Are fig rolls cakes, or biscuits - and more to the point, can our GBBO bake-along baker Kate make them?

Kate Royall's fig roll GBBO challenge (C) Kate Royall

Kate Royall's fig roll GBBO challenge (C) Kate Royall - Credit: Kate Royall

Baking along with the Bake Off: This week, Kate Royall tackled the technical: Fig Rolls. 'Little bundles of cakey-biscuity joy…' she says, cunningly sidestepping the 'are they cakes or biscuits?' debate entirely.

Kate Royall's GBBO challenge - fig rolls (C) Kate Royall

Kate Royall's GBBO challenge - fig rolls (C) Kate Royall - Credit: Kate Royall

After completing the first Great British Bake Off technical challenge I tuned into the second episode with trepidation - would biscuit week offer up a technical bake as tricky as the first?

The challenge of the angel cake the week before had almost turned me off baking - the cake is made using genoise sponge - a bake I've never been the best of friends with - I'm just useless at keeping the precious air in the mixture that gives the cake its rise.

Needless to say the final result wasn't particularly fluffy and I was rather deflated too.

But, not wanting to let it beat me I've taken on board numerous tips on how I might improve my technique next time - yes, there will be a next time so in the meantime, back to biscuit week.

Kate Royall's fig rolls, the technical challenge from GBBO 2019's Biscuit Week (C) Kate Royall

Kate Royall's fig rolls, the technical challenge from GBBO 2019's Biscuit Week (C) Kate Royall - Credit: Kate Royall

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Having decided to follow each and every technical bake from this year's stellar baking show the second challenge was set - fig rolls.

I felt pretty buoyant about it because fig rolls hold lots of happy memories for me from my childhood and I loved the thought of recreating that. As a child, fig rolls - in their iconic red packaging - would often appear in the pantry or in our lunchboxes and I was positive this bake would get me back on track.

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And, even more appealing was the fact that - for the first time - the list of ingredients needed for the challenge lurked in the kitchen cupboards - there was no need to turn to Amazon for a quirky piece of equipment or a specialist ingredient - phew!

I was optimistic and looking forward to it.

I began by making the pastry. The fig roll challenge was set during Great British Bake Off's biscuit week but I've never thought of fig rolls as biscuits - more a spongy-cakey-pastry concoction.

Officially Paul Hollywood refers to them as 'soft biscuit dough encasing a lightly spiced fig filling' - a blissful description.

Although technically a biscuit dough it seems more akin to crumbly pastry that, once cooked, is light, spongy and delicately flavoured with vanilla.

The fig mixture is made by boiling a batch of figs with sugar and water to make a figgy goo that is then combined with warming cinnamon and sticky stem ginger - I was tempted to eat this alone.

But instead, as per the recipe, I rolled the cooled fig mixture into sausages and lovingly wrapped the pastry around them.

Once cut into twelve little rolls, I took great satisfaction in taking my fork and squishing the top of each biscuit lightly to create the iconic 'fig roll' lines - I know, I need to get out more!

It was then into the oven for 13 minutes until the pastry was ever-so slightly golden - I sometimes have the habit of slightly over baking things for fear of soggy pastry but I was strict with my timings and was pleased with the outcome - 12 little bundles of joy which looked even more appetising after a dusting of icing sugar.

Was I pleased with myself? Yes!

The rolls were sweet and delicately spiced, a hint of warmth and a soft biscuit dough - perfect with an afternoon cup of Earl Grey tea.

Would I make them again? Often.

Were they difficult? No.

How do I feel? Ready for bread week - I'm on the rise and raring to go!

Read more at Kate's blog, Diary of a Country Girl,

Paul Hollywood's Fig Rolls


For the biscuit dough:

175g plain flour, plus extra for dusting

pinch of fine salt

¼ tsp baking powder

50g unsalted butter, softened

40g light muscovado sugar

1 egg, beaten

½ tsp vanilla extract

For the filling:

200g soft dried figs, roughly chopped

25g light muscovado sugar

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1 ball of stem ginger in syrup, drained and very finely chopped


Step 1

Make the biscuit dough. Sift the flour, salt and baking powder together into a bowl. Beat the butter and sugar in a stand mixer fitted with the beater, on medium speed for 3-5 minutes, until pale and creamy.

Step 2

Add the egg and vanilla and beat until combined. With the mixer on a low speed, add the flour mixture in two or three batches until incorporated. Scrape the mixture out onto a sheet of cling film, then wrap and chill for 30 minutes, until firm.

Step 3

Make the filling. Tip the figs into a small pan so they cover the base. Add the sugar and enough water to just cover the fruit. Place over a medium heat and bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to give a fast simmer and cook, stirring with a wooden spoon, for 5-8 minutes, until the figs are soft and the mixture is thick.

Step 4

Transfer the mixture to a food processor and blitz to a paste. Add the cinnamon and ginger and pulse for a few seconds to combine. Spread out the mixture onto a plate to cool, then chill for 10 minutes to firm up.

Step 5

Heat the oven to 200°C/180°C fan/Gas 6.

Step 6

Roll out the chilled biscuit dough on the flour-dusted sheet of baking paper to a 25 x 20cm rectangle. Trim the edges and cut the rectangle in half to give two strips, each measuring 25 x 10cm.

Step 7

Halve the fig filling and, with floured hands, roll each half into a sausage measuring 25cm long. Lie each sausage down the middle of one a strip of biscuit dough. Brush the long edge of one strip of dough lightly with water and, using the baking paper to help, lift and roll the dough over the filling as you would a sausage roll. It should overlap and seal in the filling. Repeat with the other roll.

Step 8

Gently transfer the rolls onto the prepared baking sheet and cut each roll into six equal pieces. Run a fork along the tops of the rolls to slightly flatten and to create decorative lines. Bake for 12-15 minutes, until lightly browned, then remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack before serving.

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