I never cared much for fresh fruit growing up in Dubai. My mother grew pomegranates, guava, and figs in our backyard and I clearly remember her spending warm summer afternoons looking over her crop, picking only the most perfectly ripe specimens to adorn our living room table.
Back then, I didn’t so much consider fruit to be a “snack.” Even now, I tend to seek out sugary, often chocolate-covered treats over those “healthier” fresh options. I found figs, with their leathery skins and seedy interiors, especially unappealing. Whenever my mom bit into one of her freshly picked figs with joy, I crinkled my nose in disdain.
But Arab moms have a knack for persuading their sons to eat just about anything, eventually. One day, after hours spent playing outside in the neighborhood gardens, I rushed into the house, hungry for a snack. Mom urged me to wash up in a hurry so she could make me a jam sandwich, one of my favorite treats. When I sat down at the table, I was so ravenous I didn’t even look at what was wrapped inside the soft pita she put in front of me.
From the first bite, I was overwhelmed. A deep and figgy sweetness contrasted against a buttery layer; a sprinkling of crunchy seeds shone through all the richness with a distinctly warm and earthy aroma. This was no simple jam sandwich. I gazed up at my mom with wonder and asked what she had fed me.
With a twinkle in her eye, she calmly replied, “Salted butter, caraway seeds…and figs.” I was stunned.
Since then, these three ingredients make up one of my all-time favorite flavor combinations, which I even love to incorporate into—you guessed it—sweet baked treats. If you’re a fig lover (or are on the fence about this magnificent fruit), I encourage you to try this simple yet elegant fig scone recipe. When fresh figs are not in season, feel free to substitute dried ones which have been soaked in warm water or tea for 30 minutes.
- 2¾ cup all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
- 1 Tbsp. baking powder
- 1 Tbsp. finely grated lemon zest
- 2 tsp. caraway seeds, lightly toasted in a dry skillet
- ½ tsp. fine sea salt
- ¼ cup sugar
- 8 Tbsp. salted butter, cut into small cubes
- 5½ oz. fresh figs, stemmed and cut into quarters
- ¾ cup heavy cream
- 2 large eggs, divided
- ½ tsp. vanilla extract.
- Turbinado sugar, for topping (optional)