One of our kids has become obsessed with fig bars, and he’s been carrying one to school every day for snack. After several weeks of bringing in pre-packaged, store-bought fig bars – and after seeing fresh figs at the farmers’ market – he decided that we should make our own.
So we looked up a recipe (a wonderful recipe from Metropolitan Bakery) and proceeded to follow it as per usual. But when it came to the part about how to form and roll the fig bars, he balked. “It says to put the fig filling down the middle, and then roll both sides of the dough up so they overlap in the center,” he said. “But then when you slice it into pieces, you’re going to have two layers of dough in the middle of the fig bar, and that’s going to be too dry and bread-y.”
I tried to explain to him that the recipe was tried and tested, and it should taste just as good as any fig bar he’d have. But he insisted he knew of a better way. So I did the best thing I could think of as a parent – I stepped away and let him take charge of forming the fig bars.
I watched him carefully put dollops of fig filling on the rolled-out dough, as if he were about to make ravioli. (Clearly, this was a man with a plan.) Then he took a pizza cutter and expertly cut rectangular shapes around the fig filling. And then he gently folded over the plain side on top of the filling and pressed the edges of the long seam together.
I grudgingly admitted that it looked perfectly fine, although I had some concern that the fig filling would leak out in the oven. And then… it didn’t. What we had instead were perfectly delicious, perfectly folded fig bars, without a “dough-y” center seam. Just right for a kid.
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- ¼ teaspoon baking soda
- ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ¼teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ cup (1 stick) plus 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- ½ cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
- 1 large egg
- 1 cup dried Calimyrna figs, stems removed
- ½ cup water
- ¼ cup raspberry preserves
- Juce and grated zest of 1 small lemon
- 2 T. milk
- 1 egg white
- 1 T. granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. In the bowl of a heavy duty mixer with a paddle attachment, beat the butter and brown sugar. Add in the egg and vanilla. With the mixer at low speed, gradually add the flour mixture into the butter mixture until combined (dough will be stiff). Remove the dough from the bowl and shape into a rectangle. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate 1 hour or overnight.
- Place the figs and the water into a small saucepan and heat to a simmer. Continue simmering for 10 more minutes. Pour fig-water mixture into a food processor and combine with the raspberry preserves and the lemon juice and lemon zest. Puree until evenly smooth.
- On a lightly floured surface, roll dough into a 24 x 6 inch rectangle that is about ½ inch thick. Place the filling in tablepoon-sized dollops about 4 inches apart on the surface of the dough. Using a pizza cutter, cut the dough into rectangles, leaving a large unfilled space next to each dollop of filling. Gently fold over the unfilled dough half on top of the filled dough half, and press the edges down to seal.
- In a small cup, combine the milk and egg white. Brush the mixture over the top of each fig bar, then sprinkled with the granulated sugar. Carefully place the bars on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes, or until light golden brown.
Note: We used raspberry jam for these, but you could use any kind of jam. Strawberry is an easy substitution; blueberry is a guaranteed blast of flavor; apricot is one of my personal favorites. How about this? Let the kids decide. They probably know best.