Joan Nathan’s Fig Fluden

Joan Nathan says: This is one of those recipes that has pretty much disappeared in the United States, but those who remember it rave about it. A fluden, which comes from fladni or fladen, “flat cake” in German, is just that, a flat, double-or often multilayered flaky pastry filled with poppy seeds, apples and raisins, or cheese. It was originally common to southern Germany and Alsace-Lorraine, later spreading east to Hungary, Romania, and other Eastern European countries. Often flavored with honey, it was eaten in the fall at Rosh Hashanah or Sukkot and is symbolic, like strudel, of an abundant yield. I have tasted apple two-layered fluden at Jewish bakeries and restaurants in Paris, Budapest, Tel Aviv, and Vienna, sometimes made with a butter crust, sometimes with an oil-based one. But only in Paris have I tasted the delicious fig rendition, a French fig bar, from Finkelsztajn’s Bakery. (Figs, my father used to tell me, were often eaten in Germany as the new fruit on the second day of Rosh Hashanah.) This recipe is a perfect example of the constant flux of Jewish foods. Today, with the huge population of Tunisian Jews in Paris, it is no wonder that the Finkelsztajn family spike their fig filling with bou’ha, a Jewish Tunisian fig liqueur used for kiddush, the blessing over the wine on the Sabbath. You can, of course, use kirsch or any other fruit liqueur instead.

Ingredients
The dough:
* 2/3 cup unsalted butter or margarine (or half butter and half vegetable shortening), cut into tablespoon-size pieces
* 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
* 1/2 teaspoon salt
* 1/4 cup ice water

The filling:
* 4 cups water
* 2 tea bags
* Grated peel and juice of 1 lemon
* 2 cinnamon sticks
* 3 cups dried figs, stemmed
* 1/3 cup sugar
* 2 tablespoons bou’ha, or other fruit liqueur
* 1 large egg, lightly beaten

The dough:
Place the butter or margarine (or butter and vegetable shortening), flour, and salt in a food processor fitted with the steel blade. Process until crumbly and gradually add the water, continuing to process until a ball is formed. Wrap the dough in waxed paper and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

Filling and baking the fluden:
Bring the water to a boil, then lower the heat and add the tea bags, the lemon peel and juice, and the cinnamon sticks. Steep for 1-2 minutes and remove the tea bags. Place the figs in the water and poach for about 5 minutes.

Drain the figs and the lemon peel, reserving the poaching liquid. Then place the figs, the lemon peel, the sugar, the liqueur in a food processor fitted with the steel blade. Process but do not purée; you want the figs to have texture. Add a tablespoon or so of poaching liquid if the filling is too dry.

Preheat the oven to 400° and grease a 9-inch-square pan. Roll out half the dough to a 1/8-inch thickness. Put it in the bottom of the pan (it should not go up the sides), and trim off excess dough. Prick the dough with a fork. Spoon in the fig mixture. Roll out the second half of the dough and cover the fig mixture. Prick a few holes in the top and brush with the egg.

Bake the fluden for about 25 minutes, or until the crust is golden. When done, cut the fluden into 16 squares. It is wonderful served warm, with whipped cream or ice cream. Or you can let it cool and eat it as you would a fig bar.

Read More http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Fig-Fluden-14605#ixzz18VEEBECQ

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