I woke up early today and felt like baking. This doesn’t happen often (either waking up early or the desire to bake.) We had some friends coming over after dinner to discuss something, and there was nothing in the house to serve with drinks, so I thought I’d make something.
The recipe I followed was by Sarah Al-Hamad from her book Sun Bread and Sticky Toffee. I won this book in a social media competition a couple of years ago. I love Middle Eastern cooking! But until now, I’d never used a recipe out of it.
The recipe calls for 1 pear, which I didn’t have. So I used some dried apple rings that have been floating around in the back of my cupboard for a while, I’m ashamed to say. I think I must have bought them in Turkey a few years ago. I soaked them for an hour in hot water, as well as a small bag (around 250g) of tiny dried figs which my mum brought back from Iran for me as a gift. That was a couple of years ago too, so I thought this was a brilliant time to use them up.
I also used about 200g of dates that I bought in Lebanon last month. They were quite cheap, very dark, extremely soft and sweet – gooey almost- and have a slight chemical taste to them. (Nothing like the posh Medjool dates you can buy. It would be almost a sacrilege to use them in baking.) All in all, because I had ingredients I wanted to finally use up, I made about double the amount of filling. I used half and I’ve frozen the other half to make more another time.
Instead of honey or syrup, I used just a dash of the soaking liquor. As the figs and apples were very moist from soaking, I didn’t think it needed much extra liquid (although I did add a little lemon juice, as suggested in the recipe, but not the full amount.) I added roughly the amount of spices given in the recipe.
I made the dough exactly like the recipe, including 2 hours of chill time in the fridge. I split it into 4 portions as suggested, which made rolling it out a lot easier. But I found the size stated in the recipe to be a bit small – tiny in fact! I think the size I rolled mine out to was probably more like 20cm x 12cm. I sliced them a bit more thinly – about 2-3cm wide. I made 24 pieces instead of 30. I didn’t bother with the glaze. I’m sure this would add another layer of flavour, but I didn’t have any sesame seeds, and frankly I couldn’t be bothered. I baked them in a slightly hotter oven (Gas mark 5) for 30 minutes.
They are absolutely delicious! Crumbly yet crispy, with a soft, creamy centre. I could have eaten the whole batch in one go, but fortunately those days of binge eating are gone. They don’t look much like the photo in the book – they are a lot bigger and messier. Maybe I needed to knead the dough more, and let it rest longer. They look and taste vaguely like their shop-bought namesakes, and not as sweet. I find the shop bought fig rolls have a centre which is like glue – it really sticks to your teeth! Not these. Please try making some – they are seriously good!