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Makes 2 loaves of fig bread (approx. 20 ounces each)
My grandpa was an amazing gardener and his pride and joy was the prolific fig tree that grew on the edge of his land. I could sit under it for hours and eat figs until I thought I’d burst. This bread is and homage to him and those little gems I grew up on.
In a medium bowl stir the figs with the water and olive oil until the figs are well coated.
In a separate small bowl stir the flour, yeast and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the figs and, by hand, stir together until the flour and water are completely incorporated and it is a shaggy mass of dough. Put the dough into a lightly oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place for 1 1/2 to 2 hours.
Refrigerate the dough until it has firmed up a bit, is less sticky and easier to handle, about 30-60 minutes. (The dough can be kept in the refrigerator overnight. Let sit at room temperature for 1-2 hours to warm up before continuing with the recipe.)
Remove from the refrigerator and turn dough out onto a floured work surface. Divide the dough into 2 equal pieces. (If you retarded it overnight, let it rise covered, for about 60-90 minutes, depending on the warmth of the kitchen).
Form each dough piece into an oblong, round loaf or baguette and place them on a well-floured work surface (away from drafts) or a baking sheet. Cover with a clean kitchen towel or plastic wrap and let rise at warm room temperature until the dough increases in size by half, about 2 hours, depending on the warmth of the kitchen.
While the dough is rising, preheat an oven with a baking stone to 425°F. (The baking stone needs to be preheated for at least 1 hour.) At this same time, put a cast iron or roasting pan on the bottom of the oven to warm up.
When the dough has risen sufficiently, generously spray entire loaf with water using a spray bottle. Then place the loaves on a lightly floured oven peel. Pour 3 cups of cold water into the pan and slide the loaves from the peel onto the baking stone. Bake until they’re a rich brown color, 36 to 40 minutes.
Remove from the oven and let cool completely on a rack. Store the bread in plastic bags or a special “bread bag” on the counter for 1 week. It can also be refrigerated for that time as well. It can also be frozen for up to 2 months.
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