I was looking around for an alternative to mince pies for Christmas. I love mince pies but I know that not everybody enjoys them. In my searches I came across a recipe on Better Homes and Gardens for what they call Italian Fig Bundles. They looked wonderful in the photograph and the recipe read quite well. So I decided that I would make them, but call them Fig & Date Bundles as both those ingredients figure in large measure.
Basically a dough is rolled and cut into shapes. Half the shapes have a lovely fig and date filling(with raisins, pine nuts and orange) placed on top and then a second shape, with an ‘X’ cut into it, placed on top and pressed down around the side. The ‘X’ will open up to show off the filling.
This does seem a great alternative to mince pies, or just as a lovely addition to Christmas treats.
Although the recipe details the ingredients for the filling I am sure they can be varied to include, for instance, dried apricots, chopped hazelnuts to make whatever flavour you enjoy.
I must say I loved the result of my bake they looked good and tasted even better. They had the lovely crisp pastry and the rich, fruity filling. These are perfect for the holiday season.
For the dough:
- 480g(3 3/4 cups) plain flour
- 150g(3/4 cup) caster sugar
- 170g(3/4 cup) softened unsalted butter
- 1 tbsp baking powder
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 60ml(1/4 cup milk)
- 1 medium egg(large in USA)
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
For the filling:
- 35g(1/4 cup) raisins
- 42g (1.3 cup) pine nuts
- 110g(2/3 cup) pitted dates, chopped
- 130g(2./3 cup) dried figs, chopped(I used soft-dried)
- zest of an orange
- 45ml orange juice
- 1/2tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 egg with 1 tbsp of water for brushing over the top.
- In a large bowl whisk the butter(I used my hand mixer) until nice and fluffy, about 30 seconds depending on how soft it is.
- Add the sugar and whisk until all combined.
- Add the salt, egg, milk and vanilla extract and beat until all is combined.
- Mix the baking powder into the flour and pour all into the wet mixture.
- Mix together until it forms clumps and all the flour is mixed in.
- Use your hands to pull the dough together into one large ball.
- Divide into four and wrap each part in plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for 30 minutes.
- In a food processor(I used the processing attachment of my immersion blender, half mixture each time), place the figs, dates, pine nuts, raisins, orange zest, orange juice and cinnamon.
- Process until all has been combined into a paste.
- Preheat the oven to 180C/160C Fan/350F
- Line a couple of baking trays with parchment paper or silicone mats.
- Roll out a portion of the dough to a thickness of an 1/8th inch/3mm and then cut out an equal number of squares or circles using a serrated pastry wheel or a cookie cutter. The circles should be 2 1/2 inches/just over 6 cm and squares should be 2 inches/5 cm.
- Place half onto a baking tray and brush the edges with egg wash.
- Place a scant teaspoon of the fig mixture into the centre of each piece on the tray.
- With a very sharp knife cut an ‘X’ into each of the remaining pieces.
- Carefully place each piece with an ‘X’ over the heap of fig mixture and press down the edges onto the pastry base.
- Brush all over with an egg wash and sprinkle with some coarse sugar.
- Bake in the oven for 12 to 15 minutes until the bundles are a nice golden brown.
- Remove from the oven and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.