When thinking about a home made cake for the holidays, figs often spring to mind, thanks to the Christmas carol, 'We Wish You A Merry Christmas,' which mentions 'figgy pudding,' an early form of the now ubiquitous Christmas pudding fruit cake. Figs are associated with Christmas and other traditionally religious festivals, as they were allowed during religious fasts, such as Advent and Lent. Originally from the Middle East, figs are full of seeds on the inside, perhaps the reason they are also celebrated as fertility symbols, and have a unique fleshy texture.
My version of the Christmas figgy pudding is the fig bar with oats. Not quite a home made cake, but they taste equally scrumptious and are certainly fruity enough to be festive. I have added lemon zest in the fig filling for the recipe below, and I love bold taste it lends to the sweet dried figs. I have also used wholemeal flour, but plain flour would work equally well.
My boys both love this treat, especially J, who has dubbed this the 'crunchy fig,' due to the texture of the baked oats! The blend of all the textures and flavours is what makes these fig bars so delightful - just sweet enough without being cloying. Not only for the festive period, these are good enough to enjoy any time of year. And if anyone comes knocking to demand some 'figgy pudding,' I'll be ready. ;-)
250g dried figs, stems removed and chopped in half
1 Tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice (of about half a lemon)
1 tsp lemon zest (from about half a lemon)
130g rolled oats
125g flour (I used wholemeal)
100g light muscovado sugar
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/8 tsp salt
75g unsalted butter, melted, plus extra for greasing
1 egg white