Settembrini… getting figgy with it

One day I will have a garden with trees. Orange and lemon trees. Olive trees. And a fig tree. Years ago I visited the island of Ponza with a friend, whose grandmother still lived on the island. In her garden was a massive fig tree and we picked figs and ate them whole, they were so sweet and jammy.

In a desperate fit of trying to cling on to summer, I bought some figs at the weekend. Not a patch on the beautiful ones in Italy, these seemed to be very ripe very quickly. I happened upon a recipe for Settembrini on La Cucina Italiana’s twitter page.

You will, of course, notice the striking similarity to the good old British fig roll, which has something of an old lady reputation. But now they have a nice sunny, glamorous Italian name and I have figs about to turn!

I’m immediately struck by the lack of formality in the recipe. It’s more like someone describing how to make them to you over the phone. I’m used to nice strict lists of ingredients and method.

I decide to approach it in a similarly laid back style.

The dough is a slightly unusual biscuit dough. Flour, sugar, butter, an egg, milk. But also cornflour. And hazelnut flour. Which I didn’t have. But this is a super casual recipe, I thought. I found ground almonds and in they went.

A smidge more flour than was called for got it from cake batter to a vague dough. It then needs to be left in the fridge.

When I came back to it, it had indeed formed a firm and pleasantly smooth and scented dough. But it remains in the fridge while we make our filling.

Around 300g of figs, peeled go into a pan with 30g of sugar and the zest of a lemon. This is then put on a low heat until it becomes thick and jammy. Again the recipe calls for a small amount of hazelnut flour, so again, the ground almonds were called into action. You then leave it to cool. It’s delicious. Very fruity and the lemon gives it a bit of zip so it’s not too sweet.

While the filling was cooling, I rolled out the tough. Being cold it was tough at first but once it got going, it was fine. The dough is rolled and cut into rectangular strips about 8-10cm wide and no more than .5cm thick. I then ran the rolling pin down each long edge to flatten it a bit more, so when you roll them up the bottom isn’t too thick.

Put a layer of the filling down the middle – don’t go overboard or they will be hard to close up. Fold one side over the filling, then the other. You may need to slightly stretch with your fingers as you go, and then ensure that it is closed all the way along.

I made three “rolls”, wrapped each in baking parchment and popped them on a tray in the fridge to chill down again, so they are easy to cut. An hour later, out they come. I cut the ends of each roll off to neaten them and then cut each into around 2cm pieces.

These pieces go on a baking tray and into a pre- warmed oven at 180 for (the recipe says) 15 minutes. After the time had passed, mine still were pale but another 10 minutes and they were golden.

Not sausage rolls

The recipe makes a delicious soft biscuit, with the crunch coming from the small seeds in the figgy filling. If you’re after a crisp, snappy biscuit, this isn’t the recipe that you’re looking for. but these are well worth a try.

The recipe can be found here:

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