Fresh Fig Cake

Today is the first Sunday of the football season. I’ve always been an avid fan, and this year, I joined two fantasy football leagues. I’ve never played fantasy before, but since I spend a considerable amount of time watching and tracking games anyway, I figured “why not put some money on it?”

Well. Turns out when you put some money on it, Sundays go from overly stressing about every single move the Redskins make on the field to overly stressing about every single move every player/team makes on the field.

Suddenly, I found myself obsessing over caring an appropriate amount about who’s starting at running back in Carolina and how many catches Vernon Davis is getting in San Francisco. And given my luck, I drafted all the wrong players, started guys who had terrible days and so far today, am getting killed in both of my leagues.*

Luckily, I had cake. Fresh fig cake, to be exact. I bought some figs on a whim and then realized I had never eaten a fresh fig before. Because my experience with them was limited to disgusting Fig Newtons and divine chocolate-covered figs from Trader Joe’s, I didn’t actually know if I even liked figs, so I decided to bake with them. Anything is good when paired with butter and sugar, right?

The cake is very easy to make, and is lovely: subtly sweet, fruity, nutty (I used some amaranth flour I had lying around [my former roommate had a bunch of alternate flours and left some when she moved. The flour tastes similar to whole wheat, but is gluten-free]). The figs become soft and jammy when baked, and their seeds add a slightly crunchy texture.

I would have liked a stronger olive oil flavor, and might try using all olive oil next time. I also think I’d like to use some cornmeal in the cake, as well as honey instead of regular sugar. But even without all of these changes, this recipe’s a keeper. Paired with tea, it was a calming respite from all of the madness.

(Thankfully, there’s a slice left for tonight, when Peyton Manning suits up — I’m banking on him tearing it up. Maybe. Please?)

*Matthew Stafford has a bad game. Okay, fine. My opponent has Matt Ryan — fine, he’s a good QB. But David Akers?? Man kicks a 63-yard field goal. 63 yards. And my opponent has him. What are the odds.

Fresh Fig Cake
Adapted from Lemons and Anchovies

– 2 large eggs, room temperature

– 2/3 cup sugar

– 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

– 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

– 1/3 cup whole milk

– 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

– 1-1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (I used 3/8 cup amaranth flour + 1-1/8 cups AP flour)

– 3/4 teaspoon baking powder

– pinch kosher salt

– zest of one lemon

– 6 fresh figs, chopped (I used Brown Turkey figs)

1) Preheat the oven to 350F. Butter a 9-inch round cake pan and set aside.

2) In a large bowl, mix the eggs and sugar using an electric mixer until they are thick and pale yellow. Add the butter, oil, milk and vanilla extract, then mix until it’s blended.

3) In a separate bowl, mix the flour, baking powder, salt and lemon zest. Stir the flour into the egg mixture with a spatula until well incorporated. Stir 3/4 of the chopped figs into the batter, then pour the batter into the prepared pan.

4) Bake the cake for 15 minutes, then arrange the rest of the figs on the top of the cake. Bake for 30-35 minutes, until the top is golden brown. Serve with coffee or tea.

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