Friday, October 2

Not One, But Two Fresh Fig Cake Recipes

fresh california figs
Brown turkey figs grown in San Diego County.

This past weekend at the BlogHer Conference, I was on a panel entitled, "The Meaning of Identity and The Value of Voice in a Crowded Foodblogging World." I shared the stage with three lovely and talented food bloggers: Dianne of Will Write For Food, Garrett of Vanilla Garlic, and Ree of Pioneer Woman.

When asked to identify "voice," we all agreed: Voice is an expression of you -- your personality, your beliefs, your attitudes, your quirks, etc. My post today is a perfect illustration of that.

Every time I get dressed to go out, I try on at least two, sometimes three different outfits. Even if the first outfit is ideal for the occasion, I feel compelled to try on at least one another. What if I don't like the way that dress looks when I put it on? What if I'm cold in a sleeveless top? What if? What if? What if?

Maybe it's a touch of OCD. Maybe it's because I'm a closet What Not To Wear addict. Maybe it's just because I'm indecisive. I don't know. I don't care. After 30- some- odd years, I've decided to just go with it. (Fortunately, Jeff has too.)

Apparently, I have the same problem with fresh fig cake recipes. I was all set to post on one fresh fig cake when I got this incurable itch to make another. What if it's sweeter? What if it's better with some fresh rosemary? What if? What if? What if?

So I tried on a second recipe. My verdict? There's both delicious (and stylish). That's the beauty of blogging. I don't have to choose. I can wear both.

dorie greenspan's fig cake for fall
Fresh fig cake #1: Dorie's Fig Cake For Fall.

Though both cakes are made with fresh figs, they're not at all like one another. The first, a fig and polenta cake, slightly adapted from Dorie Greenspan's Fig Cake for Fall recipe, is rustic and boozy. It's the kind of the cake that's ideal for sharing with good friends and good wine on a lazy weekend afternoon.

fresh fig, walnut, and rosemary upside-down cake
Fresh fig cake #2: My Fresh Fig, Walnut, and Rosemary Upside-Down Cake.

The second is my Fresh Fig, Walnut, and Rosemary Upside-Down Cake, which I adapted from my grandmother's famous pineapple upside-down cake recipe. I've got to tell you, I'm smitten with this cake. The lush, ripe figs become encased in a buttery brown sugar crust, while the savory rosemary and tangy lemon balance the cake's sweetness perfectly.

I won't tell you which fresh fig cake you should make because that would be presumptuous. So, I'll tell you this instead: Make both. OK, so maybe that is presumptuous, but it's better than saying, "I couldn't make up my mind."

Fresh Fig, Walnut, and Rosemary Upside-Down Cake

Makes 8 servings
Print recipe only here.

1/2 cup butter (8 tablespoons)
1 cup brown sugar
10 fresh, ripe figs of your choice, tips removed, halved
2 teaspoons fresh rosemary, finely chopped, divided
2-3 tablespoons walnut pieces, or as many as needed
1 cup flour, sifted*
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
3 eggs, separated
1 cup granulated sugar
4 tablespoons lemon juice
zest of 2 lemons
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1. Position a rack in the center of the oven, and preheat to 350 degrees F.

2. Add butter to a 9-inch-round baking pan, and place inside of a warm oven until melted, about 5 minutes. Remove from oven, and sprinkle brown sugar evenly over the butter. Add figs, flesh side down, and sprinkle with 1 teaspoon of the rosemary. Fill in the nooks and crannies with walnut pieces.

3. In a medium bowl, combine sifted flour, baking powder and salt, and stir.

4. Using a hand mixer, in a metal or glass bowl, beat egg whites at high speed until fluffy. Set aside.

5. In a separate bowl, beat egg yolks with sugar at medium speed until creamy. Add lemon juice, zest, vanilla extract, and remaining 1 teaspoon rosemary, and beat well. Add the flour mixture to the creamed mixture, and beat until well combined. Fold in the egg whites with a rubber spatula. Pour cake mixture evenly over the fruit, and smooth with the spatula.

6. Bake for 40 minutes, or until cake is golden and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Place on a wire rack to cool for 10 minutes. Run a blunt knife around the edges of the pan to loosen the cake. Invert carefully onto a plate. Serve warm or at room temperature.

*Note: Sifting the flour creates a lighter cake.

dorie greenspan's fig cake for fall
Don't forget to drizzle each slice of Dorie's fig cake with some spiced wine sauce.

Dorie Greenspan's A Fig Cake for Fall
Makes 8-10 servings
Print recipe only here.

