Fig Squares, The Quick and Easy Kind

I’ve always liked fig squares. They usually consist of two layers of semi-flaky pastry with a sweet fig filling. Some have just a taste of fig and with others the stuff is oozing out. Either way, I can’t resist eating more of them than I should. When I was a kid we used to get them at Kennedy’s Bakery right at the top of our street. That’s when fresh doughnuts were 7 cents each and a half-dozen of iced cinnamon rolls were about 50 cents. My brother and I would hang out at the open back door of the bakery on summer mornings and just watch and smell as the baker performed his magic.

About 12 years ago I came across an after-Christmas bargain in my local grocery. They had trays of figs that were marked down to about $1 or less per package. A pack usually is about 9-15 ounces in weight. It consists of about 20 figs wrapped up in a tight circle. Well, I bought a bunch of them and delivered them to my dad who was retired and looking for something to do. He took those figs and changed them into fig squares and then delivered them to family members including me. They were great! He had learned how to make traditional flaky pastry crust that was perfectly tasty.

My dad has been gone about 9 years now and good fig squares are difficult to come by. The local grocery and bakeries sometimes have them but I really think the average $2 per square is a bit pricey. I decided to be on the lookout for some post-Christmas figs and luckily I found some for only $1.50 per bunch at my local Ocean State Job Lot store. I got the very vague recipe from my mom (now 92 years old) and tried my hand at making those delicious fig squares. The result was well worth the work. They are every bit as good as the store-bought ones. So far I have tried two batches. The first time my wife bought me some frozen flaky pastry. I was able to make about half a pan of very thick squares with that. I believe she paid about $4 for the pastry. For my next try I just made two regular pie crusts using the old Crisco recipe. The result was not as neat but tasted just as good. I did not try to make correct flaky pastry (cold butter chopped into pastry, etc.) because I wanted to do something easy. Cooking is not a hobby with me. It is a means to an end.

I have presented here my recipe (based on dad’s). The primary options are what you use for the pastry. I prefer the pie crust. It’s easy and inexpensive.

Quick and Easy Fig squares

Prepare the Filling
Cut off and discard stems of figs from two circular bunches of figs.
Place figs in small pan and cover with water.
Add 1 half cup of sugar for each 9-14 oz bunch / package of figs that you use. So, one cup of sugar for two bunches.
Boil for 12 minutes then put figs through
a grinder (reserve liquid in pan).
To the water that is left in pan, add two
tablespoons of corn starch and heat.
Remove from heat when it boils.
Mix with figs.

Prepare the Pastry
Make two ordinary pie crusts, one for the top and one for the bottom. The Crisco© recipe works well. Another recipe that looks great is the All Butter Pie Crust by Jen Miller. Her recipe is a version of flaky crust that looks pretty easy to make. The illustrated instructions are very well done.
Roll the pie crusts as thin as possible. You may have to patch together rectangular pieces to cover the pan.
These will easily cover a 15” x 10” baking sheet.
(Alternate Methods: purchase a frozen pastry or make flaky pastry from scratch)

Final Steps
Line the baking sheet with the pastry (pie crust)
Spoon on the filling. Use the amount you want. If you spread it a little thin you will get at   least two full baking sheets. If you put it on very thick you may get one sheet.
Cover the filling with the top crust and seal the edges.
Bake at 350° for 25-30 minutes. Check often. Remove early if necessary. A very light brown color indicates doneness.
Cut into squares of the size you like best.


Here are a few photographs of the process:

If you try these let me know how they came out. If you have suggestions or comments you can use the form that follows this blog to submit them.

Two last items: I lined the baking tray with parchment paper for the first batch. I did not use the paper or any lard for the second batch. Neither stuck to the pan. That could be because I used too much Crisco in my recipe.  Also, I recommend you refrigerate the squares for several hours before eating. They are much better when fully cooled.


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17 Responses to Fig Squares, The Quick and Easy Kind

  1. Michael Lodico says:

    Wow man thanks for the Fig Square recipe. Since I move from MA over 20 years ago I have sorely missed these great squares that I grew up with. I have been searching for the correct recipe for years and hadn’t found one until now. Can’t wait to make them.

    de K1EG

    • Kenneth Carr says:

      Mike … I missed your comment and just saw it today.
      Did you eventually try the fig squares? How did they come out?

  2. Cynthia says:

    Thank you so much for this. I grew up in Salem, MA and my Mom LOVES fig squares. I even paid 40 bucks once to have a Biddeford Maine bakery mail her a dozen for her birthday, because we can’t find them outside of New England. Alas they won’t mail them anymore, so I’ll have to use your recipe, make them, and mail them myself! 🙂

    • Kenneth Carr says:

      Cynthia … I hope you like them. They are easy to make once you decide to avoid the fancy pastry route.
      Salem? That’s where my son lives now. He loves it there!

      • Cynthia says:

        Yes, only lived there for about 30 plus years . 🙂 Looking forward to visiting the Coffee Time Bakery for some fig squares during my annual trek home this summer. But in the meantime I have your recipe to try. Thanks!

  3. Kaaren Lynch says:

    Oh I’m so happy to have this recipe!! I’ve been gone from Boston for over 40 years, and my taste buds still crave fig squares, and you really can’t find them out of the New England area. Will make these soon!

    • Kenneth Carr says:

      I’m glad this is something you can use, Kaaren. It is way better to
      make them yourself rather than settling for those high-priced ones
      in the grocery store.
      Have fun!

  4. Richard Smith says:

    Thanks for the recipe, I grew up in NE, Salem NH. I look forward to our annual trip back home to score some squares but they are getting harder to find now. I also love lemon and raspberry squares have you ever had those? Looking forward to trying your recipe.

    • Kenneth Carr says:

      Richard, I have had lemon and raspberry squares too. I agree that they are also good. When in RI you can often find fig squares in a grocery chain called Dave’s. They make quality foods. I don’t know of Dave’s has made it to NH.The figs can be found in Job Lot.

  5. Elaine Williams says:

    What about raisin squares – loved both. There was a Mary’s Bakery in Pawtucket, R.I. that had really good raisin and fig squares. The also had little pork pies that were yummy! Miss those days of yummy bakeries!

    • Kenneth Carr says:

      My favorite bakery was in the Conimicut section of Warwick. It was Kennedy’s. We lived on the adjacent side street. On Saturday mornings my brother and I would go to the back door and watch the baker make fresh cinnamon rolls. They came in strips of 6 that you would separate. He often gave us a doughnut or a roll. Doughnut were 7 cents each. And yes, they had raisin squares too.

  6. CHERYL P CABRAL says:

    I am a native Rhode Islander and also loved fig squares. I was wondering if you can use dried figs to make the fig squares?

  7. Belinda says:

    I lived 5 blocks from Crugnale’s Bakery in Rumford, RI for many years. I’d often walk there for A fig square and eat it while walking back home – you know, burn off the calories as eating them. . . Anyway, I’ve been in North Carolina for 20 years now and can’t find a descent fig square anyplace. Thank you so much for this recipe! (I miss the lemon squares, too, but not nearly as much as the fig).

  8. Cynthia says:

    I’m on the hunt for a manual food grinder so that I can make these for Christmas! Also my Mom used to make pie crust with olive oil ( not extra virgin olive oil just a good quality regular olive oil) and milk. I am going give that a try.

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