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Off the Shelf: Caramel Fig Loaf

This fantastic recipe for quick bread comes from Donna Hay's Off the Shelf . The deep brown sugar flavors meld beautifully with the musky sweetness of dried figs. It's very good, and would be delicious for Christmas brunch.

The recipe calls for demerara sugar, a less-refined type of brown sugar. If you can't find demerara sugar, use turbinado sugar, which is widely available in grocery stores. Don't substitute regular brown sugar.

Hay also uses golden syrup, a common product in the U.K. and Australia/New Zealand. If you have a specialty market that caters to British expats in your area, you might be able to find golden syrup. If you can't find it, substitute Karo Brown Sugar corn syrup.

I made a couple of changes to the fruit; the original recipe says to slice the figs, but I found that simply slicing them left the pieces too big. Chopping them into smaller pieces made the bread easier to slice and eat. I've also reduced the amount of figs, since the original 8 oz. was overwhelming. I used dried Mission figs, which taste fantastic.

The bread can be made 1 day ahead. It's particularly nice if toasted, so if you're serving it for brunch, slice it and then toast the slices in a toaster oven, or on a rack in the oven for a few minutes before serving.

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 50 to 60 minutes
Yield: 10 to 12 slices

4 oz. butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup demerara or turbinado sugar
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 cup golden syrup or brown sugar corn syrup
4 to 5 oz. soft dried figs, chopped

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Spray a 8-by-4-inch loaf pan with nonstick spray.

Beat the butter and sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer until light and creamy. Add eggs and beat well.

In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, and cinnamon. Add the flour mixture and the golden syrup to the butter mixture. Stir with a wooden spoon until the flour is all moistened, then stir in the figs. Spoon the batter into the prepared pan and spread evenly (it's a thick batter, so get it as even as you can, but don't fret if it's not completely even or smooth). Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean, 50 to 60 minutes. Cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes, then invert the loaf out of the pan and continue to cool on the rack. Slice and serve, or wrap tightly in plastic and store at room temperature for up to 1 day.



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