We’re making fig rolls today! Well, date rolls to be precise because I don’t have figs. This is Week 2 of my bake-along with The Great British Bake Off. I’ve never eaten a fig roll before, although I did use to buy the occasional fig bar from my high school vending machine. I imagine they have to taste kind of similar.
I know I’ve fallen further behind the Bake Off schedule, but I’m planning to make the burger baps this weekend and maybe sneak in the Maids of Honour as well, so not to worry guys we will catch back up :-)
After my disastrous results attempting the first challenge, angel slices for Cake Week, I was feeling a bit discouraged from spending so much time and ultimately failing. Luckily, this week’s technical challenge was fig rolls, and even though I had never tried one before, they turned out to be a lot more simple to make.
Since dried figs are hard to find, not to mention expensive, I used what I have at the moment: dried dates and raisins.
I threw about 1/4 part raisins and 3/4 part dates into my saucepan with just enough water to cover, per recipe, and simmered them for ages and ages. When it looked like most of the water had boiled off and the mixture was basically mush, I turned off the heat to let it cool while I moved on to the dough.
I have to say, I wasn’t a fan of the smell. It just smelled very… sour and raisin-y. I don’t like raisins but I do like dates, and I had hoped the dates would mask the raisin flavour but it was more like the other way around.
(Added way too much vanilla extract, but whatever)
The dough was very simple. It came together quickly in my stand mixer, and I wrapped it in cling film to chill in the fridge.
Moving back to my now-cooled date mixture, I dumped that in my blender until it became a pretty homogenous looking paste. I then scraped it into a bowl and put it in the fridge as well, hopefully it would harden quite a bit because at the moment it was very gloopy and soft.
After about an hour, I took the dough ball out of the fridge and rolled it about as thin as I could. Rolling it out on a piece of parchment paper as suggested in the recipe was a big help, because it didn’t stick at all to the counter!
At this point, I realized I completely forgot the cinnamon and ginger that I should’ve mixed in with the date mixture. Frankly, I didn’t think the ginger would make such a big difference (especially since the taste was going to be altered anyway by using dates instead of figs), but I did coat the surface of the dough in cinnamon powder just to get that extra flavour in there.
When I tried to grab the filling to shape it into sausages, I found that it was still just as soft as when I’d put it in the fridge; chilling hadn’t helped it firm up at all. I’m thinking that I didn’t reduce the water enough when I was simmering, but at this point it was too late to do anything about it, so I just sort of spooned the mixture into the middle of each strip of dough.
The super soft filling made things really messy when I started to roll and cut each pastry. It was threatening to spill out of both ends, but luckily it held together just well enough that I could transfer them into the baking tray.
I realize that I should’ve made less cuts, because mine were wider than they were long. Also, there was no way I was applying a fork to the tops like the recipe wanted me to; at this point I was trying to handle them as little as possible because they seemed so soft and fragile! Praying for the best, I sent them into the oven.
Well, they actually turned out so much better than I expected! The dough was fully baked and really nice and light. The dates didn’t ooze out and make a mess as I feared. I overfilled them (could’ve done with less filling and more shortbread), and I wasn’t the biggest fan of the flavour, but they were still quite tasty. I ate almost the entire plate for dinner.
I can see myself making the dough from this recipe again, but not the filling. Take out the vanilla and some of the sugar, and it would be a perfect dough for wrapping around some cocktail wieners or slices of spam for a snack when Kevin comes to visit. Maybe even for marmite scrolls!
Tune in a few days from now (hopefully) to see me tackle my next Bake Off challenge, burger baps.