The Sleeping Figs

İncır Uyutmasi


While shepherds watched their flocks by night, all seated on the ground, they also soaked their figs in milk, and then some sleep they found.That’s essentially the back story of this dish. I love its name—the Sleeping Figs—because it suggests the gentle process of warming the milk and resting the pudding overnight.

A version of this dessert, called teleme, has been a typical goat herder’s snack popular for thousands of years in northwestern Anatolia. They’d milk their goats, add a few drops of sap from fresh figs to the milk, mix it for a few minutes and let it set into yoğurt. Then they would slice fresh figs through it. Of course, that restricted the pleasure to early autumn, when figs are at their best. Our version uses cow’s milk, walnuts and dried figs to make a healthy breakfast for all seasons.


  • 10 dried figs
  • 500 ml (17 fl oz/2 cups) milk
  • 2 fresh figs
  • 2 tablespoons grape molasses
  • 60 g ( oz/½ cup) walnuts


Put the figs in a bowl, cover with hot water and leave to soak for 15 minutes. Transfer the figs to paper towel, leave to drain for 10 minutes, then remove the stalks. Roughly chop each fig into about six pieces and then set aside.

Warm the milk in a saucepan over low heat until it reaches a low simmer, preferably using a simmer mat. Try to keep the temperature around 70°C (160°F) if you have a food thermometer, being careful not to let the milk start to boil.

Add the chopped figs and, using a hand-held blender, mix to a purée. Simmer for a further 5 minutes. (If you don’t have a stick blender, pour the mixture into a blender and pulse until smooth, then pour it back into the saucepan and warm for a further 7 minutes).

Half fill four small bowls with the fig purée. Put the bowls in a cool spot, cover with a tea towel (dish towel) and rest for 2 hours. Cover the bowls with plastic wrap and place in the fridge overnight.

When you’re nearly ready to serve, Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F/Gas 4).

Cut each fresh fig into quarters. Place them on a baking tray with the skin side down. Brush each fig piece with grape molasses, then bake for 5 minutes until slightly soft but still semi-firm.

Roughly chop the walnuts using a food processor, or by hand. Remove the fig purée cups from the fridge. Place two fig quarters on each cup and sprinkle the crushed walnuts over the top, then serve.