I made this bread last year and loved it. Somehow it never made it to the blog but I never forgot about it and finally got around to making another loaf. A few months ago I also made a small batch of fig preserves which I broke into last week to spread on slices of my fresh baked fennel fig and almond bread- I think the preserves made this bread taste even better than how I remembered from the first time around. This is really a fig lover’s bread, filled with chopped dried figs, slivers of almonds and aromatic crushed fennel seeds. January is a good month to bake with dried fruit or to break into those homemade jars of preserves, if there are any leftover from the warmer months when the piles of fresh fruit in the markets just seemed to go on and on forever inspiring us to make our jams, jellies and preserves.
Today is one of those Winter days in the Bay Area with bright blue skies and a little coolness in the air-perfect for taking a walk in the neighborhood or a hike in the beautiful hills of Marin. It’s interesting how the color of the sky can effect your mood. Last week when we had grey skies and rain it felt like a dark gloomy Winter’s day, today under bright blue skies the world is your oyster.
Under those grey skies last week we painted our kitchen, now it feels fresh, like an early Spring cleaning. Being locked out of my kitchen for almost a week made me appreciate being able to get in and do some bread baking. So, on Sunday in between a long hike and an evening in San Francisco, I happily spread out my mise en place on the kitchen counter, rolled up my sleeves (aka- put on my apron!) and did some baking. I’ll have some fresh baked scones to share over the weekend while I’m in New Orleans-that’s right lucky me- I’m going to see my San Francisco 49ers play in the Super Bowl! Now I’m just trying to decide if I should wear my lucky red and gold cowboy boots to the game and I think you know the answer to that is a resounding YES You Should!!!
Adapted from Modern Baker by Nick Malgieri.
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- 2 teaspoons fennel seeds, crushed
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
- 2/3 cup sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 3/4 cup milk
- 1 & 1/2 cups (8-9 ounces) stemmed and diced dried Mission figs
- 1 cup slivered almonds, lightly toasted
- Preheat the oven to 350F.
- Butter or spray a 9x5 loaf pan and line with parchment paper.
- Combine the flour, baking powder, salt and fennel seeds in a medium bowl and whisk together to mix.
- In the bowl of a standing mixer on medium speed beat together the butter and sugar until smooth.
- Beat in the eggs, one at a time.
- Beat 1/2 the flour mixture into the butter mixture and then gently beat in the milk, about 1/3 at a time.
- Beat in the remaining flour mixture on low speed.
- Fold in the figs and almonds with a rubber spatula.
- Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top.
- Bake the bread for about 1 hour or until a thin knife or toothpick inserted into the center or the bread comes out with a few dry crumbs attached.
- Cool the bread for about 5 minutes, remove from pan and continue cooling on a metal rack until completely cool before slicing.