I’ve been busy lately. It’s been good, but I’ve sorely missed my kitchen. We went back east to visit my family over the Labor Day weekend which was fantastic. I’ve also been working on a few other projects–but more to come on that soon. When I got back to Portland, the law of opposites caught right up with me. My absence from the kitchen catapulted me to the other end of the spectrum where I needed to bake something a little fancy and a touch grand.

Fresh fig cake

Figs are happening here. It seemed to happen over night but there they were, their soft, velvety skins and green caps, beckoning me. I found a huge box at the store–on sale. Oh all right, I thought to myself in a tone not far from a school marm, outwardly sharp but inwardly secretly anticipating a fun kitchen challenge. Why I keep the inner-glee over small pleasures like finding the seasons first ripe figs from myself of all people, boggles my mind. But I still go along with it. With a pleased little smile pursed on my lips, I walk out of the store with my giant box of figs.

Fresh fig cake

Dorie Greenspan’s boozy honeyed fig cake recipe was where I stopped. I contemplated for a few days, slicing open a fig here and there to savor it’s sweet milkiness and soft seeds. This helped me think, of course, and plan for what to make. But her recipe was where my slicing and thinking and planning came to an abrupt halt. I’d hit a wall and now I needed to turn left and make it. I have to laugh at myself because when it comes right down to it, I never plan what to make too far in advance. It’s always a gut feeling, what is freshest at the market, or what I have on hand. I knew from the moment I grabbed that box of figs that a cake was going to happen, I just didn’t know which one. (Again, why I pretend with myself sometimes boggles me. And again, I go along with it.)

Fresh fig cake

Even with this cake, I added some fresh nutmeg. But the honey port caramel I kept true to the recipe. It became a surprise beginning and ending–it’s candy chewiness something to savor with the last crumbs of cake. Perfect for a fall picnic with your friends, the extra step of making the sauce is well worth it. Dollop it with some vanilla or almond hinted whipped cream if you want an extra bit of decadence–life’s short, I say go for it.

Fresh fig cake

Dorie Greenspan’s A Fig Cake for Fall Recipe

via Food Blogga

  • Makes 8-10 servings

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup ruby port
  • 1 cup honey, divided
  • 2 thin slices lemon
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 16-20 fresh figs, stemmed and halved
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup yellow cornmeal, preferably medium grind
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • grated zest 1 lemon
  • 1 1/2 sticks (12 tablespoons) unsalted butter, cut into 6 pieces, at room temperature
  • 3 large eggs, preferably at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Directions

1. Stir the port and 1/2 cup honey together in small saucepan. Add lemon slices and bring to a boil over medium heat. Lower the heat. Add figs, cover, and cook 4-6 minutes, or until figs are soft but not falling apart. Using a slotted spoon, transfer figs to a bowl. Raise the heat to medium and cook the liquid for 15 minutes, or until slightly thickened; the syrup should coat a metal spoon. Remove from heat and let cool.

2. Place a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F. Butter a 9-inch springform pan. Line the bottom with parchment paper and butter the paper. Dust the inside of the pan with flour, tapping out the excess. Put the pan on a baking sheet lined with parchment.

3. Whisk flour, cornmeal, baking powder, and salt.

4. In a separate bowl, add sugar and lemon zest; rub together with your fingertips until the sugar is moist. Add butter. Using a hand mixer, beat the butter and sugar at medium speed until creamy, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, beating for 1 minute after each addition. Pour in remaining 1/2 cup honey, and the vanilla extract; beat for 2 minutes. Reduce mixer speed to low, add dry ingredients, and mix until just incorporated. The batter will be fairly thick. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and jiggle the pan from side to side to even out the batter. Scatter poached figs over the top.

5. Bake for 55-60 minutes, or until the cake is puffed and golden brown and a knife inserted into the center comes out clean. Transfer the cake to a rack and cool for 10 minutes before running a blunt knife around the edges and releasing the sides of the pan. Cool the cake slightly before serving. Serve warm or at room temperature. Drizzle slices with wine sauce.

Cheers!

Fresh fig cake, by Tricia Martin