Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Pane di Fichi - Fig Bread

I am sure I have mentioned before my weakness for fruited breads. Whether it is raisin, cranberry, blueberry, currant or you name it, it is sure to make me salivate. And if I am in a bakery and I spy a loaf of crusty raisin bread then you can bet it will find its way into my shopping cart, even if I know that I have a couple of homemade loaves in the freezer. I don't care that I can feel my hips expanding with every bite, (well maybe a little) the sheer pleasure each sweet morsel brings outweighs the cons. And not only that, once in a while for a special indulgent treat I top a slice or two with soft, melt in your mouth blue cheese like cambazoola. This delightful fig bread by Carol Fields is no exception.

In her book The Italian Baker she describes this bread as "succulent and delicious as well as easy to make" and it is. This bread probably dates back to the middle ages when the Sunday bread was enriched with honey, fruit and nuts. Fortunately we don't have to have this bread on Sundays only. Paired with some soft cheese it really is a treat to eat. The only problem is limiting how many slices to allow yourself.

The recipe produces one round loaf but I divide the dough into three smaller portions. That way I can freeze a couple of loaves and enjoy them on a later date.

I highly recommend this deliciously sweet bread and whether you have it for lunch or for breakfast, you can't go wrong.

Pane di Fichi - Fig Bread

2-1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast or 1 small cake (18 grams) fresh yeast
1 cup warm water
1½ tablespoons olive oil
About 3 cups (375)grams unbleached all-purpose flour, plus 2 tablespoons for the figs
1 teaspoon (5 grams) salt
1 cup (200 grams) figs, preferably Calimyrna or Greek string figs, cut into about 12 pieces each

Stir the yeast into the water in a mixer bowl; let stand until creamy, about 10 minutes. Stir in the oil with the paddle and then 3 cups flour and the salt. Mix until the dough comes together. Change to the dough hook and knead until velvety and moist, 3 to 4 minutes.

First Rise. Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover tightly with plastic wrap, and let rise until doubled, about 1 hour.

Filling. Toss the figs in 2 tablespoons flour to coat the surfaces. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface. Without punching it down, pat the dough into an oval and spread half the figs evenly over the surface; roll up the dough. Pat the dough into an oval again and sprinkle evenly with the remaining figs; roll it up again. Shape into a round loaf, being gentle but, at the same time, pulling the skin taut over the figs. Place the loaf, rough side down, on a lightly floured peel or oiled baking sheet, cover with a towel, and let rise until doubled, 1-¼ to 1-½ hours.

Baking. Thirty minutes before baking, heat the oven with a baking stone in it to 450°F. Sprinkle the stone with cornmeal just before sliding the loaf onto it. Bake 15 minutes. Reduce the heat to 375°F. and bake 15 minutes longer. Cool completely on a rack.



Gosia said...

Oriana, I love your bakes always, but this time it feels I could pray to this fig bread. I went gluten-free and in the unexplained way, I masochistically, come here to watch you bake. Sigh!

doughadear said...

If you are able to visit bread sites and be gluten free then it says a lot about your will power. I don't know that I could resist.

So nice to hear from you again.

Chiara said...

che bella ricetta Oriana..non ho mai mangiato il pane di fichi, deve essere molto buono! un abbraccio....

doughadear said...

Ciao Chiara,
Si il pane e molto buono e spero che un giorno lo saggi. Un abbraccio.

Melinda said...

They look so lovely, as usual! I've not had fig bread before but I think I would love it.

doughadear said...

Hello Melinda,
If you weren't so far I'd send a loaf for you to try, I'm sure you would love it.
I imagine you are back at work by now and I hope you are well and back in the swing of things.

extrarich said...

This I LOVE!

doughadear said...

extrarich, Me too!