My grandpa was an amazing gardener and his pride and joy was the prolific fig tree that grew on the edge of his land. I could sit under it for hours and eat figs until I thought I’d burst. This bread is an homage to him and those little gems I grew up on. - Michael Gassen —Noe Valley Bakery
dried Mission (or another type, dried) figs (stemmed and halved)
In a medium bowl stir figs, water, olive oil and salt until the figs are well coated with the liquid. In a small bowl stir the flour, yeast and salt.
Add the dry ingredients to the figs and using clean hands, stir together until the flour is incorporated and is a shaggy mass of dough. Put the dough into a lightly oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place for 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Refrigerate the dough until it has firmed up a bit, is less sticky and easier to handle, about 1 hour. (The dough can be kept in the refrigerator overnight. Let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes to warm up slightly before continuing with the recipe.)
Remove from the refrigerator and turn dough out onto a lightly floured work surface. Divide the dough into 2 equal pieces and let rise covered, for 30 to 60 minutes, depending on the warmth of the kitchen.
Form each dough portion into oblong or round loaves and place them on a generously floured work surface (away from drafts) or a baking sheet. Cover with a clean kitchen towel or plastic wrap and let rise at warm room temperature until the dough increases in size by half, 2 to 3 hours.
While the dough is rising, preheat an oven with a baking stone to 425°F. (The baking stone needs to be preheated for at least 1 hour.) Just before baking put a shallow casserole or roasting pan on the bottom of the oven. When the dough has risen, place the loaves on a lightly floured oven peel. Spray generously with water using a spray bottle. Pour 3 cups of cold water into the casserole or roasting pan and slide the loaves from the peel onto the baking stone. Bake until they’re a rich brown color, 36 to 40 minutes.
Remove from the oven and let cool completely on a rack. Store the bread in plastic bags or a special “bread bag” on the counter for 1 week. It can also be refrigerated for that time as well. It can also be frozen for up to 2 months.