Tuesday, October 04, 2011

VeganMoFo 4: Fig Focaccia with Orange Zest & Anise Seeds

Today's Spice is Anise Seeds

Why yes, I did make a beautiful loaf of sweet Fig Focaccia with Orange Zest & Anise Seeds. (from Local Flavors, by Deborah Madison)
Why yes, this does sound very elegante'
Oh, and, yes dahling, this is a most delightful and amazing treat
Why yes, you simply must eat this with your pinky up, my dear

Recently I made a loaf of this amazing sweet focaccia for some nice friends, as a thank you gift. They loved it, and it was beautiful. So, what's the problem?

The Problem: That focaccia looked so damned good... and I really, really wanted to taste it... but you can't exactly give someone a thank-you loaf of bread with a big bite out of it. I kept trying to forget it, but the image of those beautiful figgy chunks peeking out of the bread would not leave me. So finally I broke down and make a loaf for us.

Thank goodness I did, because it was amazing! When I gave that first loaf to our friend Alana, she called me and said "This is the most sophisticated thing I've ever eaten!" Ha ha! It really is a wonderful and compelling combination of flavors.

Even though I accidentally added way too much orange zest, and even though there were lots of anise seeds in the batter, the end result was that the flavors all seemed to blend into one harmonious experience. No one flavor was dominant... until you bit into a big piece of soft cooked fig. Oh man, SO GOOD.

Most of you have probably already heard of and used anise seeds before, because they aren't all that uncommon. Still, it's not exactly a spice you use every day. They are little guys, maybe the size of sesame seeds, but they have a really strong flavor. They smell a little sweet, and I think they are related to licorice, which makes sense. I think they smell great, and I also really like the taste. Over the years, I think I have used anise seeds most often in recipes just like this - breads that are very mildly sweet - and they are really a wonderful addition.

24 comments:

  1. I have a big pile o' anise that should really become focaccia.

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  2. Last year if I recall I was super impressed with you gorgeous challah, and now this- this is beautiful. I now dub you the vegan Nancy Silverton ;)

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  3. yo mama10:12 AM

    WHAT??!? I didn't get any!?!? This is what I want for my birthday. (Doesn't have to be ON my birthday. Just sometime.) Yikes that looks A-M-A-Z-I-N-G!! (And, coincidentally similar to the NY Times recipe I gave you recently. Cosmic convergence.)

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  4. Mmmm. I love anise! And my dark secret is that I've never cooked with figs. In fact I think I've never eaten them outside of fig newton style cookies. Maybe this is a good first fig recipe!

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  5. Next MoFO, I think you should work on xgfxercising your recipes and on your interpersonal P.O. skills.

    xo
    kittee

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  6. That bread is so beautiful! I can see why you had to make a loaf for yourself.

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  7. So pretty!! I'd probably leave out the anise seeds though because that's one flavor I just can't get down with. But the figs/orange zest combo sounds awesome!

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  8. I'm always baking stuff for other people, wishing I could eat it & then having to make more stuff! Your bread looks very fancy & delicious!

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  9. I'm so glad you made one for yourself! When you gave it to me I kept sneaking back to my car during my errands just to smell it! Yummmmm.

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  10. One more thing. There is whole star anise is pho which you still have to try! Vietamese potluck perhaps? Besides pho, the only other thing I put anise in is the Vegan Brunch tacos.

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  11. Anonymous3:58 PM

    that bread looks insanely good, and this is a good spice to feature - i knew about anise but was more familiar with fennel for licorice-y flavoring. have you tried those fig koala cookies from vcon? i think they have the fig-anise thing as well.

    jen e.

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  12. Oh yum! You definitely made the right choice by making a loaf for yourself.

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  13. Now I know what to use my figs on! Thanks

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  14. I love to chew on anise after a meal - especially the candy coated version they set out in India restaurants. The orange, fig and anise combination is very intriguing. It would be a great addition to a christmas brunch.

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  15. Why yes, dar-ling, this does look truely delectible

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  16. That looks so incredible. Figs in a focaccia? Who'd of thunk it? Good thing I don't live with you or you would have been really annoyed when it was all gone the next day...

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  17. This looks AMAZING! I <3 figs.

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  18. I don't have any anise seeds because I hate licorice flavor and therefore may also hate anise. Who knows? Either way, your focaccia looks AMAZING.

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  19. That looks amazing. I'd love the recipe hint hint
    :-)

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  20. That is gorgeous! I've never made a sweet focaccia but I like the idea of it.

    And I know how you feel when you make something for other people and you can't taste test it!

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  21. I have a huge tin of anise I bought at my local Indian grocery that gets rarely opened.
    Although I'm wary of the anise-fig combo, your photos look fantastic so I'll have to give focaccia this a shot...

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