“Ooey gooey rich and chewy inside
Golden flakey tender cakey outside
Wrap the inside in the outside
Is it good? Darn tootin’!
Doing the Big Fig Newton
(Here’s the tricky part)
The Big Fig Newton
(One more time)
The Big Fig Newton!”
Hi Folks! Summer is in full swing! And what better way than to make something with fresh figs!?
To be clear, these aren’t supposed to be Fig Newtons. I just wanted to show you the Fig Newton commercial stuck in my brain for 40 years now. Thanks, Nabisco! Now, whenever summer comes around and I see fresh figs in the grocery stores, or even sometimes when I’m walking down the cookie aisle, this song pops up into the forefront of my consciousness. So you get to sing and dance with me and ‘Do the Newton!’ Hit it, Hal!
Seriously, I’m going to call these cake bars. Because they really are sort of too cakey for just “bars” (or are they too bar-y for just “cake”? Hmmm…) Anyhoo, I’m really excited at how they turned out! They really are somewhere between a bar and a cake.
I knew that there were chutney recipes out there that called for pairing fresh fig with tamarind paste, but I have not come across a sweet baked good with them, so decided to make my own.
I think the tart, tangy zinginess of the tamarind paste acts as a nice counterpoint to the sweetness of the fresh figs. The other supporting flavors of ginger, cardamom, and nutmeg are kept to a bare minimum, so as not to overpower the fig or tamarind flavors. You can still taste the spices, but just barely. Which is exactly what I wanted, because I didn’t want it to be too much like gingerbread.
The added bonus of adding fig purée to the batter, aside from keeping it nice and moist, is that it also acted as a binder, and so I didn’t even need to add eggs to this, which a big plus! You can probably also substitute oil for the butter to make it vegan. Either way, I hope you enjoy!
Tamarind Fig Cake Bars
3/4 cup puréed figs (about 6 medium figs) + 4-5 figs (each fig sliced into several sections for topping)
1/4 cup tamarind paste
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1/2 teaspoon cardamom
1/4 teaspoon fresh grated nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter (use vegetable oil of your choice for vegan)
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extact
Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease bottoms and sides of a 11.5 x 7.5 inch rectangular pan (can use a 9 x 9 inch square pan, but it might very with time in oven) and line bottom with parchment paper that is long and overhangs out the sides of pan on two sides by a few inches.
In a food processer with the blade attachment, purée the figs with the tamarind paste. Use a rubber spatula to scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl of the processer to make sure all the figs are puréed and consistent and the tamarind paste is well integrated with the fig purée. You should have about a cup of this fig purée/tamarind mixture.
Sift together the flours, baking soda, ginger, cardamom, nutmeg, and salt into a bowl and stir with a whisk several times to ensure ingredients are well integrated.
In a medium bowl, beat the butter with the sugars, using an electric hand-held mixer with beaters; beat until fluffy.
Add about a third of the flour mixture to the butter/sugar mixture and mix on low only until all flour is moistened.
Add half of the fig purée mixture and beat again until well combined.
Add another third of the flour mixture, beating on low afterwards again until well combined and all the flour is moistened.
Add the rest of the fig purée mixture and mix again. Scrape down sides of bowl as needed.
Add the rest of the flour mixture and mix on low until well integrated and combined.
At this point, the batter will look just like refried beans, but do not panic! It will look better once it’s smoothed out on the pan, topped with sliced figs, and baked, I promise.
Scoop batter into prepared pan and smooth top out with back of a spoon or small offset spatula. Add sliced figs over top, pressing each slice down slightly.
Bake for about 25-35 minutes, when toothpick or skewer inserted in the middle and pulled out doesn’t indicate that the batter is still raw and wet inside.
Cool in pan on a wire rack. Cut into squares when ready to eat.