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Author Notes: 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
- 12 ounces dried Mission (or another type, dried) figs (stemmed and halved)
- 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
- 13 ounces water
- 3 1/2 cups bread flour
- 1 teaspoon SAF Red yeast
- 1 tablespoon fine sea salt
- 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.