A Mediterranean loaf, inspired by a midnight feast scene in Nightwood Theatre’s production of The Penelopiad, starring Megan Follows.
3/4 cup (175 mL) sun-dried organic figs
2 blood oranges, juiced (regular oranges are fine too)
2 ¼ tsp (11 mL or 1 X 8-g packet) dried yeast
1 tsp (5 mL) raw honey
3 ½ cups (875 mL or 400 g) strong plain flour
2 tsp (10 mL) salt
1 tbsp (15 mL) olive oil, for brushing pan
5 tbsp (75 mL) walnut oil
1 stem fresh rosemary
2 tsp (10 mL) coarse sea salt
1 tbsp (15 mL) raw honey for glaze
Remove stems and slice the dried figs, place into a small bowl and combine with blood orange juice. Set aside.
Dissolve the yeast in ¼ cup (50 mL) warm water and stir in honey. Allow to stand, 10 minutes. Sift the flour into a large bowl, mix in the salt, make a well in the middle and add the yeast and 2 tbsp (30 mL) of the walnut oil. Mix and add enough warm water to make a dough.
Turn out dough onto a floured surface and knead, about 10 minutes, until smooth and elastic. Return to the cleaned bowl, cover with a cloth and leave to rise in a warm place for 2-2 ½ hours, until the dough has doubled in bulk.
Knock back the dough and knead again, a few minutes. Stretch into a rectangular form and spread half of the orange-juice-soaked figs onto the centre, fold front dough edge over to cover; then spread remaining figs on top, and pull the back edge of the dough over to cover them. Knead lightly to disperse figs throughout loaf, then reshape into circle large enough to fit tin. Press into a 25-cm/10-in tart pan brushed with olive oil and cover with a damp cloth or plastic wrap. Leave to rise, 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 200 C (400 F). Poke the dough all over with your finger to make indentations. Finely chop the fresh rosemary and combine in a small bowls or jug with the remaining 3 tbsp (45 mL) walnut oil. Brush rosemary oil over dough. Sprinkle with sea salt.
Bake for 20-25 minutes until the bread is a pale gold. Remove from oven five minutes before cooking time is over and brush with a glaze of 1 tbsp honey dissolved in 1 tbsp hot water. Return to oven. When finished baking, transfer to a wire rack to cool.
Best eaten warm, the same day as baking, with honey and soft goat cheese.