Anyone who tried fresh figs in any Mediterranean country is likely to be a bit disappointed with American figs. I’m not sure why exactly, but they never taste the same. Since I’m a big fig fan, this is not to say I’ve stopped trying. Whenever I see reasonable looking figs, which is not very often, I buy them and hope this time it’s going to be different.
Unfortunately, once I try them, I start thinking about ways to improve their taste. This time was no different – they were ripe, but still were not as luscious and enjoyable to eat on their own, as with the Mediterranean ones.
As I already was in Mediterranean mode, I’ve decided to add the figs to a cake with other Mediterranean ingredients and flavors. So, soon items like orange blossom honey, olive oil, almonds, anise and fennel seeds, found their way into the cake batter.
The result was very pleasing. The cake was aromatic and light, and the baking processes definitely improved the figs’ flavor. I will definitely make this cake again, with figs or with other Mediterranean fruits. I’m sure you will too, once you’ll try it.
* As I aimed at rustic texture, I used whole almond meal and spelt flour. If you prefer a more delicate texture, you can use blanched almond meal and substitute the spelt with white flour.
* I find the cake to be sweet enough, but if you prefer a sweeter cake, you can increase the amount of sugar to 1 cup, and/or increase the amount of drizzled honey to ½ cup.
* If fennel and anise seeds are not your favorite flavors, you can use cinnamon instead.
Prep time: 20 minutes
Baking time: 30 minutes
2 XL eggs
½ cup unsweetened applesauce
½ cup sugar
¼ cup honey (preferable orange blossom)
1/3 cup olive oil
½ cup fine semolina
½ cup flour
2/3 cup whole spelt flour
½ cup whole almond meal
1 Tbs baking powder
¼ tsp salt
2 tsp fennel seeds
2 tsp anise seeds
For the topping:
½ cup sliced almonds
15 halves small mission figs
For drizzling over the baked cake:
¼ cup honey
1. Preheat the oven to 360F (180C). Line an 8”x11” ((20x 28cm) baking pan with baking paper.
2. In a large bowl, whisk the eggs, applesauce and sugar. Add the honey and olive oil and whisk well. Add semolina, flour, spelt flour, almond meal, baking powder, salt, fennel seeds and anise seeds, and whisk to a fairly thick batter.
3. Pour the batter into the lined pan and scatter the slices almonds over. Arrange the fig halves on top and press them lightly into the batter.
4. Bake for 30 minutes, or until the cakes is golden brown and when inserting a toothpick into the center it comes out clean.
5. Let the cake stand in the pan for 5 minutes before drizzling the ¼ cup honey all over. Holding the baking paper, transfer the cake to a rack, to cool to room temperature before cutting.