Monday, May 16, 2011

Mrs Figg's Figgy Newtons

Herewith continues the saga of the Figgy Newtons. I admit that sometimes making shortbread is not the easiest thing. It doesn't come together and can break up when you roll it but my! I have struggled this morning. The dough kept breaking up, it flaked when I rolled it, and I have fought to get it into some form of what the instructions say it should look like.

This recipe comes from Flour by Joanne Chang. I'm obsessed with this book. Not least because it is so fabulously American in all its goods but also because the pictures are mouthwatering and the girl went to Harvard before realizing that baking was the only way forward. I could not agree more. Flour is in Boston, has 3 outlets and is most definitely on my 'list of places to go' when I next visit. (Would some divine good fairy please organize a trip for me?) I still have to make the vanilla cream filled doughnuts at some point. I dream about them. But as I said, I had a glut of figs and no ideas as to what to do with them. So Figgy Newtons it is! The pastry on these things is wonderful. Its perfectly crisp but then just melts away in your mouth. Better yet, they're not particularly sweet. The acid and tart fig jam complements the sweeter pastry resulting in something you could probably eat a lot of in a small amount of time. Particularly if you served them with vanilla ice-cream or mascarpone.

 
Mrs Figg's Figgy Newtons
Adapted from Flour
For the Jam
650g ripe figs
1 orange
110g light brown sugar
zest of one lemon
pinch of salt

Peel, seed and chop the orange. Remove the stems from the figs and cut into quarters. Chuck all the ingredients in a pot and cook down until thick and jam-y. This takes about 45 minutes on a low heat. Allow the jam to cool completely. See the pictures of the jam yesterday.

For the Pastry
230g unsalted butter, soft
75g light brown sugar
30g caster sugar
1 egg yolk
some vanilla
140g stone ground cake flour
120g regular cake flour
half a teaspoon of baking powder

Cream the butter and sugars until light, white and fluffy. Add in the yolk and vanilla. Finally add in the flours and baking powder. Mix until the dough starts to come together. Turn this out and knead into a flat disc. Refrigerate for half an hour. In the mean time, heat the oven to 180C. Line a baking tray with baking paper.
Now, the instructions say to roll out the pastry into a rectangle and then fill and bake this. I couldn't get the dough to work nicely for me (see my rant above) so I eventually divided it into 2 pieces. I rolled each piece out, filled it with jam and then folded the edges to meet in the middle. As illustrated below.


Once you've done that, fold the other edges in and crimp to seal. It should look like a pillow with a seam down the middle. Now, very expertly and quickly, turn your pillow over so that the smooth side is turned upwards. I got lazy with the second one and didn't turn it over. It is not nearly as nice aesthetically speaking but also was harder to cut. Bake these for about 35 minutes until golden brown. If you're making a single one (those of you who are better skilled at this rolling thing than me) bake it for about an hour or so. Allow it to cool completely before slicing.

 This is supposed to be like an afternoon snack thing but I'd serve it as a dessert and I suspect it would go well with Greek yogurt at breakfast too.

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