Fig and nut cakes
- December 2012
- Makes 4 cakes; each serves 6
- Takes 30 minutes to make
Enjoy Debbie Major’s recipe for pan de higos – Spanish cakes of dried figs and nuts, sweetened with honey or sugar and flavoured with brandy. They make wonderful Christmas gifts.
- 6.5g (0.5g saturated)
- 3.8g protein
- 24.1g (22.7g sugars)
- 4.2g fibre
- 0.1g salt
- 250g blanched almonds or walnut halves
- 1kg good-quality dried figs
- 2 tbsp icing sugar or clear honey
- 1 tsp aniseed or fennel seeds
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- ¼ tsp coarsely ground black pepper
- ¼ tsp ground cloves
- ¼ tsp ground ginger
- Finely grated zest of 1 small lemon
- 1-2 tbsp brandy
- 2 rice paper sheets (28cm x 18cm), available from specialist cake shops and at amazon.co.uk
You’ll also need
- 4 small camembert boxes if making disc-shaped cakes, or sheets of cellophane (available from cakescookiesandcraftsshop.co.uk) if making log-shaped cakes
- Preheat the oven to 200°C/fan180°C/gas 6. Spread the almonds or walnuts onto a baking tray and roast them in the oven until lightly browned: walnuts will take around 5 minutes; almonds about 7-8 minutes. Remove and leave to cool.
- Remove and discard the hard stalks from the figs, then cut them into quarters and put into the bowl of a food processor with the icing sugar or honey. Coarsely chop using the pulse button until the mixture starts to stick together in a ball, but don’t reduce to a smooth paste.
- Set aside 100g of the nuts and chop the remainder into small chunky pieces. Put the aniseed or fennel seeds into a spice grinder
- (I use a coffee bean grinder, reserved just for spices) with the other spices and grind them into a fine powder.
- Tip the fig mixture into a bowl and add the chopped nuts, spices and lemon zest. Mix together well with your hands, adding enough brandy to bind everything together. (At this point, you could make logs instead of cakes – see Wrap It Up.)
- Using the bottom half of a camembert box as a template, cut out 4 discs of rice paper. Line each box base with cling film, leaving the edges overhanging, then put in a disc of rice paper. Divide the fig mixture into 4 equal amounts, then press firmly into each box and flatten the top. Press the reserved whole nuts into the top of each cake. Remove the cakes from their boxes, discard the cling film and dry on a rack for 24 hours before wrapping.
The fig and nut cake is traditionally served in thin slices with manchego cheese, but it goes well with other cheeses too.
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