This Fresh Fig and Apple Cake is the solution to a quandary I’ve had for a while. Late summer would come, figs would show up at the markets and the thought of a nice cake with almond flour matching the taste of the figs just seemed right. But I was never happy with the results.
Using the Zous Chef analytical techniques I researched ingredients and came up with a winner. The resulting cake came from one significant addition and many subtractions.
Late summer, on the edge of fall, brings apples along with the figs. Once I saw this ingredient mentioned I knew it was the perfect accompaniment for the figs.
I had previously tested, and ignored even more, suggestions for ingredients for a fig cake. For example, almond extract is often added. I found it an unwelcome astringency I did not like. Honey is likely the most common additional ingredient. To me, it was an unwelcome sweet-on-sweet (of the fig) that did not add anything. Nutmeg, cinnamon, all sorts of jellies, etc. did not help.
So What flavor did I settle on?
What I determined worked the best was the simplicity of vanilla — preferably added through vanilla sugar instead of vanilla extract. But either works. If you have never created your own vanilla sugar I have a brief discussion below. It is easy.
The bonus of the apples in the Fresh Fig and Apple Cake is being able to alternate fig and apple circles in your tart pan. Simply start from the outside and work inwards. This gives a great visual impact without a great deal of effort.
Making vanilla sugar is pretty easy. You need an airtight container, a vanilla bean, and about 2 cups of sugar. Add the vanilla bean and the sugar to the container, close it and wait about a week or two. That is it.
“Wait a minute,” you say. “Shouldn’t I split the bean and scrape the seeds out?” Well, you can, but then you have the seeds in your sugar that look like black specks. That is not really bad depending on what you want to do with the sugar, but not really necessary. I find the sugar adsorbs the vanilla just fine with not splitting and keeps well for months. Furthermore, maybe more importantly, I can continue adding sugar into the container to replace what I use, with no significant change in taste.
- 12-16 fresh figs, stem removed, sliced in half
- 1 or 2 medium apples (sweeter variety)
- 140g (1 ½ cup) almond flour
- 70g (½ cup plus 1 Tablespoon) flour
- ¼ heaping teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- 113g butter (1 stick or 8 Tablespoons), softened at room temperature
- 150g (¾ cup) vanilla sugar; if vanilla sugar is not available, substitute 150g of plain sugar and ¾ teaspoon vanilla extract)
- 3 large eggs, at room temperature
- Preheat the oven to 350°F.
- Grease a 9" tart pan with butter.
- Whisk all the dry ingredients except the sugar (almond flour, flour, salt, and baking powder) in a bowl.
- Using a mixing bowl with the paddle attachment, whip the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Incorporate the eggs one at a time, scraping down as needed.
- Stir the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients a bit at a time (3 or 4 additions) at a low speed. Do not overmix.
- Transfer the batter into the prepared pan and smooth out so it is evenly distributed.
- Peel, core, and slice the apples. Slices can be as thick as you like - somewhere between ¼ to ½ an inch. (Thinner slices can be arranged with more overlap.)
- To arrange the fig halves and apple slices on the batter, start by placing the fig slices on the dough on the outer edge. Push down slightly into the dough. Complete the circle, Then add a circle of apple slices inside the circle of figs. Overlap the apple slices somewhat, and again push down slightly into the dough. The thinner the slices, the more overlapping you can do. Lastly, add a circle of fig halves inside the apple slices. (Note: exactly how all this will space out is dependent on the sizes of the figs and apples -- adjust as needed.)
- Bake on a center rack for 30-35 minutes or until a tester inserted in the center comes out clean.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 12 Serving Size: 1 slice
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 180Total Fat: 11gSaturated Fat: 5.5gTrans Fat: 0.3gUnsaturated Fat: 5.6gCholesterol: 67mgSodium: 144mgCarbohydrates: 19gFiber: 3.3gSugar: 14gProtein: 3.3g