Pan de higo is a traditional way to preserve figs for the cold winter months. The artisanal fig cake is a specialty of Jaen in Andalusia, and as it contains no flour, the cake will last a long time. This is such a traditional and amazing recipe we haven’t given it our usual twist – we’re just presenting it in its delicious simplicity. Pan de higo travels well, and is perfect for a Spanish-themed picnic; pack along with chorizo, manchego or garrotxa cheese, some crusty bread, and a bottle of Spanish wine.
1 pound dried figs
½ cup Marcona almonds
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
2 tablespoons sesame seeds
½ teaspoon anise seeds
Cinnamon, to taste
1 tablespoon honey
Brandy, as needed to bring the mix together
Toast the almonds and grind them in the food processor, pulsing gently until the almonds are chopped, but stop before they turn to a paste. They should be of varying sizes.
Clean the dried figs, removing the stems, and mince them in the food processor.
Mix the almonds with the figs, the ground cloves, the sesame seeds, anise seeds and a dash of cinnamon, to taste. Add the honey and just enough brandy to hold the mixture together, mixing well to evenly distribute the seeds and the liquid.
Lightly flour a clean counter and form the cake into a loaf shape or log shape. Place the pan de higo in a container with a weighted plate on top to compress it, and let stand in a cool dry place for several days to dry it out.
Slice the pan de higo and serve with slices of manchego cheese, or serve drizzled with honey. It’s also lovely with a glass of sherry.
Recipe and photo by Mark Tafoya