Last week I spotted a gigantic purple fig hiding amongst the leaves in one of our potted plants. Kel and I watched its progress carefully; we didn’t want to let this one go to the deer or raccoons. At last, on Monday evening, we determined that the fig was ready. I gently pulled it off of the branch and cradled its still warm body in my hand. With reverence, Kel handed me his pocket knife and I carefully sliced the fig in two – releasing, as I did, a flurry of tiny winged creatures into the evening air…
Now, I know that some vegans do not eat figs because there are insects that use the tender interior of the fig to lay eggs (come on – we all know they’re in there munching away, too!) and not wanting to harm these delicate creatures, these vegans shun this plump and sensual fruit. Should I stop eating whole grains and flours because of the hordes of desiccated bug carcasses that are buried within? To these vegans I respectfully say: perhaps you have never experienced a soft, sweet, warm-off-of-the-tree fig; you should try one. I admit that I was momentarily put off by the sight of the swarm of fruit flies hastily exiting the belly of the fruit (I imagined that my face was the Death Star and inside of the fig could be heard that sexy-computer voice urging the flies to abort the mission: “The mother fig will self-destruct in 10, 9, 8…“) But I persevered and now the fig is just a pleasant taste memory.
Here is the fig, in its natural habitat, just days before eating:
Here’s the same fig just before it met its noble destiny in the form of my mouth:
And so now we move on to the dried variety of figs – and the wonderful thing they can do for little cakes (baked in my recently acquired hamburger bun pan from King Arthur Flour…). Insects included at no extra charge.
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Oil-free Banana Fig Cakes with Date-Coconut Drizzle
Makes 6 small cakes
1 cup dried figs
~1 cup boiling water
3 large, very, very ripe bananas, mashed
1/2 cup nut milk
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1/4 cup natural peanut butter
1/4 cup maple sugar
1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. stevia powder
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. salt
1/3 walnuts, chopped
Preheat the oven to 350F and lightly oil a 6-cup mini-cake pan (or use a 12-cup muffin tin or a loaf pan).
In a small bowl, soak the figs in enough boiling water to cover and let soak for about 30 minutes. Drain the figs and coarsely chop.
In another small bowl, bananas, nut milk, vanilla, peanut butter, and maple sugar. Set aside.
In a large bowl, combine the flours, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, salt, and stevia powder. Stir in the wet ingredients and mix until thoroughly combined – then stir in the figs and nuts. Divide the batter among the mini-cake tins. Bake the cakes for about 30-35 minutes. Let cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then remove to a wire rack to cool completely.
Divide date-coconut drizzle on the cakes and serve.
Makes ~1/3 cup
1/4 cup dates (about 6), soaked, drained, and chopped
1/4 cup water (+ more for thinning if needed)
2 tbsp. virgin coconut oil
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
Place all ingredients in a blender and process until smooth. You want a drizzlable consistency, so add water as necessary. Make this oil-free by omitting the coconut oil and using less water. The drizzle won’t firm up as much as it sits, but it will be just as tasty.