Challenging Elements: Figs

Published on: September 20th, 2010

While most people would know that a fig is a fruit, they might not be able to pick a fresh one out of a lineup. “My only exposure to them was through Fig Newtons,” said chef Linda Wiletto, owner of Indulge Bakery. She’s not alone.

While the ubiquitous cookie—er, fruit and cake—has made figs famous, they’re hardly a household commodity in unadulterated form. Though they should be, as they are tender, sweet and easy to eat. Wiletto was happy to try her hand at incorporating them into one of her delicious baked treats for our challenge.

All in all, she told us she made nearly 10 batches of different things in her 24-hour test period, but it was a bit old hat for her, as she was a research and development chef for the company Vie de France before opening her own bakery four years ago. After trying several different fillings and several vehicles for the fillings, she and her staff settled on an orange fig filling that called for the juice and zest of the orange to be boiled with brown sugar and honey before the figs are added. They had baked it into bar form, but the morning of the challenge, she awoke at 4am with an “Aha!” moment.

That moment spelled out Danishes. With only a few hours before our arrival, she turned out a batch of soft, flaky Danishes filled with the orange fig mixture. She passed them around to her staff and even invited a regular customer back to taste-test, and they all agreed: the Danishes were a hit.

Topped with a gorgeous slice of fresh fig, these Danishes hit with a strong orange aroma, the more mellow fig flavor filling in afterward.

“We really thought the soft dough complimented the flavor of the figs and let it shine through,” Wiletto told us. The Danishes were boldly fruity and not overly sweet, calling out for a cup of coffee and the Sunday crossword.
As her background clearly shows, Wiletto loves to tinker in the kitchen, and while her latest passion is for sculptural cakes and intricate decorating, it’s clear she finds pleasure testing out any new recipe—much to our delight.

The fig orange Danishes will be available at Indulge Bakery—at 1377 Forest Park Circle, Suite 102, Lafayette— through September. Call 303.926.1676 or visit indulgebakery.com for more information.

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