Thursday, July 03, 2008

A spiral of figs...

I love to munch on dried figs as a snack, but I wanted to incorporate them into a treat for us as we were gifted a bunch of them.

These Fig-Swirled Buns didn't originally start out this way and were suppose to be assembled a bit differently. However, I wanted to make them a little more interesting, so we decided to shape them into cinnamon bun-esque shapes instead.

I used a combination of all-purpose flour and white whole-wheat flour for the dough to keep them light, yet add a little more nutrition into the buns. Being prepared in a food processor, the dough comes together in a hurry and only needs to be processed for a minute to knead. You don't need a food processor to prepare this recipe though, you could just as well do it the old fashioned way by hand or even use a stand mixer. The dough should feel tacky to the touch, so adjust the flour as needed.

While the dough was busy bubbling up and rising, we tossed the dried black mission figs into a food processor to chop them up. Because they are unbelievably sticky, you'll need some moisture to help them move and groove in the processor bowl - to brighten them up and add a touch of sweetness, we used freshly squeezed orange juice. This doesn't have to reach a paste, but you'll want the figs finely chopped. Rolled out into a large rectangle, the dough is smeared all over with the processed figs - just leave a clean border along one long ledge so you can pinch the dough together. You can use a sharp serrated knife to slice the log into the rolls, but I always use unflavored dental floss as it won't squish the dough and makes excellent clean cuts.

Rather than placing them all snuggly together in a couple baking pans, I made use of our enormous 24 cup muffin tin we picked up at a restaurant supply store a couple months ago! Since we got 16 buns. I went ahead and filled the empty holes with water to prevent them from scorching. Rising time can be a little tricky - you are looking for them to rise until they are puffy and almost doubled in size. One way to tell if they have risen enough is to poke one gently in the side with your finger - if the indent remains, they are ready to go!

The slightly sweetened dough is not overly buttery or rich, allowing the figs to shine through. I did find that this also made them not as meltingly tender though, but neither of us minded. While they were still warm, we stirred up a glaze consisting of confectioners' sugar and just enough milk to thin it out. With their golden spiral domes, these almost reminded me of those fig bars, except a lot more fun to eat!

Do you happen to be like me and a fan of that crusty layer of rice that forms on the bottom of a paella? While tonight's dinner, Persian Spiced Rice With Crispy Potato Crust, isn't exactly the same, I was certainly satisfied with the outcome!

To give the brown rice a head start, we added it to a pot of boiling water, but drained it after 25 minutes. I didn't have any medium-grain rice on hand, so I ended up using long-grain, but if you have medium use it as it gives the rice a little more sticking power. Once drained (don't forget to press out some of the excess water!), the rice is tossed into a bowl with sour cream, an egg, paprika, a generous pinch of earthy saffron and cumin.

So you can see when that golden crust form, you'll want to use a glass one quart baking dish - I bet you could even get away using a glass pie plate too. In the dish, we drizzled a good layer of olive oil and added a single layer of thinly sliced new potatoes and onions. To heat up the oil before the rice goes in, the dish is placed in the oven for 5 minutes. The creamy rice mixture is then pressed on top of the potatoes and onions (and will subsequently reach the bottom of the dish), then placed back into the oven until the rice has cooked through and you can see a golden crust on the bottom. I think we could have let ours go a little longer, but it was getting a little late and Jeff wanted to eat! Turn this large rice "cake" out so the bottom doesn't get soggy as it sits (I suggest serving it immediately), however be careful when doing this as a little of the oil might drip out as you turn it out.

Sliced into wedges, the nutty rice mixture held together well even with using the long-grain rice while the potatoes along the edges crisped up just like homemade potato chips. If you do use medium-grain rice, which happens to be a little more sticky, I think you could even skip the added egg. If you're not keen on new potatoes, try this dish using half of a small sweet potato, thinly sliced, for a different flavor.



  1. I already know that I'm in love with that potato rice combo just from looking at it. Double carbs! I am making this RIGHT after the holiday weekend....Happy fourth Joe!

  2. Oh my goodness--I love figs! I love them dried, but I get really excited around this time every year when the fresh figs start making their appearance in the stores...yum. I will definitely have to give these buns a try!


  3. Love the look of those fig buns. What a fun alternative to cinnamon - added to my 'to make' pile! Like the look of your big muffin tin and it keeps the buns all looking perfect.

  4. Quinn - There is no way we would survive on that low-carb thing!

    Courtney - Oh, I know what you mean about fresh figs. I can't wait to see them in the market!

    Katie - Thanks! I love that muffin tin as it makes life a little easier when doing big batches!