I’m still on a fig roll. Figs are in season in the southern hemisphere, and our trees all have a decent crop this year. I made a baked fig rice pudding for a barbeque last night, but it was only ok. I think maybe rice pudding really needs no eggs and to be served in a bowl rather than sliced.
This fig and rosemary schiacciata (or focaccia? I’m not sure of the difference) though was recipe-writing worthy. It starts with a sourdough and a rosemary infused honey oil, for which you need almost no time for making but at least 10 hours or so for proving. So this is a magnificent weekend brunch that fits with a lazy Sunday morning, but you need to remember to start it the night before.
The Rosemary Oil
- Roughly chop a good handful of fresh rosemary. Put it in a small pot and just cover with olive oil. Add a good teaspoon of honey and a pinch of salt.
- Heat the oil till it just starts to bubble, then turn it off and let the pot sit, so that the rosemary infuses the warm oil
- Take the sourdough starter out of the fridge.
- Mix 1 cup of unbleached bakers flour, 1 cup of water, and 1 cup of starter.
- Put half of it back in the fridge. You should be left with 1 cup of fed starter, to put in a bowl covered with a clean cloth on the kitchen bench for a few hours (depending on how lively your starter is and how warm your kitchen) to froth up and get breeding.
- Mix in 1 cup of baker’s flour, a little dollop of olive oil (perhaps a tablespoonful), and half a teaspoon of salt. It will be more like a sticky batter than a dough. Let that sit for half an hour or so and miraculously it will lose a lot of the stickiness.
- Flour the benchtop well, and tip the mix out onto it. Sprinkle flour on top. Knead it briefly, kneading in just enough more flour to get a ball of soft, springy dough. To get the open, chewy crumb you want to keep the dough as “hydrated” (as in, wet) as you can. Put a good dollop of olive oil in a large bowl, swirl the dough ball around in it to coat, cover the bowl with a clean cloth, and leave out on the benchtop for another few hours (or overnight) to prove. It should double in size.
- Turn your oven on to heat up to medium hot.
- Oil a shallow baking pan. Mine is an oblong pan 30 cm long. Tip the dough out onto a floured bench, knock it down, and pat and stretch it into a shape that fits the pan, then transfer it in.
- Slice half a dozen large figs into 1.5 cm slices and arrange over the top.
- Strain the rosemary honey oil and sprinkle it over the top of the figs and the crust.
- Bake for around 40 minutes until the crust is browning and the figs are caramelised.
For a spectacular taste sensation, slice off warm chunks and spread with goat’s cheese.