This is Dorie Greenspan's recipe for A Fig Cake for Fall from her book, Baking: From My Home to Yours. Since I adapted it ever so slightly, I merely added the changes in parentheses where applicable.

3/4 cup ruby port (I used Muscato)
1 cup honey, divided
2 thin slices lemon
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon (my addition)
16-20 fresh figs, stemmed and halved (I used Calimyrna)
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 1/2 lemon (I used 1 whole 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

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.

Here are more delicious fig dessert recipes you might enjoy:
Dessert Risotto with Wine Poached Figs recipe at Food Blogga
Fresh Fig Tart recipe at Macheesmo
Gingered Flavored Fig Tartlets recipe at La Tartine Gourmande
Fresh Fig Sorbet recipe at Ms. Adventures in Italy


Snooky doodle said...

both cakes look delicious! I think I prefer the first one though :)

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

Two gorgeous cakes! I'll take a slice of both!



The Teacher Cooks said...

Have never had a fig cake. Will try out one of these.

Lisa@The Cutting Edge of Ordinary said...

I adore figs. I just got one this past summer and I'm hoping next yr I'll have figs on it. It's not so easy to grow one in RI, but I'm gonna try like heck.

Fig's in anything - yum!

Cookie baker Lynn said...

Ooh, that would be a tough choice to make. I think...both!

ann said...

I couldn't possibly decide. Looks like I'll be making both too! We're just getting some beautiful figs in now. Thanks!

Amy J in SC said...

Incredible photography. How can you not be attracted to the fig with pictures like that - the colors are amazing.

Manggy said...

I don't think I could decide either, but the upside-down cake looks especially beautiful to me :)

Chef Jeena said...

I would love a slice of each of these beautiful fig cakes.

lisaiscooking said...

They both look amazing, but I think I'll try the second one first. I love the idea of upside down cakes!

Jennifer B said...

I love fall simply for recipes like this. I've never had a fig before but now I want to try! thanks for sharing these!

ecath said...

They both look so yummy! I would love to put them in my belly!

Anonymous said...

I'm digging the first cake. But I'm just jealous that you have enough figs to make two cakes! I love figs, but they're so hard to come by! Yum.

Erika Kerekes said...

I love both these cakes. I'm lucky enough to have a friend with two HUGE fig trees, so every summer I have about a month where I'm bringing home 20+ pounds of figs each week. My extra refrigerator is full of fig jam and fig chutney. Next time I can make cake, too!

Gudrun said...

Darn it! Where were you and your fig recipes two weeks ago when I was overwhelmed with glorious fresh figs! Ah, sadly, I was not able to eat them fast enough. If I am lucky enough to lay my hands on more, I will be trying one, or two, or heck, all your fig recipes. Thanks for the inspiration!

Aparna Balasubramanian said...

I don't think I can choose either! And I can hardly wait for the figs to arrive here, still a few months away.

T.W. Barritt at Culinary Types said...

I would venture to say that your fig obsession is more than just a passing infatuation ... :-)

Lisa Johnson said...

Two recipes are always better than one, so I'm glad for all your "what ifs!" I do the same thing. As I'm looking at these cakes, I'm realizing that for some reason plums and figs sometimes get mixed up when I think about them. Not quite sure what that means. I guess I need to bake something with both of them and explore it. ; )

Johanna GGG said...

I want to make both but figs aren't in season so I will just have to put them on my wishlist for now - they both look superb

Susan from Food Blogga said...

snooky- Good choice. ;)

rosa-Will do!

teachercooks-I hope you do. They're really lovely.

lisa-Figs in RI? Yeah, that will be a challenge. Keep me posted!

lynn-Good. :)

ann-Good choice!

amyj-I really appreciate that.

mark-Aw, you think so? ;)

jeena-Both is the way to go.

lisa-It's really delicious!

Jennifer- You simply must treat to yourself to a fig cake. Soon!


tastyeatsathome-Yeah, they're grown locally, so we have an abundance. Lucky, indeed. :)

erika-20 pounds? Give me a call next year. I'll be happy to help you pick (and eat) them. ;)

gudrun-I know. California fig season went too quickly on me this year.

aparna-They're worth the wait.

johnanna-Yes, you should indeed! You won't be disappointed. :)

johanna-Many thanks!

Soma said...

Cannot tell you how desperately I feel like eating these RIGHT NOW! Yes the fun of blogging is that you can have as many, but on the other side of it, one can only drool & have none:-( still not seeing figs here.

Love your picture.

Mimi said...

