The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Fig Anise Bread

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varda's picture
varda

Fig Anise Bread

Recently a customer asked me to bake a fig anise bread.   She had bought a loaf from Standard Baking in Portland Maine, and loved it, but doesn't get up there often.   At first I was a little reluctant to go down this road, as I thought figs?   anise?   really?   but then decided to see what I could come up with.   A search on TFL revealed that there was just such a bread in Nancy Silverton's La Brea book.    As this has been on my list forever, I bought a copy, procured some dried black mission figs and anise seed, and put it together.   This morning I baked the loaf, cooled it and then dug in.   I have to say this bread is incredibly delicious.   The anise helps instead of hurts as I had worried.  The figs are absolutely decadent.   Sometimes it is good to listen to people (not always of course.)  

The crust of this bread comes out almost black.   Fortunately Nancy Silverton warns of this, or I would have thought I was burning the bread after only 30 minutes.   The only bread I've seen darker than this is Syd's squid ink bread.   But I didn't use any of that.

I must have read this somewhere on TFL as I'm hardly a gourmand, but this bread is just made to go with goat cheese.   What a treat.  

So two questions.   Has anyone been to Standard Baking?   (Karin?)    Any chance that this is the same bread as they sell there?    What is your favorite bread from  Silverton's book?   I can't wait to try something else.

Comments

proth5's picture
proth5

Black crust?  Never a problem.

varda's picture
varda

Thanks Pat.  -Varda

ananda's picture
ananda

Hi Varda,

You may not have noticed, but Farine blogged on the same type of loaf here: http://www.farine-mc.com/2013/10/fig-anise-50-whole-wheat-bread.html

This version is from King Arthur's Martin Philip.   Quite a coincidence!

Lovely bread and the photo with the goats cheese and berries does indeed look  like a real treat.

All good wishes

Andy

varda's picture
varda

Hey Andy,   That's funny.   No I hadn't seen that post.   But now I'll know what to try next if the Silverton version doesn't satisfy my customer.   The breads are actually fairly different - for instance despite appearances, mine is all white flour.   But apparently the fig anise combo is where it's at.   Thanks so much Andy.  -Varda

breadsong's picture
breadsong

Hi Varda,
Yum, your bread, and the accompaniments, look delicious.
So kind of Andy to give you the link to MC's post about the fig-anise bread developed in Martin Philip's class at KCW - this was good bread, happy you found the fig-anise in Ms Silverton's book good, too.
Other recipes to try in that book? louie brown's blog features some beauties (olive bread and fougasse).
:^) breadsong

varda's picture
varda

Hi Breadsong.   Thanks for your comments.   I guess I have no excuse now not to try fougasse.   Thanks for pointing it out.  -Varda

Janetcook's picture
Janetcook

Hi Varda,

THis loaf looks great.  Crust looks fine too.  I have been experimenting with high baking temps a lot lately so I am not frightened by charcoal colored loaves.  People love them too.

Can't answer the La Brea question.  The formula I use for Anise Fig is Phil's (PiPs) and it always receives high praise from my anise loving bread 'customers'.  (I use Turkish figs in mine though.  Chopped up they create a heavenly feeling dough to shape and bake with.)

Did the Cadco arrive yet?  I keep waiting to hear so I imagine you are still awaiting delivery and instillation….

Take Care,

Janet

varda's picture
varda

Had no idea there were so many versions of fig anise bread.   I guess it's just like peanut butter and jelly.  

Cadco is sitting in the garage waiting.   Just got the table in place, and rearranged the furniture to fit it in.   Electrician coming this week.   Then water hook up and then I'll start baking.   Can't wait.  

Thanks Janet. 

-Varda

Janetcook's picture
Janetcook

How exciting :)

Now that I am baking with the Electrolux I had installed in late spring (kitchen wall oven for winter baking while Cadco gets overflow in the cooler months and is used exclusively in the summer - in the garage :)  I have gotten a feel for how it bakes compared to the Cadco.  Here are my findings that may help you adjust temps and bake times.

