The letter this week is F
F is for Figs, Fig trees and Fig Newtons, among other amazing things
A large Fig tree at Moreton Bay near Brisbane
and the figs that grow on it
Fig Newtons are more ancient than you might think. It was probably the early Egyptians 'who invented the fig roll in its early form as a confection of preserved figs wrapped in a flour-based dough' and traded by traveling sailors and explorers.
Fig rolls were the ideal answer for early physicians who believed that most illnesses were related to digestion problems and recommended a daily intake of biscuits and fruit.
Charles M. Roser was the modern cookie maker who boosted the Fig Newton to its place of glory.
James Henry Mitchell invented a machine in 1891 that worked like a funnel within a funnel; the inside funnel supplied jam, while the outside funnel pumped out the dough, producing an endless length of filled cookie that was then cut into smaller pieces.
Eventually Nabisco came into the picture and the fig rolls were trademarked as "Fig Newtons"
If you yearn to make your own Fig Newtons here is a handy recipe!
Make the dough by combining 3 cups of flour, 1/2 cup of sugar, 1/2 tsp of salt. 3/4 tsp of baking powder and 1/2 tsp of cinnamon with 1 1/2 sticks of butter cut into pieces. Whisk together 3 eggs and add to the dough.
Refrigerate for a couple of hours while you make the filling. Well, it won't take you a couple of hours to make the filling, but fit it in sometime while the dough is resting.....
Combine in a saucepan and cook over medium heat until all the liquid is absorbed and the mixture is thick, stirring occasionally while cooking..... 2 cups of chopped figs, 1 cup of orange juice, 1 cup of apple juice, 1/2 tsp cinnamon, 4 tbsp of sugar and 1 tsp of orange peal. Let the filling cool slightly then puree until smooth, and refrigerate.
Now, when you are ready to bake, heat the oven to 375F and make an egg wash by whisking an egg with 2 tsp of water.
Divide the dough into 3 equal parts and on a lightly floured surface roll out each portion into a rectangle about 1/8 inch thick (one piece at a time) Cut the dough lengthwise into strips about 2 1/2 inches wide. Paint around the edges of each strip with egg wash and spoon the fig filling down the centre of the strip, then fold the dough over to enclose the filling. Place the tubes, seam side down on a greased cookie sheet - or on parchment paper (much easier) and press down lightly to flatten.
Brush the newtons with the egg wash and bake until light golden brown (about 15 minutes). When they are cool cut with a sharp knife into appropriate lengths, depending upon whether they are destined for the lunch box or a fancy tea.....
If you want to learn more about the letter F click here to go to ABC Wednesday, with thanks to those who maintain this informative and entertaining meme.