My favourite show, the Great British Bake Off is back on TV!!! Supplying me with 90 minutes of pastel bunting, gingham table cloths, dodgy innuendos and sugary spectacles. I’m safe in the knowledge that the scariest thing that could happen in an episode is a soggy bottom! Its a feel good, positive programme which supercharges my inspiration and creativity.
This years bakers dozen are an extra talented bunch. In the 1st episode almost everyone’s fruit cakes tasted sublime and the artistic skills of the novelty birthday cakes was extremely high. I particularly loved the snake cake and treasure chest. From the first episode my favourite is Henry but, I have a feeling, Steph, Dan & Alice will give him a run for his money!
The second episode covers all things biscuits and for the technical, Paul asks the bakers to make an English classic: fig rolls. A nostalgic bake for my mum who grew up munching these morsels. She tried to ply my brother and I with them when we were younger but to no avail, we just couldn’t hack the intense, chewy filling.
However, I’m pleased to announce my tastebuds have evolved and my love of dried figs is strong. Thus, there seemed no better time to veganize the classic fig roll. My biggest challenge was making pastry that was crisp and golden outside but hinted at a cakey softness below. I wanted to recreate a vegan pate sucree, the sweet French pastry with a sweet and tender biscuit crumb. Sunflower lecithin whilst not a common ingredient, makes the perfect egg yolk replacement for it. Lecithin is found in egg yolks, as well as organ meat, fish, soy and obviously sunflower seeds. You can get both soy and sunflower lecithin granules or powder online or at health food stores. I prefer sunflower over soy as it has numerous health benefits and doesn’t undergo the chemical extraction that soy does to get the lecithin. It’s an essential, unsaturated fat, vital for successful functioning of our brain, liver, heart and nervous system. It is often used in bread making as a natural preservative and in cooking as binding agent and emulsifier. If you can’t find lecithin just leave it out, you’ll be making shortcrust pastry which has a slightly shorter and crumblier texture as, its the “egg yolk” which holds, provide richness and a biscuit texture to the pastry dough. The fat prevents the gluten overdeveloping and becoming tough and chewy. If not using lecithin just be extra conscious not to over handle the dough and this will help prevent the toughness developing.
I have rehydrated the dried figs using vanilla, black tea to impart even more flavour but you can simply use water or whatever tea you have to play with, English breakfast, earl grey or chai would also be great. I’ve also spiked my pastry with ground coriander as its slightly citrussy tangs pairs amazingly with the sweet, fudgy figs. However, you can leave this out as the figs are a big enough star on their own!
(This recipe makes about 20 fig rolls)
- 200g wholemeal self-raising flour
- large pinch sea salt
- tsp sunflower lecithin powder (or granules ground up)
- 25g syrup of choice (I used date syrup but honey, maple or apple puree all work)
- 50g sunflower oil
- 3 tbsp. vodka (you could use, lemon/orange juice/milk instead)
- 250g dried figs (stems removed, then diced)
- x1 teabag brewed in 150ml boiling water (I used a Mauritian vanilla black tea, but English breakfast, earl grey or chai tea would also be amazing)
- Place the figs and strong brewed tea in a small saucepan with a lid. Leave to simmer on a low heat, for about 10 minutes, until most of the liquid has evaporated and the fruit is soft and pulpy. Stir the fruit occasionally to make sure its not sticking, then set aside to cool before blitzing in a food processor to make a thick paste.
- To make the biscuit, place the pastry ingredients except vodka in a large bowl. Using your hands pinch the ingredients together to form fine crumbs (as you would for crumble/streusel mix).
- Add the vodka and bring the crumbs together into a ball of dough using a spatula or table knife at first and then your hands. Knead briefly into a smooth ball. If you overwork the pastry it will be tough and chewy!
- On a lightly floured work surface roll the dough into a rectangle, about the size of a piece of A4 and roughly 1/2 cm thick. Cut the pastry in half length ways.
- Spoon teaspoonfuls of the fig paste down the centre of each long rectangle. Smooth the paste into and even log using the back of a spoon. Fold one edge of the dough over the log (I used the messier edge first) then brush the 2nd edge with a little water and fold over to cover the log and create a seam of pastry.
- Slice the log into 1 inch rounds, you should get about 12 rolls from each log.
- Place the fig rolls on a lined baking tray tucked back up in their log formation. This will help the biscuit keep their shape plus stops the filling splurging and drying out.
- Chill the fig rolls for 30 minutes then bake in a preheated oven at 190/180 degrees for fan assisted ovens for 20 minutes, turning the tray round after 15 minutes so they bake evenly.
- Leave to cool completely before dividing up and then snaffling! Store the biscuits in an airtight container for in a cool place for up to a week. (their scrumminess will make this time unlikely!)