Sunday, September 8, 2013

Fresh Fig Cake

Recently, I’ve been having a culinary love affair with figs.
I could eat them however….sliced and tossed in a salad, fig jam slathered on cheese, stuffed with blue cheese, sautéed in a wine sauce and served on top of meat, fish or vegetables or just as a simple snack .  I like the beautiful Turkish variety luring me with its variegated, smooth, dark, mossy-aubergine skin.  The modest fig blushes when opened, revealing a unique and textured flesh that, to me, is luscious, intoxicating and addicting.
Oh wait, I’m writing about figs, right?  Sorry….I told you I was having a love affair, of sorts.

When buying figs, don’t shy away from a fig with skin that appears a bit wrinkled…it is very rare indeed that you will find a fig with perfectly taut skin (kind of like people!).  Look for a bent little stem and even though a split or two is okay, avoid any fig that is oozing at the stem or excessively spongy.  As with any fruit, check the bottom of the container for any liquid or mold and, of course, move on if either is present.

Figs are a member of the mulberry family and a good source of potassium, a mineral known to help curb high blood pressure (maybe that's why I like them). And if you’re trying to lose weight, the dietary fiber in figs can help you to effectively keep that pesky scale from creeping up. 
I think figs are just plain damn good and that’s why I decided to make a cake with figs as the leading lady.  I made my little masterpiece for a dinner party and – to my surprise – there was also a fig pizza appetizer and a wonderful side dish of sweet potatoes and figs with a balsamic vinegar reduction….it was a fig-a-go-go!  The cake added to the deliciousness…not too sweet, very moist and somewhat dense – the best kind of cake!  Perfect with a cup of tea.

Fresh Fig Cake

1/4 cup butter, softened
1 cup white sugar
1 egg
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 cup evaporated milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
1 cup chopped fresh figs
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup water
2 cups chopped fresh figs
1 tablespoon lemon juice

Preheat oven to 350°. Spray two 8-inch round cake pans with vegetable oil spray. In a medium bowl, sift together flour, salt and baking powder. Set aside. In a large mixing bowl, cream butter with the sugar until fluffy. Add egg and beat well. Add flour mixture alternately with the evaporated milk. Fold in vanilla and almond extracts and chopped figs. Divide into two prepared 8 inch round cake pans. Bake at 350° for 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out dry.

To make the filling: In a saucepan, combine 2 cups figs, brown sugar, water and lemon juice. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook until thickened, about 20 minutes. Let the filling cool and then spread thinly between layers of cake and on top.

If you can't find fresh figs, wait until you can to make this just would not be the same made with dried figs.  Also, the next time I make this, I’ll gussy-up the sides of the cake with sliced almonds and add some brandy or whiskey to the fig filling mixture...that would be tasty!  Regardless, this cake was so good and a HUGE hit.

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