This is the last recipe in my fig series this year. It’s strange because the figs from my tree have now been used up, but now the supermarkets are full of figs. This is a recipe from Ottolenghi’s website and of course as you would expect, the cake is delicious, moist and flavoursome. The star anise gives the cake that special Ottolenghi twist. Perfect for afternoon tea on autumnal sunny day, or in fact any day and any weather!
200g unsalted butter
200g caster sugar, plus 1 tsp extra
3 large free-range eggs
180g ground almonds
100g plain flour
½ tsp salt
Scraped seeds of ½ vanilla pod or ½ tsp vanilla paste
1 tsp ground star anise
100g Greek yoghurt
Heat the oven to 200C/400F/gas mark 6. Line the bottom and sides of a 24cm loose-based cake tin with baking parchment.
Put the butter and sugar in an electric mixer bowl, and use a beater to work them well until they turn light and pale.
Beat the eggs lightly, then, with the machine on medium speed, add them gradually to the bowl, just a dribble at a time, adding more only once the previous addition is fully incorporated.
Once all the egg is in, mix together the almonds, flour, salt, vanilla and anise, and fold into the batter. Mix until the batter is smooth, then fold in the yogurt.
Pour the batter into the lined tin and level roughly with a palette knife or a spoon.
Cut each fig vertically into four long wedges, and arrange in circles on top of the cake, just slightly immersed in the batter.
Bake for 15 minutes, then reduce the temperature to 170C/340F/gas mark 3 and continue baking until it sets – about 40-45 minutes longer. Check this by inserting a skewer in the cake: it’s done if it comes out clean. Remove the cake from the oven and allow it to cool down before taking it out of the tin and sprinkling with a teaspoon of caster sugar.
I am lucky enough to have a fig tree in my garden. It provides wonderful shade in the summer and this year there has been a particularly bountiful crop of sweet, juicy figs. There is nothing better in the morning to wake up and pick a fig or two off the tree for breakfast. In the recent hot weather, I was sitting under the tree and naturally thinking of ice cream and thought of how delicious a fig ice cream might be. I was lucky enough to find a David Lebovitz recipe and by the end of the day I was eating a deliciously creamy fig ice cream. Joyful!
1kg fresh figs (about 20)
125 ml water
1 lemon, preferably unsprayed
150 g sugar
250 ml double cream
1/2 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice, or more to taste
Remove the hard stem ends from the figs, then cut each fig into 8 pieces. Put the figs in a medium, nonreactive saucepan with the water and zest the lemon directly into the saucepan. Cover and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally until the figs are tender, 8 to 10 minutes.
Remove the lid, add the sugar and continue to cook, stirring frequently, until the figs are a jamlike consistency. Remove from the heat and let cool to room temperature. Once cool, purée the fig paste in a blender or food processor with the cream and lemon juice. Taste, then add more lemon juice if desired.
Chill the mixture thoroughly, then freeze it in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
The thing with birthday cakes is that they are always compared with the cake you made the previous year so there is a certain amount of pressure on you to create an even more fabulous cake. This year for C’s birthday I wanted to make something that was both dramatic and exotic. I am a ‘more is more’ kind of girl, I don’t think you’ll find many pared back cake recipes on this site. I was lucky enough to find two different varieties of fresh fig. Unfortunately, the ones on my tree won’ t be ready till much later in the summer. I wanted to fit as many fresh figs as possible on to the top of the cake for that wow factor. C loved the cake; how could he not? The sponge has dried figs and marzipan, making it beautifully moist. The mascarpone filling adds just the right amount of sweetness, and the fresh figs on top of the cake are just to die for. I found this recipe on the following site:http://hungryrabbit.com/2014/10/fig-almond-tea-cake-w-coconut-honey-glaze, but it was adapted from America’s Test Kitchen who incidentally do a great podcast which I listen to regularly.
225g dried figs, stems removed, coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
3/4 cup water
3 tablespoons slivered almonds, chopped
250g self-raising flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
130ml canned coconut milk, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
200g unsalted butter, softened
300g, plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
4 large eggs, room temperature
Coconut-Honey Glaze & Assembly
3 tablespoons canned coconut milk
2 tablespoons honey
1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt
60g white chocolate, finely chopped
3 tablespoons cream cheese, room temperature
6-8 fresh figs for garnish (optional)
Toasted flaked almonds
100g icing sugar
Roll the marzipan into a 2cm diameter rope, cut rope into 2cm size pieces.
Bring the figs, sugar and water to simmer in a medium saucepan over a medium heat. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until liquid evaporates and figs are very soft, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and cool for 5 minutes. Stir in chopped almonds and marzipan pieces and cool until ready to use.
Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position. Grease a 20cm round spring form tin and line the bottom with baking paper.
Combine flour, baking powder, and salt in bowl. Whisk coconut milk and both extracts.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat butter and sugar on medium speed until fluffy, about 2 minutes. Beat in eggs, one at a time, until combined. Reduce speed to low and add flour mixture in 3 additions, alternating with 2 additions of coconut milk mixture. Mix on low until smooth, about 30 seconds.
Remove mixing bowl, add the fig mixture in chunks of various sizes. Using rubber spatula, fold until mixture is evenly distribute throughout the batter.
Pour batter into prepared tin and smooth top. Place cake in cold oven. Adjust oven temperature to 190C/180C fan/gas 5 and bake until the cake is golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean, 65- 80 minutes.
Cool cake in the tin for 15 minutes, then turn out onto rack and cool completely. (Cooled cake can be stored in airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 days.)
Coconut-Honey Glaze & Assembly
Bring coconut milk, honey and salt to a simmer over in a small saucepan over a medium heat. Turn off heat and whisk in the white chocolate until fully combined. Add the cream cheese, one tablespoon at a time and whisk until glaze is smooth and creamy. Cool for 20-30 minutes until it thickens.
Mix the mascarpone and the icing sugar
Cut the cake into two horizontal layers and spread a layer the mascarpone filling on the first half of the cake. Place the second half of the cake on top so that the flattest side is on top and ready to be decorated.
Drizzle the glaze over the top of cake and let it drip over the sides. Decorate with fresh figs (if using) and sprinkle with toasted flaked almonds to serve.
My fig tree is the tree that just keeps on giving, as a result, I have an abundance of figs. I found this recipe on http://www.hungrycouplenyc.com. I’ve made yoghurt cakes before and they always make me feel that I’m being ‘healthy’. The loaf shape also helps with this fantasy, as I feel like I’m eating bread rather than cake. This cake is so moist and so fragrant it goes down a treat for afternoon tea.
Ingredients (Makes 8-10 servings) 2 large eggs 200g caster sugar 115g unsalted butter, at room temperature 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 200g Greek style yoghurt Zest of 1 lemon 240g plain flour 2 teaspoons baking powder 1 teaspoon salt 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
pinch of ground ginger 3 fresh figs, quartered
•Using either a stand or hand mixer, add the eggs and sugar to a large bowl and beat together until fully combined.
•Beat in the butter, vanilla, lemon zest and yoghurt until all the ingredients are combined.
•In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, salt, baking powder, ginger and cinnamon.
•Slowly stir the dry ingredients into the wet until all the flour is incorporated.
•Butter and flour a loaf tin (add baking parchment for easy removal) and pour in the batter.
•Place the quartered figs along the top of the batter and press in slightly until only the tops are showing.
•Bake in a pre-heated oven 180°C fan/ 200°C/ Gas 6 for approximately 50 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
•Allow to cool and then dust with icing sugar before serving (optional).