Fig and Aniseed Plaited Scone Loaf

Fig and Aniseed Plaited Scone LoafScones are a British tradition and eaten a lot in New Zealand, particularly scones made with sultanas or dates. I’ve taken the flavour combination from the Fig & Aniseed bread in my last book ‘Taste – baking with flavour’. I just love these flavours and wanted to make something quick and simple, instead of waiting for the bread to slowly rise and bake. Its so nice eaten warm with a slice of softened butter and a hot cup of orange, lemongrass and mint infused tea or hot chocolate. (Recipe from "Global Baker - Dean Brettschneider")

200g Turkish dried figs, stems removed and finely chopped
50mls dark rum or ouzo liquor
1 teaspoons of aniseeds, lightly bruised with a rolling pin or pastel & mortar to release the flavours
50g softened butter
1 teaspoon of cinnamon

Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl, ensuring that the figs are broken down a little, cover and set aside for a few hours, or over night, then mix again. You will notice the figs will break up more easily as they soften, so the longer the soaking time the better.

Scone Dough
380g plain flour
30g caster sugar
25g baking powder
good pinch salt
60g butter, softened
1 egg
190ml milk

1 egg whisked together with 2 tablespoons water for the egg wash

Makes 2 small plaited loaves or one large plaited loaf

1. Using a large sieve, sift the flour, sugar, salt and baking powder into a large mixing bowl. Add the butter and rub into the flour using your finger tips until it is evenly mixed in.

2. In a jug, whisk together the milk and egg and pour into the dry ingredients. Using a wooden spoon mix together until you have a soft dough, then tip it out onto a floured bench and knead for 10 – 20 seconds, however don’t over-knead otherwise it will become too elastic.

3. Take the dough and cut it into two equal pieces, or leave whole for a large loaf, and shape it into a square shape. Then using a rolling pin, roll out each dough piece on a lightly floured bench to a square measuring approximately 25cm by 25cm.

4. Whisk the egg and water together to make an egg wash.

5. Spread half of the filling evenly on top of each dough sheet, leaving about 1cm free at the bottom edge.

6. Brush the bottom edges with the egg wash, then tightly roll up the dough sheet, starting at the top to achieve a swiss roll or pinwheel shape log, 25cm in length, repeat the filling, egg-washing and rolling process with the other sheet.

Fig and Aniseed Plaited Scone Loaf7. Using a sharp large chef’s knife or dough scraper make a single lengthways cut down the middle, right the way through.

8. Take the two strands, one in each hand, with the cut side of each strand facing towards you, twist them around each other, press the ends firmly together so they do not unwind during the baking process. Twist and press the other two strands. Place the plaits onto a baking tray lined with non-stick baking paper keeping them well apart so the don’t join together during baking.

8. Brush the plaits with egg wash and allow them to rest for 10 minutes on the bench before baking.

9. Make the apricot glaze* and set aside for later use.

10. Bake in a preheated oven set at 170 - 180ºC and bake for approximately 30 – 35 minutes for the smaller loaves, and 35 – 40 minutes for the large loaf, turning the tray half way through baking to ensure an even colour.

11. Remove from the oven and brush immediately with the hot apricot glaze, which you prepared earlier.

*Apricot Glaze
4 tablespoons apricot jam
3 tablespoons water

Place the apricot jam and water into a small saucepan and bring to the boil, stirring constantly. Strain the glaze through a sieve and use whilst both the plaits and glaze are hot.