Fig and Almond Cake

We recently moved into a new building and I started a book club to help get to know my the neighbors a little better. Selfishly, they are also a great captive audience for my dessert creations.

This month’s book selection was the Tales of the City series by Armistead Maupin, a classic celebration of all things San Francisco. To further the theme, I chose to celebrate another classic I associate with San Francisco: figs.

We didn’t have fig season where I grew up, but now it’s something I look forward to as a California resident. I can’t wait for those pretty purple fruits arrive in the markets in late summer so I can try some new way to enjoy them. I’ve put them them in salads, on top of pizzas and tartines, and stuffed them full of goat cheese and baked them. But I haven’t experimented with a dessert yet.

When I came across this recipe for Fig and Almond Cake, I knew I would have to tuck it away for just the right occasion. Plus, it sounded like the perfect pairing for another recipe I have been eying for Cinnamon-Vanilla Custard.  And so my lucky book clubbers got a two-for-one deal!

It’s a simple recipe that comes together in a pinch in a Cuisinart food processor and mixer.

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First toss the dry ingredients in a food processor and grind into a fine grainy power. Then, whisk together all the wet ingredients, and mix it all together into a batter.

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Pour the batter into a buttered pie or tart pan and neatly arrange halved figs, the pretty pink sides up, around the top.

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Bake at 375 degrees (I baked at 340 degrees in my convection oven) for 30 minutes, and viola!

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The cake is has a grainy texture and is pretty mild in flavor.  The figs add just the right amount of sweetness and keep the cake so nice and moist it just melts in your mouth. Pair it with Cinnamon-Vanilla Custard Ice Cream and, oh boy, what a treat!

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Fig and Almond Cake

Ingredients
4 tablespoons butter, melted, plus butter for greasing pan
1 cup natural raw almonds (can also use raw almond slices)
¼ cup sugar, plus 2 tablespoons for sprinkling
¼ cup all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
⅛ teaspoon cinnamon
⅛ teaspoon salt
3 eggs, beaten
2 tablespoons honey
½ teaspoon almond extract
12 to 14 ripe figs

Instructions
Heat oven to 375 degrees. Butter a 9-inch fluted tart pan or pie pan; set aside.

Put almonds and 1/4 cup sugar in a food processor and grind to a coarse powder. Add flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt; pulse to combine.

In a mixing bowl, whisk together eggs, melted butter, honey and almond extract. Add almond mixture and beat for a minute until batter is just mixed. Pour batter into pan.

Remove stems from each fig and cut in half. Arrange fig halves cut-side up over the batter. Sprinkle figs with sugar and bake for 30 minutes, until golden outside and dry in the center (test with a cake tester). Cool in pan on top of wire baking rack before serving.

Sprinkle with a light dusting of powdered sugar, or serve with a dollop or whipped cream or Cinnamon-Vanilla Custard Ice Cream, as desired.

Original recipe from: New York Times

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