Saturday, April 07, 2007

Fig, dates and walnuts... oh my!

When I went pull out some chicken from the freezer this morning, I noticed that we did not have a good variety of snacks in there. I decided that I needed to make a quick bread this morning, so we could have slices waiting in the freezer when the mood strikes.

I was never really a big fan of figs until a couple years ago - I'm not sure what changed, but I find them to be quite good now! I knew we had some dried black mission figs from Trader Joe's in the pantry, so I went to find a recipe would use some of them up. As I delved into the stacks of recipes, I pulled this Fig, Date, and Walnut Quick Bread recipe that has been in my to-try pile for a good long time. To bring the fruit back to life a bit, the dried figs and dates are soaked in a warm mixture of buttermilk, lemon zest, nutmeg and cloves. You want to bring the milk mixture up to almost the simmer stage, but you don't want it to boil - it will curdle and separate. If that does occur, I would still probably go ahead and use it - the mixture will just look a little odd! This is a fairly low-fat bread as you only need to add two tablespoons of oil - don't let that turn you off though, even with that minimal amount, the figs and dates keep the bread quite moist. Besides adding moisture, the figs and dates also add a gentle sweetness, so a half cup of brown sugar brought just the right amount of rich sweet flavor.

The original recipe calls for chopped walnuts to be placed on top of the raw batter, but I was concerned that they would fall right off when you went to slice the baked bread. I decided to just toast the nuts first and then fold them into the batter. This dark bread has a slightly spicy edge to it from the nutmeg and cloves - before taking a bite, Jeff was certain that it was some kind of gingerbread from the aroma!


  1. I was staring at the pack of dates I bought the other day wondering what I had in mind that day. Never mind what it was, I will be trying your bread soon.

  2. we really liked this recipe too!

  3. Joe - Since my return to Los Angeles (only for a holiday, sadly), I have been getting dried fig from the local farmers' market and am in heaven. Figs are too costly in NZ. Fortunately, I will be back in the US for the summer, and my good friend has a fig tree...Yay. I will try this recipe then. Hope all is well with you and your loved one.

  4. Helene - Let me know what you think!

    Erin - it freezes well! We just finished up the loaf after coming back from vacation!

    Shaun - Sorry to hear that they are expensive! Though, I bet I would give them up to live in NZ!