Electrolux is convection but the fan isn't nearly as forceful as the Cadco's fan.  Cadco produces a much darker crust on breads baked at the same temp. as the Electrolux so if you don't want dark crusts you might want to drop heat temps down 25-50°.  Bake times are pretty much the same.

 I do turn both ovens off for the first 10 minutes of the bake when I steam so that the steam doesn't all get blown out of the oven.  To accommodate this off time I generally pre-heat Electrolux at 475° and the Cadco at 450° for lean loaves.  Lower for enriched breads.  When turned back on I drop the heat down to 400° or lower depending on bread type.  I still play around with temps. when baking to get the crusts the color I want so I find that I change temps about every 10-15 minutes in a bake….fussy baker…

Anyway, your  oven is larger than mine so I am sure there will be differences that you will figure out pretty quickly.  I am anxious to hear how it all works out for you.  You will LOVE having 2 ovens at your disposal.  Expect your electricity bill to rise….  :O

Have fun!

Janet

varda's picture
varda

Thanks for the pointers Janet.   I'm expecting to have some challenges learning to use this oven.   Hopefully I'll get it in time for winter market season which is coming soon.   -Varda

trailrunner's picture
trailrunner

Have never tried that combo but have seen it often in other blogs. Will have to add it to the holiday bake list as it seems like it would go well with a lovely red wine too !   Great pics. c

varda's picture
varda

Just right for the holidays as it is so rich.   I'm very pleased with the Nancy Silverton book so far.   Can't wait to try some more.   Thanks TR.  -Varda

breadforfun's picture
breadforfun

Hi Varda,

You did a great job with the fig anise loaf.  I came across a similar loaf in Portland (the one on the west coast) from the Pearl Bakery that I tried to duplicate, but I was never fully satisfied with the results.  Coincidentally, MC (Farine) just posted a recipe for a similar bread that you may find interesting.  You can find it here.  And I agree that the tartness of a soft goat cheese complements the sweet fig flavors well.

-Brad

varda's picture
varda

Brad, I just looked at the Farine loaf.   I'm sure it is delicious.   Mine is all white flour whereas hers is half whole wheat as well as many other differences.   May try that one too.   Will have to come up with a cheaper source of figs than whole foods if I keep this up.    I had some of this with chicken and salad for dinner and that was good too.   Yum.  Thanks for commenting.  -Varda

dabrownman's picture
dabrownman

of bread that Lucy comes up with, we might have done a bread that had figs and anise in it along with who knows what else but we never had one ever go so dark and gorgeous like yours.  Just beautiful.

Lucy says she is thinking about taking back your well earned The Crumby Baker title for the fine crumb in your Doubled Chocolate Malt and other breads.and changing it to The Crumby & Crusty Baker instead.

Happy baking Varda

varda's picture
varda

one of those obligatory flavor combinations.   Who knew.   Generally I would say that I don't like anise, but it just works here.   There is only a small amount so it isn't overwhelming - just a subtle accent.   Did you notice my plating?   Now where did I get the idea of a few berries on the side?   No really where?   Thank Lucy for me as always.   She's very sweet.   Wonder if she would bite Obi Wan's belly?   He has gotten very tall, and is a bit skittish around short dogs as he doesn't know where they'll get.   Thanks DA.  -Varda

Song Of The Baker's picture
Song Of The Baker

Nice loaf Varda!  It's at this time of year that I crave a loaf with walnuts and figs in it.  I was going to bake one this weekend but we ended up buying one instead...for some reason I just ducked....

Anyway, nice job!

John

varda's picture
varda

John,  Did you say walnuts?   Of course.   That would taste great with figs.    And you didn't even have to make it.   Forgot to say in my comment on your post that I enjoyed your fall pictures.  Thanks John.  -Varda

Floydm's picture
Floydm

Wonderful, Varda!

varda's picture
varda

Thanks Floyd. -Varda

isand66's picture
isand66

Beautiful loaf Varda...I would be leery about anise as well but you have convinced me I may need to try this one.  

Curious how your customer will like this bread compared to what they had before.

