Just when I thought I was done baking for a good long while, I discovered a carton of buttermilk a few days away from expiring and half of a pack of almond paste in the back of the fridge. What to do, what to do? Well, we can’t be wasteful and since we’ve got almost a week to go before we start thinking about New Year’s resolutions and whatnot, what do you say we make one last holiday treat?
Here’s the plan: we’ll use the almond paste in combination with plenty of slivered almonds to make a few dense, nutty little loaves. We’ll call it bread, so we can eat it for breakfast (who am I kidding–like I haven’t been eating Christmas cookies for breakfast all week with little remorse), but really it’s bordering on pound cake. Dried figs will get plumped up with a bit of Grand Marnier and folded into the batter along with rosemary, adding a dose of holiday cheer.
Okay, fire up the oven and let’s get ready to bake. Slice up a bowl of dried figs and pour some Grand Marnier over them while you gather up the rest of your ingredients. You’ll need flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and a little cornmeal. Toasted almonds and almond paste. A sprig of rosemary to add a savory note. Eggs, buttermilk, and a stick of softened butter.
Doesn’t it always feel strange in January when days no longer begin with taking butter out to soften?
Mix the flour, baking powder, salt, cornmeal, and chopped rosemary together. I love the slightly piney background flavor the rosemary adds to this bread and the naturally sweet crunch of the cornmeal.
Cream the butter and almond paste with sugar until light, then mix in a couple of eggs.
Add the dry ingredients in 3 batches, alternating with additions of the buttermilk. You’ll have a nice thick batter at this point. Fold in the toasted almonds and boozy figs and scrape it into pans.
I used 4 mini-loaf pans so I can do some belated Christmas gifting. My good intentions don’t always match up with my terrible timing. You could use larger loaf pans or round cake pans, if you’d prefer.
Bake and cool slightly. Cut yourself a piece and enjoy it with a cup of coffee or tea. Or hey, what the heck, how ’bout a splash of that Grand Marnier that’s still sitting on the kitchen counter–the holidays aren’t over yet and your green juice diet can wait for next week.
- 1 c. Dried Figs, sliced
- ¼ c. Grand Marnier (or another orange liquor)
- 2 c. All-Purpose Flour
- ½ c. Cornmeal
- 1½ tsp. Baking Powder
- 1 tsp. Salt
- 1 Tbsp. chopped Rosemary
- ½ c. (1 stick) Unsalted Butter, softened
- 4 oz. Almond Paste, at room temperature
- ¾ c. Sugar
- 2 Eggs
- 1 c. Buttermilk
- 1 c. Slivered Almonds, toasted and cooled
- Place the sliced figs in a small bowl and pour the Grand Marnier over them. Allow them to plump in the liquor for at least 30 minutes, stirring periodically.
- Preheat oven to 350°. Grease 4 mini-loaf pans (mine are 5"x3"x2") with butter or cooking spray.
- Whisk together flour, cornmeal, baking powder, salt, and rosemary in a medium bowl.
- In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream together the butter, almond paste, and sugar until light, about 2 minutes on high. Mix in the eggs, one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary.
- Turn the speed to low and add the dry ingredients in 3 additions, alternating with additions of the buttermilk. Mix until just combined.
- Fold the figs with their soaking liquid and the almonds into the batter.
- Divide the batter between the prepared pans and bake until a tester inserted in the center comes out clean, about 45 minutes. Cool on a wire rack at least 30 minutes before slicing (otherwise the pieces will be quite crumbly). The loaves will keep well at room temperature for several days.