turned first cake out of the mould to cool. And this is where disaster struck. I normally leave the cakes to cool in the moulds for ten minutes before turning out, but in my eagerness I didn’t listen to the warning bells in my head. Large chunks stuck to the bottom of the mould and my first cake was a mess. I dutifully left the second one in it’s mould for 15 minutes before turning out and it was absolutely fine.
- Melted 15g of dark chocolate (72%) in a bowl over a pan of hot water.
- Creamed 50g unsalted butter with 100g golden icing sugar until pale and fully incorporated.
- Beat in the chocolate.
- Beat in 1 tbsp double cream.
- Placed all the pieces from the broken cake together to form a round as best I could.
- Covered this with the contents from a small jar of fig and pomegranate jam.
- Spread the buttercream over the bottom of the intact cake and placed this, bottom side up on top of the broken one.
- Dusted the top with caster sugar, then immediately cut a slice to see a) if it would hold together and b) how it tasted.
I am eating that slice now and can attest that despite its rather crumpled look, the cake held together and tastes wonderful. The jam and buttercream are a good combination, but I actually think the jam with whipped cream would have been a better one – less sweet and would have allowed the jam to really shine. I’m not sure I really noticed any difference having used cornflour but it wasn’t a double blind trial.