In Season: Jammy Figs

I grew up in a beautiful family-home in Uniepark, Stellenbosch. I was the second of 4 kids, and we had many fruit trees in our garden: peaches, prunes, lychees, grapes, lemons and figs. I absolutely HATED figs back then: the ripe fruit would fall from the trees (there were two fig trees and they each carried hundreds of fruit), attracting those huge yellow and black beatles. I started associating figs with the smell of spoilt fruit and bugs, and didn’t eat them for many years after moving from that house. I cannot believe I had been so silly!

Now, figs are a delicacy to me. They are beautiful to look at, beautiful to photograph, beautiful to eat. They’re expensive, and not always easy to find. These days I would pay good money for one of those trees from my childhood! I would eat them fresh every morning for breakfast, cook them in jams, serve them in salads, and bake them in tarts.

But today, I want fig pizza. I couldn’t decide whether to serve it as a fresh pizza (fresh toppings on a pre-baked base), or as a baked pizza, so I did both. My advice would be this: if you want to serve this as a starter or snack to a number of guests, serve it fresh. You can pre-bake the base, and assemble the pizza before your guests arrive. It is a winner for warm summer night feasts. But, if you want to make it a main meal, be sure to add mozzarella and bake it in a blistering hot oven.

The slices of fig almost resemble salami if you take a quick glance! But this meatless, sweet and salty pizza combo is an absolute dream dish – and stunning to look at. Make the most of summer’s fig harvests and try these two pizza combinations – hot or cold, figs are simply fantastic.

Ingredients for pizza base:

  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 T instant yeast
  • 1 T sugar
  • 1/2 T salt
  • 3/4 cup lukewarm water
  • 1 T olive oil

Ingredients for the topping:

  • 6 ripe figs
  • 4-6 T onion marmelade
  • 200 g chevin goats cheese
  • a bunch of fresh watercress leaves (or rocket) extra virgin olive oil
  • balsamic glaze (it’s the concentrated, sweeter version of balsamic vinegar)
  • 120 g grated mozzarella cheese salt and freshly ground black pepper

Steps

  • Step 1

    In a large bowl, mix flour, yeast, sugar and salt together. Add water and olive oil and mix untill a sticky dough forms. Knead untill the dough becomes soft and pliable. Cover and let it rise in a warm area for about 15-30 minutes until doubled in size.
  • Step 2

     Pre-heat oven to 240 degrees Celsius for at least 20 minutes.
  • Step 3

    Divide dough in 2. On a well floured surface, roll out one piece at a time into circular shapes, adding a little more flour to make sure the dough doesn’t stick. Transfer to a large baking tin lined with baking paper.
  • Option 1

    fresh fig pizza with the pre-baked base: Bake the pizza base for about 7-10 minutes or untill lightly golden brown. Remove from the oven and brush with olive oil (if the pizza puffs up in the oven, just flatten it slightly after you remove it from the oven). Let it cool. Arrange sliced figs, pieces of goats cheese and slivers of onion marmalade on the pizza, then add watercress leaves and drizzle with balsamic glaze. Slice and serve.
  • Option 2

    baked fig pizza with extra mozzarella cheese: Spread the unbaked pizza base with a thin layer of onion marmalade (instead of traditional tomato sauce), then cover with mozzarella cheese. Arrange sliced figs and pieces of goats cheese on pizza base, then bake for 10-12 minutes or untill the cheese is bubbly and golden brown. Remove from oven and cool for 3 minutes. Arrange watercress leaves, season with salt and pepper, slice, then serve immediately.