Pan de Higo (Spanish Fig Bread)
This isn't actually bread, but more of a gorgeous dense paste of dried figs, nuts and spices, pressed into a log for slicing. It's easy to make, needs no baking, but you do need to allow 2–3 days for drying. Once dried it will keep for 3-4 weeks in an airtight container.
Serve it thinly sliced with olives, a dribble of honey perhaps, and Manchego or a hard sheep cheese such as Ford Farm Crofter.
This version of Pan de Higo is adapted from a recipe given to me by Dorset's baking diva, Lizzie Crow aka The Baking Bird.
Serves 10–12, thinly sliced
soft dried figs 500g (see Cook's notes below)
aniseed or fennel seeds ½ tsp
black peppercorns ½ tsp
skinless almonds (preferably Marcona) 150g
skinless hazelnuts 150g
sugar ½ tsp
lemon finely grated zest of ½
ground cinnamon ½ tsp
ground cloves ¼ tsp
plain chocolate (preferably 85% cocoa solids) 30g, melted
brandy or oloroso sherry 2 tbsp
1) Snip the hard stems off the figs, then cut the figs in half (see Cook's notes below).
2) Using a mortar and pestle, lightly crush the aniseeds and peppercorns to release their essential oils.
3) Put the almonds and hazelnuts in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse a few times until coarsely chopped.
4) Add the halved figs, sugar, lemon zest and all the spices. Whiz for 2-3 minutes until you have a well combined paste. (You will probably need to break up the paste now and then.)
5) Pour in the melted chocolate and the brandy. Give it a final whiz to mix.
6) Scrape the paste onto a clean, lightly floured work surface. Mould it into a long log, about 6cm diameter. Slice in half crossways to make two shorter logs.
7) Tightly wrap each log in a piece of baking parchment, twisted at the ends to close. Put in a suitable container (a square cake tin, or plastic box) and top with a plate weighed down with food cans or other heavy objects. Leave to dry in a cool airy place for two or three days.
8) Serve in thin slices with cheese, olives and a glass of sherry.
• You will need ready-to-eat or no-soak soft dried figs, rather than the hard
type that need soaking.
• If you value your food processor, be sure to cut the figs in half, otherwise
you risk over-working the motor.
Recipe © Christine McFadden, December 2021