Figgy & Cheesy

Back in June, when my sister and her family came to visit, one of the pleasures we indulged in was cooking together – something we hadn’t done in nearly a decade or more. So, when we had our usual Friday pizza night, she opted to show me one of her family’s favourite pizzas made by a local Italian eatery back in their hometown in the USA. It was made with fig jam (of which I happened to have some homemade from my own figs), caramelsed onion and goat cheese. All I can say, it is so good that we’ve added it to our regular repertoire ever since their visit.

I have seen many recipes out there for fig and goat cheese pizza, focaccia or flatbread with caramelised onions. Most use slices of fresh figs – which can only be made in the fleeting fig season. Plenty of recipes add bacon, proscuitto or other hammy-like products. Arugala or (as we call it here in the UK) rocket, and pine nuts are also natural additions. Some few recipes use dried figs, but essentially soak the figs and convert them into a jam-like paste. Using fig jam (preferably homemade made with fresh figs) is a better – fresher – alternative to those dried figs. Also, in defense of jam, it isn’t as juicy as fresh figs which can lead to a soggy dough, and it is available year round unlike the highly seasonal fruit. In addition, jam adds a contrasting sweetness to the acidic balsamic soaked onions and the creamy-tart cheese.

Here, I’ve translated the flavours into small bites – crostini – to whet the appetite or simply served with a green salad and a chilled glass of wine for a light supper. We like it this way as well.

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Fig, Caramalised Onion & Goat Cheese Crostini
By all means, make a pizza with the ingredients – the same except the dough is used for 4 individual pizza bases rather than pre-baked into baguettes.

baguettes

Sourdough Baguettes
First make your baguettes, or skip this step if you are using store-bought bread. You will need one baguette, although this recipe makes 4. The remaining three can be wrapped, refrigerated or frozen for future uses.

  • 200g sourdough starter (100% hydration)
  • 200g (ml) tepid water
  • 540g strong bread flour
  • 4g sea salt
  • olive oil

Measure out the freshly fed sourdough starter and mix in the water. You will see bubbles forming. Next add the flour and salt. Mix with a spoon, a plastic scraper or your hands until the flour has been mixed in. Let it sit for about 10 minutes to half an hour so that the flour can become completely hydrated.

Tip the sticky dough out onto a floured board and lift, stretch and fold the dough, turning it a quarter way each time you do this. Eventually, the dough will become quite elastic and loose some of its stickiness. Place back into a cleaned and oiled bowl. Cover and let it rise for about 6 hours or overnight.

Remove the dough from the bowl by pulling and stretching each quarter and folding it into the middle. Place on a lightly floured board and cut into 4 pieces and shape into baguettes.

Let rest on a floured tea towel or directly in your baguette pan while your oven gets up to temperature – 220 degrees C, fan assisted. When the oven is hot, bake the baguettes for about 15 minutes. Let them completely cool on a wire rack before cutting for crostini. In fact, it is preferable to make the baguettes a day before you want to make the crostini.

The Crostini
Using one baguette from the recipe above, or substitute good quality store-bought.

  • 1 baguette
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • Pinch of sea salt

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C (about 350 degrees F). Take your baguette and diagonally cut into slices approximately 1/2 to 1cm thick. Remove the end pieces and use these for making breadcrumbs. 

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On flat baking trays, lay the bread slices and, using a pastry brush, lightly dot with olive oil. Sprinkle lightly with sea salt.

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Bake in oven for about 7 minutes. They will just be taking on a little golden colour. Take out of the oven and flip over. Dot the second side with oil and return to the oven for another 7 minutes. They should be light golden brown when finished. Timing depends on the thickness of your slices – the thinner ones will require less time.

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Remove from the oven and let them cool on their baking trays. They will continue to crisp while cooling.

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The Finished Product
Putting it all together.

  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 large onion (yellow or red)
  • 1 Tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • The toasted crostini slices
  • Approximately 3 Tablespoons fig jam
  • 120g goat cheese

First caramelise the onions. Cut the onions in half and then in thin half-moon slices. Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan on medium high heat. Add the onion slices, breaking them up with a wooden spoon. Stirring occassionally, sautée the onions until they begin to take on a hint of a golden colour. Add the balsamic vinegar and stir until the liquid has evaporated. Turn off heat.

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Assemble the crostini by placing them on a baking tray. Spread a small amount of fig jam on top of each. Spoon a small amount of onion on this and then top with a slice of goat cheese.

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Place in the baking tray in the oven or under the grill and let the goat cheese begin to melt and develop golden spots. Remove and serve the crostini.

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21 comments

  1. What a fab idea- I can see how well these flavours match and will give them a go over the coming season. ( one of our celebrity chefs here in Melbourne, George Colombaris, serves a figgy jam sauce with fried saganaki- It works so well).
    Are you there yet?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Francesca, we arrived yesterday. and are still getting settled in. our taxi driver from the airport was an Australian Greek from Sydney. It is a small world! it is the end of fig season here, so I am hoping to make fig jam – first cooking. post from Athens, perhaps. meanwhile, I have a few “packed” posts ready to fill in the gaps. are you back in Australia? I need to catch up with the posts from my favourite bloggers.

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    • It is a great combo. Am also feeling the stress of unpacking – suitcases now, boxes later when they arrive. However, it is good to finally get here. Tiring, but exciting at the same time. As they say here, σιγά σιγά (“slowly slowly”) things will get done. Friday is our local market day and I will look for figs.

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  2. I’m starting to drool just reading this post! These little things look amazing 🙂 I wish I had one in my hand right now haha I will have to keep this recipe in mind for future get-togethers with friends!

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    • It is a very good recipe to have up your sleeve. Just found some late figs in the market. Looks like jam making is on the cards for this weekend. I hope you get figs, too! Very satisfying making the jam with the things you grow.

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