Lynn Ford often shares summer’s bounty of fresh figs with friends and neighbors. CONTRIBUTED BY LYNN FORD
Photo: Contributed by Lynn Ford
Photo: Contributed by Lynn Ford

Get a last bite of summer in the South with these fig recipes

‘Nature’s candy’ comes in handy for jam, scones, coffee cake or banana bread

Late summer is high season for figs in Georgia. Right now, you can find colorful pints of fresh figs on display at local farmers markets. And if you’re lucky, you may have a friend or neighbor with a mature fig tree bearing so much ripe fruit they need to share some of the bounty.

Common varieties grown in the state include the bronze Brown Turkey, greenish-brown Alma, light brown to violet Celeste, and greenish-yellow Kadota. According to the University of Georgia Cooperative Extension, they’re all good to excellent to eat fresh or preserved. And, of course, you can use figs to flavor and sweeten a variety of dishes and desserts.

Years ago, Lynn Ford planted a Brown Turkey fig tree near the driveway of her home near Chastain Park. Now it’s so tall she needs a ladder to harvest all the fruit it produces. But Ford likes to enjoy roasted figs as a salad topping or wrapped in bacon and roasted with an orange balsamic vinegar glaze.

“We bought the fig tree when Lucy’s Market was at her original location in a refurbished gas station on Roswell Road,” Ford recalls. “We just love putting anything unusual in our yard, and now it’s just become part of the landscape. My husband loved eating figs as a little boy, so he had a special place in his heart for them.”

Lynn Ford’s fig tree has grown tall in her Buckhead yard and yields a bounty of fruit in July and August. CONTRIBUTED BY LYNN FORD
Photo: Contributed by Lynn Ford

The weather this year has been especially good for figs, according to Ford, and good for her friends, too.

“Not only do I pick them and take them to friends, I always take some of the leaves, because they’re so pretty to serve with cheese,” she says. “At home, my son taught me to split them and bake them on a Trader Joe’s pizza with caramelized onions and Gruyere cheese. The other thing that’s delicious is baking figs folded with puff pastry and brie. I also dip them in a chocolate sauce that I make.”

“Decadent Fruit Desserts” by Jackie Bruchez (Page Street Publishing Co., 2019) includes a recipe for Fresh Fig Banana Bread. CONTRIBUTED
Photo: Contributed

In her cookbook “Decadent Fruit Desserts” (Page Street Publishing, $21.99), Jackie Bruchez’s homey and easy fig recipes include fig banana bread, and honey-roasted figs from her family’s fig tree.

“Like the book, ‘Blueberries for Sal,’ I often find my youngest son leaning against the trunk of the fig tree covered in sweet juice and eating his weight in fresh figs,” Bruchez writes. “He has become the master at picking the fruit at its prime. After my family has had their fill of the fresh figs, I begin picking them and turning them into something we can enjoy later.”

Another recent cookbook, “Baking at République” (Lorena Jones Books, $30) by Culinary Institute of America-trained pastry chef Margarita Manzke, offers some more sophisticated takes on baking with figs.

At Manzke’s celebrated République Cafe & Bakery in Los Angeles, you’ll find the likes of fig-tahini cookies and fig-raspberry coffee cake made with fig jam. But however you choose to eat them or cook with them, as Manzke writes in the intro to her recipe for fig-hazelnut scones, “figs are very soft and luscious.”

RECIPES

These recipes for cooking and baking with fresh figs include fig-raspberry coffee cake made with fig jam, fig-hazelnut scones, fig banana bread, and honey-roasted figs.

Fig Jam

“When figs are perfectly ripe, they’re like nature’s candy, and their rich, red fruit make for beautiful, deep-colored jam,” says Margarita Manzke in her cookbook “Baking at République.”

Reprinted with permission from “Baking at République” by Margarita Manzke, copyright © 2019. Published by Lorena Jones Books, a division of Penguin Random House Inc.

Fig-Raspberry Coffee Cake. Reprinted with permission from “Baking at République” by Margarita Manzke (Lorena Jones Books, 2019). CONTRIBUTED BY KRISTIN TEIG
Photo: Contributed by Kristin Teig

Fig-Raspberry Coffee Cake

“This isn’t a traditional coffee cake with a vein of streusel that runs through the middle,” Margarita Manzke says. “Instead of streusel, I prefer fruit and jam — so that it’s a seasonal coffee cake — but I do put streusel on top! And fresh fruit, too. When warm, the cream cheese with the fresh figs, jammy fruit, and streusel is especially delicious.”

Reprinted with permission from “Baking at République” by Margarita Manzke, copyright © 2019. Published by Lorena Jones Books, a division of Penguin Random House Inc.

Fig-Hazelnut Scones. Reprinted with permission from “Baking at République” by Margarita Manzke (Lorena Jones Books, 2019). CONTRIBUTED BY KRISTIN TEIG
Photo: Contributed by Kristin Teig

Fig-Hazelnut Scones

“These scones are especially good because the hazelnuts are caramelized, giving the dough a different flavor than what you get when using just toasted hazelnuts,” says Margarita Manzke.” And they’re also crunchier than toasted hazelnuts. In contrast, the figs are very soft and luscious.”

Reprinted with permission from “Baking at République” by Margarita Manzke, copyright © 2019. Published by Lorena Jones Books, a division of Penguin Random House, Inc.

Fresh Fig Banana Bread. Reprinted with permission from “Decadent Fruit Desserts” by Jackie Bruchez (Page Street Publishing Co., 2019). CONTRIBUTED BY JACKIE BRUCHEZ
Photo: Contributed by Jackie Bruchez

Fresh Fig Banana Bread

“For about a month every summer, our diets consist of sweet fresh figs and an abundance of fig-enhanced desserts and jams,” says Jackie Bruchez in her cookbook, “Decadent Fruit Desserts.” “Apart from the jars and jars of jam that I make, I usually make a few loaves of this delicious bread to freeze for quick snacks when the school year begins.”

Reprinted with permission from “Decadent Fruit Desserts” by Jackie Bruchez, Page Street Publishing Co., 2019.

Honey-Roasted Figs. Reprinted with permission from “Decadent Fruit Desserts” by Jackie Bruchez (Page Street Publishing Co., 2019). CONTRIBUTED BY JACKIE BRUCHEZ
Photo: Contributed by Jackie Bruchez

Honey-Roasted Figs

“Sometimes the best desserts are the simple ones where the ripe fruit can shine,” Jackie Bruchez says. “This is one of my favorite late summer/early fall desserts for guests. It is easy to make, beautiful when plated, and delicious.”

Reprinted with permission from “Decadent Fruit Desserts” by Jackie Bruchez, Page Street Publishing Co., 2019.

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