Regards

Ian 

varda's picture
varda

Hi Ian,   At least with the Silverton approach, the flavors are very balanced.   I can't speak to the combination in general.   I guess I'll see how she likes it.   If she is expecting one thing and gets another, perhaps not so much. I won't make it for sale for another week or so, so won't find out until then.    Thanks for commenting.  -Varda

limmitedbaking's picture
limmitedbaking

Hi Varda, lovely loaves! Hamelman has a Anise-Fig formula too that calls for 50% wholewheat flour. I think it includes rosemary too and the combination of flavours work really well. One of my favourite fruit loaves with the warm touch of the anise and rosemary. 

Silverton has many interesting formulas, though some of them involve so much preparation. The walnut loaf is pretty good too and it's quite popular in tfl.

varda's picture
varda

I don't know why it doesn't occur to me to look in the books I already have.   Now I'll have to try the Hamelman version as well.   I'll check out Silverton's walnut loaf.   Sounds good.   I must admit that I simplified the fig loaf process a little bit, as I can't stand fussiness and find it's often not necessary.   But still followed her approach pretty well. Thanks for commenting.  -Varda

hanseata's picture
hanseata

Your bread looks wonderful, Varda! I don't remember having seen a fig anise bread at Standard Baking, but I will look out for it when I go there next time. They have often daily specials, I don't think it's a bread they bake on a regular base.

I don't own Nancy Silverton's book (yet), I just brought Lutz Geißler's "Das Brotbackbuch" from Germany, and can't wait to bake my way through it.

Karin

varda's picture
varda

Hey Karin,   I think she said it is available only on Wednesdays.   Don't know how often you are in Portland on a Wednesday though.  Nice that you got a new book.  I tend to buy a book, bake one thing out of it, and then forget all about it.   I must bake at least two things out of La Brea or even three.   Thanks so much for your comments.  -Varda

hanseata's picture
hanseata

I will be in Portland next week and see whether they have the bread on Wednesday.

The Standard Baking Co. book is very good, I made 4 things from it so far, and all were great, especially the croissants.

Karin

Mebake's picture
Mebake

Thanks for reminding us of this wonderful combination, Varda  And yours is a fine example. Congrats on you new oven btw. i admire your efforts in baking for public, it is no easy task.

-Khalid

varda's picture
varda

Khalid,  This bread is a special and for me at least, unexpected treat.   My biggest problem right now is figuring out how to grow some but not too much.   I can't exactly go from 30 loaves a week to 300 a day without something in between.   And yet can't afford rent for much less than that.   How do people do this?  Thanks for commenting.  -Varda

hanseata's picture
hanseata

I bought a Fig Anise Bread from Standard Baking. This is what it looks like:

They sell it in a plastic bag, so the crust is soft.

It has a strong, almost licorice taste (the sweet kind, not the salty), is sweet, but only slightly, more from the figs than from sweetener in the dough. I'm pretty sure it is made with some whole wheat. It tastes good with butter, and I can imagine it would be good with cheese, too.

Hope this helps,

Karin

 

varda's picture
varda

Karin,   Wondering if you tasted the whole wheat?   The reason I ask is because it looks like the crumb there is lighter than mine, and the Silverton version crumb is dark entirely because of the figs as there is no whole wheat in there.   In addition to the whole figs, there is a fig puree.   Your taste description is consistent though, so may be at least similar.   The bread looks really nice.   Too bad about the plastic bag.   Start with good crust, then destroy it before even selling the loaf.  Thanks so much.  You're very nice to look into it.  -Varda

hanseata's picture
hanseata

I'm pretty positive I did taste whole wheat, but it definitely wasn't a 100% whole wheat bread. I don't think they used a fig puree, only chunks. Standard Baking sells most breads unwrapped, only a few are in plastic bags, probably because the crust is semisoft, and not meant to be crisp.

I ate today the last of the Fig Anise Bread, it kept very well (another reason I'm sure there was whole wheat in it), and it tasted really good toasted.

Normally this isn't the kind of bread I would buy, because it's sweetish, but it really grew on me.

Karin

varda's picture
varda

to make this loaf slightly less decadent.   I already reduced the added sugar.   Hope to get up to Portland sometime and visit Standard Bakery.   Sounds like a good one.   Thanks Karin.  -Varda