This Blackberry, Cinnamon and Fig Margarita is the perfect fall cocktail. With a delicious blend of sweet, sour and warm spice you won’t be able to resist them! They’re really simple to make, which is handy because everyone will be asking for refills! This Blackberry, Cinnamon and Fig Margarita is the perfect cocktail to serve this thanksgiving!
I know a lot of you are probably still lamenting the end of summer, but not me! Summer has it’s advantages; lovely fresh produce, long days, sunshine, and cocktails galore to name a few. But, as much as I love sunshine, I hate the heat. It does not agree with me! The sun may be hibernating more and more as we delve into autumn and the days are already getting much shorter but in return we get crisp air with cooler days and colourful foliage. And we may start saying goodbye to the strawberries and peaches of summer, but we can say a big hello to the blackberries and figs of autumn, and not to mention the absolutely gorgeous, warm spices that dominate this season. Yes, I think it’s safe to say that I am big fan out autumn. Especially because it means I can give my favourite summer cocktail an amazing autumn makeover with this delicious Blackberry, Cinnamon and Fig Margarita! Yum!
September is my favourite month (yes I know it’s October now, but shh). It’s the start of autumn, the weather is cool but sunny, there are warm spices wherever you turn. And figs come into season! I love figs a lot. It’s hard to get them fresh where I live though so I pounce on them whenever I get the chance. And when I was walking past the fruit market stalls in town last week and saw they had fresh figs – I went a bit crazy. I came home with over 1kg of fresh figs!
It’s time for European Cakes week of my GBBO challenge! Yay! And I made this fig and orange kugelhopf! A kugelhopf, or gugelhupf, is a yeast leavened cake usually filled with soaked dried fruit such as raisins or dates. I think it is Austrian, but also native to Germany and Hungary and it’s what inspired the American favourite – the bundt cake! I know what you’re probably thinking – but Michelle, why is the Great British Bake Off doing a European Cakes week? Isn’t that a bit redundant considering Britain is in Europe? Well, maybe. But one thing you should probably know about us Brits is we don’t really consider ourselves real Europe (I think some Brits like to think of us as our own continent sometimes!). Taking a day trip to France? You’re not just going to a neighbouring country, you’re going to “the continent” – it’s like we’re a little village on the outside of a big city! So when you hear Brits talking about “Europe” we most likely mean any European country that isn’t part of our Islands!
This cake was a bit of a challenge for me! This is my first time using yeast to leaven a cake and let me tell you, it’s made me appreciate baking powder a lot more! But this is the way they used to make cakes rise before such wonderful things like baking powder were invented, and Europe sure does love it’s traditions! My first attempt was a big failure, my dough just didn’t rise at all – I baked it anyway though to test the flavours and I ended up with a very dense, malt loaf kind of texture. The flavours were great though so at least I knew I had that part sussed. My mum, however, loved it and she ate almost the whole thing! Which was a little weird, but at least it didn’t go to waste! For my second attempt I tackled it from a different, more cake like way as the first time I treated it like a bread dough and mixed the ingredients as such. And it came out great!
As you might imagine, this cake has more of a fruit bread texture than a cake texture, but it is very light. It’s great eaten warm, fresh from the oven and would be yummy with afternoon tea. It’s also wonderful toasted and eaten for breakfast, it would be amazing with my cinnamon honey butter generously spread on it. This kugelhopf is stuffed full of orange zest and dried figs, the dried figs were soaked in orange juice and spiced rum overnight. I then saved the liquid from that to make a honeyed syrup that I cooked fresh figs and orange segments in to decorate the top, and poured the syrup over the warm cake. There were so many warm, yummy flavours coming from this cake – it’s a definite winner. It’s a bit of long winded process to make this cake but I think it’s worth it, you can however speed up the process a little and I’ll explain how in the notes after the recipe.
When I think of Figs I think of my days at University and eating my body weight in Jacob’s Fig Rolls while I wrote last minute essays at 3am and somehow that still brings back warm and fond memories! Despite my love of figs I have never actually baked with them and when I came to that realisation I decided I had to fix that fast!
These fig bars aren’t your typical fig rolls (or fig newtons as they’re called in the US), they’re so much better! They have a pastry like crust then lots of yummy fig filling and have an nutty, oaty topping. I made these with dried figs as they don’t really come into season until Autumn and they’re hard to find when they are in season due to their short shelf life, besides you’re going to be cooking them down so I would recommend dried figs either way to keep the moisture. If you don’t want to make the filling yourself you can always use a fig butter or jam, I’ve heard good things about it if you get it from Trader Joe’s (for you American folk) so I’m sure they’ll be just as yummy. However if you do it like that they may be a little on the overly sweet side!
My favourite thing about these is the secret ingredient, orange! It really brings out the flavour of the figs and although it’s not a necessary ingredient I wouldn’t omit it, it brings them to a whole new level of tastiness! One of the great things about this fig bar recipe though is they’re so easy to make, they do require baking in stages but it’s so simple to do you won’t mind. And you can make the fig filling while the crust bakes, then you just quickly whip up the crumbly topping, sprinkle it on top and stick them in the oven for 15 minutes. It takes about 45 minutes start to finish! You will want to let them cool before you eat them though, as hard as that may be, that filling is going to be very hot!
[recipe title=”Fig Bars”]
For the crust:
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup caster sugar
1/4 tsp vanilla
1 cup plain flour
For the filling:
1/4 cup caster sugar
Juice from 1 orange
1 cup boiling water (you will not need the whole cup)
9oz dried mission figs, chopped
For the topping:
1/4 cup plain flour
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
3 tbsp cold butter
1/4 cup quick cooking oats
1/4 cup walnuts, chopped
Zest of 1 orange
Preheat over to 350F/170C. Grease and line a 9″ square pan.
For the crust, beat together the butter, sugar and vanilla on a medium speed until combined. On a low speed, beat in the flour until a soft dough forms. Press the dough into the bottom of the pan and bake for approx 15 minutes, until the centre is set and it is just turning a light golden colour
While the crust is baking, make the filling. Pour the juice of the orange into a measuring jug and fill up with boiling water until you reach 1 cup.
In a small saucepan heat all the filling ingredients over a medium/high heat for about 10 minutes, stirring frequently until figs are tender and most of the liquid is absorbed. Don’t be afraid to cook it for longer is need be, you want a jam like consistency, just make sure you keep stirring so it doesn’t burn. Spread it over the cooked crust and set aside.
Now make the topping. In a small bowl mix the flour, brown sugar and butter using a fork or pastry blender until you have a crumbly streusel like texture. Stir in the oats, walnuts and orange zest. Sprinkle over the filling.
Bake for 15-20 minutes until the filling is bubbling and the top is golden brown. Leave to cool completely before cutting into bars.
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