Mission Fig Bread

Recipe by Martin Philip

This dense and chewy bread, with its crunchy crust, is packed with flavor. Read all the way through the directions before starting; it's an overnight bread, so you'll need to plan ahead. Also, this recipe comes from baker Martin Philip and our King Arthur Bakery. Since our bakers put together their formulas using gram measurements, rather than ounces or volume, you'll be most successful if you make this bread with the aid of a gram scale.

20 mins
32 to 37 mins
17 hrs 3 mins
2 loaves
Mission Fig Bread


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  1. To make the preferment: Weigh your flour; or measure it by gently spooning it into a cup, then sweeping off any excess. Mix the flour, water, and sourdough starter until thoroughly combined. Cover and let rest at room temperature for 12 to 16 hours; the dough will be nice and bubbly.

  2. To make the soaker: Toast the cracked wheat in a skillet set over low heat until the grains are lightly browned, and smell toasty. Combine the wheat and water, and let rest overnight.

  3. To make the dough: In a large bowl, combine the flours and yeast, then stir in the water, mixing until no dry bits remain. If you're using a stand mixer, this may take up to 3 to 4 minutes at low speed.

  4. Let the dough rest in the bowl, covered, for 20 minutes.

  5. Add the preferment, soaker, and salt, mixing until fully incorporated. Mix for 6 to 7 minutes at medium-low speed; the dough should be smooth (aside from the cracked wheat) and elastic.

  6. Add the fig and anise seed, mixing on low speed until evenly distributed. The dough may be quite stiff; that's OK.

  7. Check the dough temperature; it should be between 75°F and 80°F. This is the optimum temperature for rising dough, so try to find a spot that's around that temperature.

  8. Cover the bowl, and let the dough rise for 15 minutes. Give the dough its first fold by reaching into the bowl and pulling a corner of dough up, folding it back toward the middle, and pushing it down. Repeat, working your way around the dough ball, for a total of 4 to 6 times. This will both de-gas the dough, helping the yeast to work; and strengthen the dough's structure.

  9. Repeat folding the dough after another 15 minutes (at the 30-minute mark since it started rising), and once more at the 45-minute mark.

  10. Let the dough rise for 90 to 120 minutes, or until it's noticeably puffy, though perhaps not doubled in bulk.

  11. Gently deflate the dough, and divide it into two pieces about 560g each.

  12. Gently pre-shape the pieces by gathering the corners of the dough and folding them to the center to form a loose ball. Place the balls, seam-side down, on a very lightly floured surface, cover, and let rest for 10 to 15 minutes.

  13. Working with one piece of dough at a time, shape as a batard with tapered points. Tuck one end underneath to create a teardrop shape. Place seam-side up on a flour-dusted couche or smooth cotton towel. Repeat with the second piece of dough. Need help shaping? See our tips for shaping a batard video.

  14. Gently cover the loaves, and let them rise for about 60 minutes, until they're puffy.

  15. While the loaves are rising, preheat your oven to 450°F, with a baking stone on the middle rack. Place a cast iron pan on the oven's lowest rack; you'll use it to create steam.

  16. To bake on a stone: Roll the proofed loaves, seam-side down, onto a peel dusted with semolina or whole wheat flour. If you aren't using a stone, roll them onto a parchment-lined baking sheet, seam-side down.

  17. Score the dough with a baker's lame or very sharp knife, cutting an arc from the midpoint of the tip to the midpoint of the base.

  18. Add 1 cup boiling water to the cast iron pan. Quickly use the peel to load the loaves onto the stone (or place the pan in the oven), and close the door.

  19. Bake the loaves for 32 to 37 minutes, or until they're a rich mahogany color. The top crust will feel firm, and the bottom crust will be robust, but not burned. If you have a digital thermometer, the loaf's center temperature should be about 200°F.

  20. Remove the loaves from the oven, and transfer them to a rack to cool.

Tips from our Bakers

  • Don’t have any starter? Here’s a recipe for homemade sourdough starter. If you're making it from scratch, you'll need to feed it for 5 to 7 days before it’s ready for baking. Want a head start? Purchase our classic fresh sourdough starter — it’ll be ready for baking soon after it arrives at your door. Looking for tips, techniques, and all kinds of great information about sourdough baking? Find what you need in our sourdough baking guide.

  • Want to try Martin's favorite figs? Look for unsulphured, dried Black Mission figs.

  • If your figs seem especially dry, give them a quick soak in hot water for about 20 to 30 minutes, then drain and add to the recipe as usual.