Both cakes look gorgeous. Great recipes to have when generous friends drop off bags of fresh figs.

13moons said...

Those figs are gorgeous, and both of the cakes look wonderful. I agree that it would be hard to choose one to make first.
Both of my grandmothers grew fig trees in their Fort Worth backyards. It's amazing how many figs you can get from one smallish tree!

@Lisa, I saw pics once demonstrating how people in the north kind of folded up the limbs and wrapped up their fig trees in the was really wild looking, but seemed to work for them.


Peter M said...

Susan, I relish your fig recipes and especially 'cause I know your figs are fresh off the tree.

Susan from Food Blogga said...

soma-Hope you get some really soon!

mimi-Those are generous friends indeed!

13moons-Both grandmothers? Now that's lucky! Thanks for your tip too. That was so thoughtful of you.

peter-They are indeed!

Julie said...

I love desserts with FRESH figs...and you gave us 2 gorgeous cakes! It's too much. I honestly don't know which appeals to me more. I wish fig season would never end.

Suzan said...

Honestly, the fig/walnut/rosemary cake may well be the best thing I've ever put into my mouth!!! I'm making it tonight. It's interesting- you really don't taste the rosemary, but I have a feeling I'd miss it if it wasn't there!

Daphne said...

My SIL and I are making the rosemary, walnut and fig upside down cake right now. Can't wait to taste it! Thanks for the inspiration! It looks like the seasons are totally different because the trees in East TX are full right now in the middle of July.

Susan from Food Blogga said...

suzan-I'm so glad you liked it. Thanks for letting me know!

daphne-You have full figs now? That's reason enough for me to fly to East Texas!

Unknown said...

Hi - Just posted you fig cake on my blog - everyone I shared with loved it

Susan from Food Blogga said...

jennifurla-I'm coming over right now!

yvonne said...

We have a fig tree and we harvest yummy figs each summer. I've baked the Rosemary Fig Cake and it is spectacular!!! Today, I'll bake the other.

yvonne said...

I baked the one with rosemary yesterday and it is spectacular!! The hint of rosemary mixed with the citrus is celebration on my taste buds.Today, I'll be baking the other.

Susan from Food Blogga said...

yvonne-You are such a lucky lady to have your own fig tree! And I'm so happy you made the cake and loved it. I have to admit, it's one of my favorites. I can't wait for fresh figs to make it now!

Anonymous said...

Your fresh fig, walnut and rosemary upside-down cake is THE BEST. Got a fig tree in my front yard; rosemary in my herb garden and lemons abound. This cake is easy, delicious--great for dessert and for breakfast with good, strong coffee. Not as excited about the cake with cornmeal but will give it a try. Thank you, thank you!!!

Jenny M. said...

They both look scrumptious! I just finished baking the upside down cake, since I had those ingredients on hand. Smells heavenly!

Leyla said...

I tried the fig upside down cake. It was good but maybe a little too sweet. I felt like the amount of sugar really overpowered the natural sweetness the figs bring. Also I think 1 stick (8 TBS) butter is too much. It would have been fine with just half a stick.


Lindsey ( said...

Last night I made the Fresh Fig, Walnut, and Rosemary Upside-Down Cake and it was fabulous. Thank you for spending time to develop that creation. It was a suberb combination of flavors, just the right amount of Rosemary without being overpowering and the figs baked perfectly and came out soft and supple in my cake. I had some friends over to enjoy it with me. I look forward to coming back here for more deliciousness!

Janet said...

Just cut into the rdig, rosemary and lemon cake - it is the most wonderful creation. I can't stop eating it!!!!!!! Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Made the first good and the presentation is beautiful! Thanks!

Susan from Food Blogga said...

Thanks to all of you lovely ladies who have made the cakes and have given me feedback. I always appreciate hearing from readers! Happy fig eating!

Anonymous said...

Thankyou Food Blogga, thankyou Dorie Greenspan,and thankyou Grandmother! I've got to make morning tea for our playgroup, and now I'm actually excited about it. I think I'll do Dorie's cake, but I'm definitely going to try the other as well, maybe keep that one for home! Thanks again.

Susan from Food Blogga said...

anonymous-You're quite welcome from all of us. :)

LoveAffair Cakes by mirela said...

:) so glad you shared this recipe. I just got a huge bowl of fresh figs from our grandma back yard fig tree . Can not wait to try your grandma's cake..

Susan from Food Blogga said...

LoveAffair-Yay! I'm so happy to hear it. Fresh figs are just starting to appear here in San Diego, so I hope to making the cake again soon too. Enjoy!