Before I get started with this recipe, two quick announcements: I will be returning to posting once a week for now but will go back to twice a week when we hit the holiday season in November.
Be sure and check out the details of my culinary trip to Tuscany next spring. I would love for you to join me! You can read about it here: Culinary trip to Tuscany
On to my Quick Bread:
Today is Labor Day: along with Memorial Day, it is one of Summer’s bookends.
But while today is 85 degrees and sunny, I can see the end of the season in the soft golden light and hear it in the constant buzz and hum of cicadas. Gardens are reaching the end of their production. The tomato vines are heavy with fruit as their leaves brown and drop. And for a week now, children have gathered at the end of the road to wait for the school bus.
In England, the hedgerows will be laden with blackberries. Not the huge, seedy berries we get here, but small, wild, berries, warmed by the sun and sweet to the tongue. When we lived there it was a tradition for me to take my children down to the fields of a nearby manor house where we would fill buckets with blackberries to be turned into jam and shared with our neighbors.
So, to celebrate the beginning of September I created this late harvest quick bread, pairing two of the joys of the season in a purple tinged blackberry and fig quick bread to be enjoyed in the morning with your coffee, or in the afternoon with your tea!
In my refrigerator, I had some blackberries which were soaking in a sweet basil syrup. The blackberries are softened by this process and their flavor is intensified and complimented by the basil and sweet wine of the syrup.
There was also a box of figs which I am unable to resist when they appear in the markets.
Rather than cut the blackberries in half, I mashed them with a little sugar so the flavor would spread throughout the bread, along with the lovely purple color. The bread will be moist and a little crunchy from the blackberry seeds. That’s how you know it’s real!
I beat the eggs, some more sugar and oil together until it thickened and turned light yellow,
then added the blackberries and dry ingredients in their turn.
Finally, I folded in the figs, which I had diced, for sweet little surprises of flavor and texture in the bread.
After filling my loaf tins with the batter, I sprinkle the top with some demerara sugar for a crunch on top.
And into the oven they go!
BLACKBERRY AND FIG LATE HARVEST QUICK BREAD
For the blackberries
- 2 pints blackberries
- 1 cup sugar
- ½ cup water
- ½ cup rose wine
- ½ tsp vanilla
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 1 cup basil leaves tightly packed
For the Quick Bread
- 2 ½ cups blackberries drained
- ¾ cup figs diced (about 4 figs)
- 3 cups flour
- 1 ½ cup sugar
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tbsp Demerara sugar
Prepare the blackberries one or two days before using.
- Heat the sugar, water and wine to a boil, stirring until the sugar has dissolved.
- Remove from the heat and add the basil leaves.
- Let sit until cool.
- Stir in the vanilla and lemon juice and, using a sieve, pour over the blackberries. Discard the basil leaves.
- Store in the refrigerator until ready to use.
For the Quick Bread
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- Grease or spray with oil one 9X5 loaf pan or two smaller ones
- Drain the blackberries and put them in a medium bowl along with ½ cup sugar.
- Mashed the berries and sugar together well with a fork.
- In a separate bowl, stir together the dry ingredients.
- Place the sugar, eggs and oil in a large bowl and whisk together until it thickens and turns light yellow.
- Stir in the blackberries.
- Stir in the dry ingredients.
- Fold in the figs.
- Place the batter in the prepared loaf pan and sprinkle the top with Demerara sugar
- Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 40-45 minutes for a small loaf, as much as an hour for the larger loaf.
Notes: Blackberries will last for as long as two weeks in the syrup in the refrigerator. Raw sugar can be used in place of demerara sugar