Dried figs are very healthy snacks. A cup of figs will give as much calcium as a cup of milk. Besides being rich in calcium, they are also high in dietary fiber and contain other minerals such as iron, potassium, omega-3 and omega-6 essential fatty acids. I used to eat quite a fair bit of dried figs when I was pregnant, they are really a good alternative source of calcium since I didn't really like milk.
I didn't know that dried figs could be added to muffins until I came across this recipe from a cookbook, Muffins by Williams-Sonoma. It didn't take me too long to get a pack of dried figs to try it out.
Unlike most muffin recipes where dried fruits are simply added to the batter, this recipe recommended that the dried figs be soaked in a mixture of orange zest, apple juice and melted butter for an hour. This softened the dried figs and turned them into a rich mahogany colour. When the muffins were still baking in the oven, my kitchen was filled with this sweet and enticing "perfume" of dried figs. The pleasant aroma lingered till the muffins were completely cooled. The muffins were a little on the sweet side (although I did cut down on the sugar a little), mainly due to the figs. My little one though I have added in a candy in the muffins ! The texture was a little dense, but overall the taste was really delicious. Definitely a wholesome and healthy bake, good for breakfast or as tea-time snacks.
(makes 11 muffins)
375g dried figs
90g unsalted butter
250ml apple juice
grated zest of 1 orange
315g plain flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
125g granulated sugar
60g dark brown sugar
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract/essence
- Remove the stem and cut dried figs into quarters.
- Heat apple juice and butter in a saucepan over low heat until the butter is melted.
- Remove from heat and add in the figs and orange zest. Leave to cool until the figs are softened, about 1 hour.
- Preheat oven to 190 degC. Grease muffin cups with butter or line with muffin liners.
- In a mixing bowl, stir together the flour, granulated sugar, brown sugars, salt and baking powder.
- Make a well in the centre and add the cooled fig mixture, eggs and vanilla. Stir until just combined. Do not overmix, the batter will be slightly lumpy.
- Spoon batter into muffin cups, filling to the rim of the cup.
- Bake for 20 ~ 25 mins, until golden, and toothpick inserted into the centre comes out clean. Transfer muffin pan to cooling rack and let cool for 5 mins. Unmold the muffins and let cool completely.