Part one: The office
I’ve been in my new job for six months now, which means I probably can’t keep referring to it as “new”. I love it for many reasons. But after spending the first two months of the year freelancing in the wilderness (aka Wood Green Library), the main reason is that I get to go into an office every day and talk to people.
One of the things we talk about is fruit.
“Have you ever had a tomato? What about a kiwi? NEVER? That’s extraordinary!”
Grapes are now a regular feature on our editorial table, and every now and then something new and exciting appears “as a special treat”. A couple of weeks ago, it was figs.
“What do you MEAN you’ve never had a fig? You should have one right now! This is so exciting!”
Readers, I am no longer afraid of fruit. Ignore the job thing – THAT is the real achievement of 2015. So when my boss gleefully watched me pick up and inspect a fig, I did not feel the flutter of fear (read: absolute terror) I would have experienced in January. I just felt curious, and a little entertained at the spectacle I was making of myself (again).
“What do you do with it? Do you eat the skin? Is there a stone I could accidentally choke on?”
“Just eat it!”
I took a bite, trying to ignore the unpleasant skin fuzz and the grainy seeds inside (texture is still the biggest fruity problem I face, I think). My eyebrows shot up.
“It’s so pink inside!”
For such a boring looking fruit, figs are rather spectacular in the middle, all fuchsia flesh spilling everywhere. I was vaguely alarmed. Figs may represent “wealth” in the Bible (apparently), but let’s not forget that “split fig” scene in Angela Carter, which was about, well, something else.
In the end, I decided I quite liked the taste – nothing too sharp or sour here – but the texture left a lot to be desired. Still, sometimes that is easily fixed by baking it into a cake…
Part two: Figgy pudding
Not that it’s officially autumn (boo) when I get home from work it is no longer daytime (double boo). So that means the photography style of Amy vs Fruit is about to plummet. Not that it was ever that slick to begin with.
But regardless! My zesty spirit of adventure will keep you all hooked, I’m sure.
This week, as if you didn’t already know, was the finale of the Great British Bake Off.
Nadiya, you absolute queen.
To celebrate the TV event of the year, I decided to bake for the office. We have all bonded over our mutual love of anyone-but-Ian, so it seemed like a good way to mark the occasion.
I decided them with this fig and butter traybake.
I wasn’t entirely convinced it would work, but I was pretty low on time and it seemed like a quick recipe which used ingredients I already had in the cupboard – apart from buttermilk, which I substituted by adding a little bit of lemon to regular milk. Who needs to plan ahead when you can google shortcuts later?
Step one: Line your baking tray with butter and grease-proof paper.
Step two: Chop your figs into threes, and artfully arrange them in tray, face down.
Step three: Cream together butter, sugar, eggs, buttermilk (or, in my case, a lemony substitute), oil, vanilla essence, baking powder and a bit of salt as the recipe directs. This was basically impossible to do by hand. NONE of those things wanted to blend together until I helped them along with an eclectic mixer.
Step four: Fold in flour by hand, and pour your mixture over the top of the figs.
Step five: BAKE!
Step six: Remove from the oven. Our stupid oven took twice the time to cook. In theory, you should leave to cool for five minutes, then flip, and the figs look all cool and shiny on top of the cake. In reality, the figs sort of floated to the top of the mixture and it looked incredibly gross.
I wasn’t initially convinced, but Hattie ate two slices at 1am so they must have been pretty good.