Sunday, 1 December 2013

Pan de higo con almendras - Andalusian fig cake

Soup Sunday is taking a well deserved break and for the rest of the year Sundays are all about gift ideas for the foodies. I myself don't celebrate Christmas much. Since I don't believe in that Jesus. The Gentleman isn't too keen on it either. Since he doesn't believe in anything. 

The house in Spain on the other hand gets decked alright. The doors with wreaths (plastic, big and sparkly) and the house with Christmas trees (three to be precise - plastic and equally sparkly). Courtesy of the Santa's little helper living in The Mother-in-Law's house less than a mile away: "Of course you've got to have a tree!"

My sister's year, too, can be neatly divided into three sections: Christmas, the 180 days after it and those 181 days during which she's statistically closer to next Christmas. And no, I exaggerate not: the Christmas calendar countdown can be found posted on her Facebook wall right after Midsummer. 

Though I'm not one for Christmas myself, I do notice my Love Actually dependency levels rise to the red part of the scale. And I'm not averse to all of the Christmas foods either. Especially around Christmas in Spain the shops sell pan de higo, a no-bake cake made of dried figs and almonds. Which isn't really a cake at all. This delicacy, originally from Jaen in Andalusia, is traditionally served with cheeses and cold cuts.

Malagan figs are famous, but the most authentic variety is pajarera fig from Extremadura, an autonomy north of Andalusia and also famous for iberico-pigs that are widely considered to be the best in the country. These figs are smaller and thinner skinned than the ones from Turkey or Middle East. The almonds traditionally used for this are marcona almonds. But in case you can't get your hands on those specific specialities, it's really not the end of el mundo. If you want, you could add some other dried fruits or berries into this and I'm sure cognac could be substituted with... port? Or that really smooth sherry from Pedro Ximénez I've had the pleasure of sampling in Ronda and in Tallinn...

You could make one bigger cake or 2 smaller ones that make pretty foodie gifts for cheese lovers!

Pan de higo con almendras - Andalusian fig cake:

500 g dried, soft figs
2 tbsp cognac
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp ground ginger
3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tbsp cane honey (or dark syrup)
50 gr almonds (plus some more for decoration)

Trim the stalks of the figs and roughly chop to smaller pieces (of this just might turn out to be the end of your food processor...) Blizz with the spices, honey and cognac to a sticky pure. Add a bit water if needed, but the more liquid you add, the more time the cakes need for setting and drying. Spoon into dishes of your choice the bottom of which you've lined with parchment. Cover with a cloth and let set in the fridge for a couple of days. Kept covered this keeps for ages.





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