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.