The history of the fig is as old as the history of man. Adam covered himself with a fig leaf in the Garden of Eden, the Romans loved the food of the fig tree, and the fig tree was brought to the New World, along with grapes, by the Spanish. The fig can be eaten fresh in the summer and dried in the winter; its delightful sweet nature makes it a favorite in baking. Use the pale Calimyrna, the top produced variety, or the dark purple Mission fig. The figs will soften in hot apple juice, so there will not be any chewy chunks in this quick bread. Serve this bread for breakfast.
- 1 cup apple juice
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces
- ½ pound dried figs, stemmed and cut, into quarters (1 cup)
- Grated zest of 1 orange
- 2 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
- 2½ teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1½- or 2-pound- loaf machines
1. Heat the apple juice and butter over medium-low heat in a small saucepan on the stovetop, or in a microwave-proof bowl in the microwave, until the butter is melted. Remove from the heat and add the figs and orange zest. Set aside to cool to room temperature, about 1 hour.
2. Place the ingredients in the pan according to the order in the manufacturer’s instructions, adding the apple-fig mixture with the liquid ingredients. Set the crust for dark, if your machine offers crust control for this setting, and program for the Quick Bread/Cake cycle; press Start. The batter will be thick and smooth. When the machine beeps at the end of the cycle, check the loaf for doneness. The bread is done when it shrinks slightly from the sides of the pan, the sides are dark brown, and the top is firm to a gentle pressure when touched with your finger, a toothpick or metal skewer will come out clean when inserted into the center of the bread.
3. When the bread is done, immediately remove the pan from the machine. Let the bread stand in the pan for 10 minutes before turning it out, right side up, to cool completely on a rack. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and chill overnight or up to 3 days before serving.