Fig & Walnut Bread for Sunday (dairy free & grain free)

There are certain times of the month when I find myself constantly craving something toothsome to nibble on. I'm currently working my way through a 5 kilo bag of hazelnuts that I like to roast and keep in a jar for such an occasion - occasions..... But there are days when I have eaten a perfectly ripe banana, handful of toasted nuts, raw carrot, handful of leaves, a large black prune and a couple of chewy tart dried mango strips and I still find myself hanging around the kitchen cupboards like Pooh Bear, wondering if there isn't a little smackerel of something else I could eat. Finley is constantly on a breeding bird's hunt for tidbits to feed himself and often stops me in the middle of an important job to point at his open mouth and squawk, 'feed me mummy!' before slumping at my feet - as though in the last stages of starvation.

Today I had the presence of mind to write Nick a shopping list and take up his kind offer to get the groceries in - without the list we get an assortment of gourmet treats and a bag of carrots, but no toilet paper. While he was gone I tinkered about with some figs and walnuts and produced a bread/cake of surprising lightness - but with a real depth of flavour and pleasing crunch provided by the fig seeds. It was out of the oven and cooling by the time Nick returned with everything on the list (hurrah!) and I was able to offer him a slice for his trouble - while Finley and I consumed snack number eight or nine.

I baked this in a round tin because I wanted it to cook quickly - and therefore be consumed as soon as possible - but you could bake it in a small loaf tin and give it another 10-15 minutes cooking time. If you want to make it more of a cake then add a heaped dessertspoon of honey to the eggs before you add the oil and maybe drizzle a little over the top, or serve with some grilled fresh figs?

Light Fig and Walnut Bread  serves 8

3 oz sweet dried figs (I used baby figs)
4 floz water
2 oz walnut halves
6 oz ground almonds
(almond flour)
3 large free range eggs
80 ml oil
(cold pressed almond, hazelnut, walnut, melted coconut, olive etc)
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp cider vinegar

Grease and line a deep sided 8" diameter  cake tin - or a 1lb loaf tin. Pre-heat the oven to 160C fan assisted (175 without)

Place figs and water in a small saucepan and simmer until most of the water is absorbed - there should just be a bit of moisture left in the bottom.

Blitz the figs in a food processor until they form a coarse paste. Add ground almonds and process again till damp crumbs form. Add walnuts and process again briefly until they are coarsely chopped. Set aside.

In a mixing bowl beat the eggs and bicarb with an electric hand whisk until frothy. Still beating, slowly drizzle in the oil in a thin stream and continue beating until the eggs are pale, thick and doubled in volume.

Sprinkle vinegar over the eggs and beat briefly to distribute evenly.

Tip nut mix onto the eggs and fold in thoroughly with a metal spoon until the nuts are evenly distributed - there will still be quite a lot of egg apparent, but don't worry.

Scrape into the prepared tin and bake for 20 minutes - or until firm to the touch and a skewer comes out clean. Give the loaf more time to bake and maybe turn the temperature down if it browns too fast. Cool on a rack and store in an airtight container in a cool place for up to three days - or slice and freeze for up to two weeks.