About this recipe:Here's a classic – a crisp, shortbread pastry wrapped around a rich fig filling. The natural sweetness and full flavour of dried figs need little embellishment other than lemon juice to add a zesty tang.
115 g (4 oz) plain white flour
115 g (4 oz) plain wholemeal flour
150 g (5½ oz) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
65 g (2¼ oz) light muscovado sugar
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 egg yolks
250 g (8½ oz) ready-to-eat dried figs, finely chopped
2 tbsp lemon juice
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Sift the two flours into a mixing bowl, tipping in any bran left in the sieve. Rub in the butter with your fingertips until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.
Add the sugar, vanilla extract and egg yolks, and mix to a firm dough, adding 1–2 tsp water if necessary to bind. (Alternatively, blend the flours and butter in a food processor, then add the sugar, vanilla and egg yolks, and blend briefly to make a dough.) Wrap in cling film and chill for 30 minutes.
Put the figs in a small, heavy-based saucepan with 6 tbsp water. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat, cover and simmer gently for 3–5 minutes or until the figs have plumped up slightly and absorbed the water. Transfer to a bowl and mash lightly with a fork. Add the lemon juice and stir, then leave to cool.
Preheat the oven to 190ºC (375ºF, gas mark 5). Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface to a 50 x 15 cm (20 x 6 in) rectangle. Cut the dough rectangle in half lengthways to make 2 strips.
Spoon half the fig purée evenly along each strip, near one of the long sides. Bring the opposite long side up and over the filling, to form a ‘log’ shape, and press the edges of the dough together to seal.
Flatten each of the logs slightly. Using a sharp knife, cut each log across into 10 biscuits and transfer to a greased baking sheet. Prick each biscuit with a fork or score with a sharp knife. Bake for 12–15 minutes or until slightly darkened in colour.
Transfer the biscuits to a wire rack to cool. They can be kept in an airtight container for 2–3 days (the shortbread might go soft if mixed with other biscuits).
To make cherry and apple rolls, gently simmer 100 g (3½ oz) dried cherries in a saucepan with 5 tbsp water and 1 cored and finely chopped dessert apple until the water is absorbed. Use instead of the fig filling.
Dried fruits are a useful source of iron in the diet, particularly for those eating little or no red meat. In addition to iron, dried figs also offer good amounts of calcium. Just 3 dried figs (55 g/2 oz) will provide around 20 per cent of the RNI (reference daily intake) of calcium and 17 per cent of the RNI of iron for a woman aged 19–50.