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Fennel Fig & Almond Bread

Posted by Sara

The first recipe in the Modern Baker challenge is Fennel Fig and Almond Bread. While apparently the idea of this doesn’t appeal to everyone, being a big fan of figs, as well as fennel, I was pretty excited. (Dried figs are a big drain on my grocery budget, in fact). I usually just eat my figs straight and haven’t really cooked much with them. (I’ve seen tons of recipes that call for dried figs, but given that 10oz goes for at least 4$, I never found one that sounded better than eating them out of hand).

Step one is to crush the fennel. I got out my mortar and pestle, which made fairly easy work of that.

Then the figs are chopped.

Things then proceed rather typically for a quick bread. Being so accustomed to yeast-risen breads (not just the time required for rising but also the time spent kneading), for me, the rest of the process went really fast.

I have to say the batter (“bread” or not, it was more batter than dough) was not all that attractive right before it went in the oven.

But it took on a lovely brown hue in the oven.

Verdict: worth the figs! I don’t like all quick breads–oftentimes to me, they are overstuffed with too many pieces of fruit or nuts (or both), with a sort of cloyingly sweet, slightly damp and syrupy veneer in lieu of a crust.* (I know this might be strange, considering I wouldn’t say the same of coffee cakes or sweet rolls, and quick breads which essentially serve the same purpose). Maybe I’m just a “yeast” snob. This bread was only mildly sweet, and with much of it provided by the bursts of fig flavor, which I obviously liked. I think the fennel ensured the bread had some depth of flavor, rather than just a bland sweetness.

One question that arose as I made this–I noticed Nick Malgieri does not call for the eggs to be at room temperature (there’s nothing specified, in fact, regarding their temperature), which I am so accustomed to seeing. Is this part of being a “modern” baker? I have always understood that you can’t successfully cream butter and eggs when they are straight out of the fridge, but has NM figured out this is one of those steps that is not really necessary? Are we upending years of baking canon here?

*Actually the worst example of this to me is store-bought, processed muffins. What IS that?



1. chayacomfycook - May 9, 2010

I ended up making major changes since neither fennel nor figs was going to be eaten in our house. Regardless, this is a delicious bread and was enjoyed. It would not have gotten baked if not for the original recipe.


2. Nick Malgieri - April 26, 2010

That’s one of my favorite quick breads and your comment about its being a batter and not a dough is right on… As for the temperature of the eggs, it’s not critical here only because the amount of butter isn’t nearly as high as it would be in a cake. Thanks for your beautiful interpretation of the recipe.

3. Petra - April 24, 2010

This bread is fantastic. I am amazed that bread after bread is a success in the taste department so far. Here is my blog about it.

4. Kayte - April 22, 2010
5. AnneMarie - April 11, 2010

I am so glad that someone was a fan of the fig fennel combination.

I always bring my eggs to room temperature and my butter as well. Maybe he thought that any one willing to take on the fig fennel challenge would bring everything to room temp.

Anne Marie

6. ap269 - April 8, 2010

My take on fennel fig & almond bread: http://wp.me/pv1QP-yR.

7. Rebecca - April 2, 2010

Ooh! I love figs. This bread sounds terrific. And congratulations on the first post of the new challenge! I’m sorry to say I won’t be joining you on this journey, but I’ve loved baking with everyone for the #bba challenge and you can bet I’ll dip in from time to time to see what you’re up to and bake the ones that sound irresistible – like this one!

Have a blast!

8. ap269 - April 2, 2010

Nice write-up! I already commented on the original site, as far as the eggs at room temperature are concerned…

9. Nancy (n.o.e.) - April 1, 2010

mmm, I love figs, too, and can’t wait to bake this one! Great job kicking off the challenge.

10. gaaarp - April 1, 2010

Wahoo! Our first post! Great write-up. And I’m glad it was by someone who is passionate about figs. I, too, really enjoyed this bread. It has me looking forward to the rest of the Challenge.

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