Sunday, 12 September 2010

Sour cream fig coffee cake

September is not an easy month. After a long, hard and humid summer it would only make sense to take this time to regenerate, recuperate, gather strength and the last of the summer fruit in preparation for a yearned winter.

I am, however, trying not to get my hopes high considering last year I turned the heating once and once only.

Instead, September is host to no less then 4 different holidays, full of meaning and symbolism, family orientated (a challenge in itself) and revolve around food, or the lack of.

So far, its 1 down and 3 to go. The New Year celebrations are finally over and Yom Kippur is in store for the nether part of the week. Traditionally this is a day for internal contemplation, fasting and solitude. No cars, no shops, no restaurants, no TV. Nothing. It’s wonderful. Everything is quiet. Instead of cars the roads are filled with pedestrians and bicycles. Car engines hibernate for the day making way for street cats to take over the tarmac territory and forgotten urban aromas to get noticed in the air.

Riding a bicycle is traditional, watching movies back to back and picking up unfinished books.

With nowhere to go and hours at home, contemplating I clean my slate for the coming year in the kitchen.

Not traditional and perhaps controversial, but I contemplate around food.

On second thought a day with no computers, work and other distractions could do me good. A day of no food; no cooking, no eating, no writing and no thinking of food could be good. Equipped with good books, a dead serious British drama and the company of good friends, I look forward to this fast and welcoming a new year with a clean slate.

With the last of the figs for this season nothing like a sour cream fig coffee cake. For starting over with a new slate.

Sour cream fig coffee cake

Makes 1 loaf


4 ripe figs, washed and diced + 1 fig, sliced

¾ cup all purpose flour

¼ cup chestnut flour (alternatively, you can use 1 cup AP flour)

¼ Tsp baking powder

¼ Tsp baking soda

¼ Tsp fine sea salt

1/3 cup sour cream

1/8 Tsp almond extract

90gr unsalted butter, room temperature

¾ cup cane sugar

1 egg

1/8 Tsp cinnamon

Fresh thyme leaves (optional)

Preheat the oven to 175C

In a large bowl sift together the flours, baking powder and the baking soda. Add the sea salt.

In a separate, small bowl mix together the sour cream with the almond extract and the diced figs.

In another bowl beat together the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes.

Beat in egg until combined, add the cinnamon and alternating between them, add the flour mixture and the sour cream mixture until just combined.

Transfer the batter to loaf pan, smoothing the top.

arrange the fig slices on top and sprinkle with a little cinnamon.

Bake until a wooden pick inserted in center of cake comes out clean and top is golden brown, about 30 minutes.

Cool cake in pan on a rack 5 minutes, then invert onto rack.

Sprinkle with fresh thyme leaves and serve.

Monday, 6 September 2010

Saturday, 4 September 2010

A Whole-wheat seasonal fruit and blue cheese focaccia for a New Year

This week are the Jewish New Year celebrations, that’s code for “everyone is busy cooking and buying gifts". Its the closest we get to a Christmas, and big on the night are east European Diaspora specialties such as the gefilte fish, as well as symbolic foods like honey (wishes for a sweet year), pomegranate (plenty like the grains in a pomegranate) and the head of an animal (as opposed to the ‘tail’).

I already have gifts, (local and seasonal calendars I designed with Inbal , together we are NANA studio), so in keeping with the spirit I am posting a whole-wheat seasonal fruit and blue cheese focaccia that, I feel, embodies my wishes for the coming year combining sweet, sour, and savoury into a harmonious one, crunchy yet moist, with a wholesome and satisfying carb topped with a sharp, ripe Gorgonzola dolce. What more can one want?

Like this focaccia, may this be a year of plenty.

Whole-wheat seasonal fruit and blue cheese focaccia

(makes 1 focaccia)


1 ½ cups whole wheat flour

1 tsp instant dry yeast or little less then 20 gr fresh yeast

1 tsp fine sea salt

1 ¼ cups luke warm water

¼ cup fine olive oil +3 tbs extra virgin olive oil

100 gr Gorgonzola dolce cheese, or any other blue cheese you prefer

Seasonal fruit (such as figs, grapes, mangos, plums, apricots), washed and sliced.

2-3 Tbs sliced slivered almonds

Sea salt, to taste

Freshly crushed peppercorns, to taste

Rosemary sprigs, separated to leaves

2-3 tbs honey

In a large bowl combine the flour, yeast and salt.

Make a well in the centre and add the water and olive oil.

Stir to make a soft dough, adding more water as needed and knead for 8-10 minutes on a lightly floured work surface until smooth and elastic. Shape into a ball and transfer to an oiled bowl, turn to coat with oil, and cover with plastic wrap.

Let stand in a warm place about 1½ hours, until doubled.

Roll the dough out to a rectangle of about 25 × 40cm.

Brush 1½ tbsp of the extra virgin olive oil over half of the dough. Brush water around the edges of the other half and fold the dough in half, to make a rectangle of about 25 × 20cm.

Transfer to a large baking sheet and press the dough with your knuckles to dimple the surface.

Cover the dough with plastic wrap and let stand for about 30–40 minutes, until puffy.

Preheat the oven to 200°C.

Drizzle the remaining 1½ tbsp olive oil over the dough, letting it pool in the dimpled dough.

Scatter the fruit slices and crumble the cheese over the focaccia.

Sprinkle the almond slices and season with the salt and pepper.

Bake for 30–35 minutes, or until risen and golden.

Remove the focaccia from the oven, scatter the rosemary sprigs and drizzle the honey.

Slide onto a rack to cool and serve at room temperature