Fig and Almond Buttermilk Cake

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I’ll be the first to admit that the photos of this cake do not do it justice. I’m still working on my food photography skills and this one just didn’t work out. I’m hoping to make it again and hopefully get some better photos up. For now, you’ll have to trust me that this simple, one layer cake is freakin’ amazing. I used our buttermilk cake recipe from HERE and adapted it for a combination of figs and almonds. The resulting cake was incredibly moist, but light. The figs baked into the cake and almost melted. Wanting to try cake for breakfast? This is a good choice!

This cake used whole wheat pastry flour and coconut sugar, making it much darker in color than it would be with all purpose flour and white cane sugar. If you haven’t tried coconut sugar yet, this would be a great recipe with which to start. Coconut sugar is a minimally processed sugar that is sustainably harvested from the sap of coconut trees. Unlike cane sugar or even brown sugar, coconut sugar is a low glycemic food (glycemic index of 35) that has 36 times the amount of iron as brown sugar and 16 amino acids. It is also high in potassium, magnesium, zinc, vitamin B1, B2, B3 and B6. It is considered safe to use for diabetics and can be used as a replacement for cane sugar in 1:1 ratio. Because it is very dark in color, your baking will also take on a rich, dark brown color, so keep that in mind. I don’t particularly care, but if you are baking a white cake, you’ll want to know that in advance.

I dare you to open a bag of coconut sugar, take a deep inhale, and NOT fall in love. I. Dare. You.

Enjoy the figs of late summer! I hope to make this cake a few more times before fig season is officially over. And maybe–well probably–have it for breakfast šŸ™‚

Fig and Almond Buttermilk Cake (makes one 9″ round cake)

  • 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 stick unsalted, organic butter, softened
  • 1 cup coconut sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 large farm egg
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1 pint fresh, organic figs, trimmed and cut in half lengthwise
  • 1/4 cup sliced almonds
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Grease and flour a 9″ round cake pan. Set aside.
  3. In a small mixing bowl, blend the first four ingredients. Set aside.
  4. In the bowl of a mixer, combine the softened butter and the sugar and beat well for about 2 minutes.
  5. Add the vanilla, almond extract and egg to the butter mixture and beat until blended.
  6. With the mixer on low, alternately add the flour and buttermilk, starting and ending with the flour. Mix until just blended.
  7. Add the batter to the pan, spreading evenly. Top with the fig halves and almond slices.
  8. Bake for 20 minutes, or until a toothpick poked in the center comes out clean.
  9. Cool cake in the pan for 10 minutes, then remove cake to a cooling rack to cool completely.
  10. Serve slightly warm.
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Fig and Goat Cheese Pizza

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Seeing figs at the farmer’s market is a bittersweet thing. On the one hand, I love figs, and I’m almost out of Sticky Fig Jam, so I’m ready to get moving to make some more. On the other hand, the arrival of figs means the end of summer, which is always a sad time for me. Recipes like this Fig and Goat Cheese Pizza give me a reason to smile, though! This pizza is incredibly simple and very, very tasty. The way the end of summer should be, right?

For this pizza, I used fresh, local goat cheese and onions and figs from our farmer’s market. The onions in this recipe are caramelized quickly using a “cheat” of vinegar and sugar, but you can skip the sugar if you want–it gives the onions the flavor of caramelization without the long cooking time, but you can do what works for you. Don’t skimp on the balsamic vinegar though–the pairing of the vinegar with the onions and the cheese is pretty spectacular. We used coconut sugar in our recipe, mostly because we have it handy and I am totally in love with it. It is sustainably produced and has a flavor almost like brown sugar, but is minimally processed and closer to a natural state. I wouldn’t buy it just for this pizza, but it’s worth trying in all kinds of baked dishes.

Fig and Goat Cheese Pizza (Serves 2)

  • 1 recipe whole wheat pizza crust (see below or use your own)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large, sweet organic onion, cleaned and sliced thin
  • 1/4 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon coconut sugar (or organic, unbleached cane sugar)
  • 2 tablespoons good quality balsamic vinegar
  • 6 ounces goat cheese
  • 10-12 fresh organic figs, trimmed and cut lengthwise into thirds
  • 1 cup grated, fresh Parmesan cheese
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Prepare pizza dough and let rise according to recipe directions.
  3. In a medium size skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add onion and cook over medium heat for about 5 minutes or until translucent and soft. Sprinkle with salt to help the onion release its juices (this will help keep it from browning too fast). Reduce heat if onion starts to brown or burn.
  4. Add balsamic vinegar and sugar to the onion, reduce heat to low and let simmer for about 20 minutes. Stir frequently and make sure onion does not burn.
  5. Stretch and shape the pizza dough into your desired shape onto a baking sheet or pizza stone (our pizzas are almost never really round, and we are okay with that!).
  6. Mash the goat cheese and distribute evenly over the pizza dough surface.
  7. Top the goat cheese with the caramelized onions.
  8. Arrange the fig slices on top of the goat cheese. Top the pizza with the Parmesan cheese.
  9. Bake at 400 degrees for 12-15 minutes or until the crust is cooked and the cheese is bubbly and melted.
  10. Serve immediately.

Sticky Fig Jam

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Figs are one of those fruits that fascinate me. Outside of a fig newton, I had never tasted figs until I was in college, and even then it was out of desperation. Putting myself through college, my work life involved manyĀ carefully thought outĀ random part-time jobs that, pieced together, allowed me to live in a cute apartment with a good friend and eat mostly Cheerios and Ramen Noodles. Yes, I was living the high life. One of my jobs was giving tours at a local open air museum, and occasionally I was assigned to work a ticket booth that was labeled The Dead Zone because no one (and I mean NO ONE) ever used that entrance. While it was a failure at generating ticket revenue, I actually lovedĀ working in that little ticket boothĀ because I could take a good book and read for hours uninterrupted. Well, mostly uninterrupted.

You see, the ticket booth in question was near a very large fig tree whose canopy extended over the museum fence and shaded the city sidewalk on the other sideĀ (this was Florida, fig trees grow BIG). Did I know this was a fig tree? Uh, no. Did I know I could pick figs and eat them? Uh, no. My suburban upbringing left me woefully unprepared to forage for my own survival. KatnissĀ Everdeen would have kicked my a**.

And then, I met two little boys. One day, these boys came by my ticket booth carrying plastic grocery bags and asked me if they could pick the figs on the other side of the fence. Their mom had sent them up the street with an assignment and she must have been paying them, because they were all kinds of serious. I told them to go ahead and pick what they wanted. What did I care? I was getting paid to read Edith Wharton. Then I got curious. Figs? As in FOOD? I watched the boys pick the figs and eat some. I tried one.Ā I was hooked.Ā The boys came back several times over the summer and I always enjoyed hearing their conversations from across the fence. Sometimes they would ask me questions about the museum, but mostly they were all business. And so was I. I think I ate my weight in figs that summer.

And thus began my love of figs, which were not only delicious (and freeā€“thank you Florida taxpayers), but they were probably the only fresh fruit I ate all summer. If it werenā€™t for some ginormous, multicolored treeĀ dinosaursĀ grasshoppers that scared years off my life when I saw them, I probably would have picked the tree clean.

Had I known how to cook, I probably could have made better use of those figs. If I had known aboutĀ THISĀ recipe from my friend Heather atĀ Sugar Dish Me, I would have totally made that (and I will as soon as I get me some more figs!).Ā Figs are just coming into season here in central NC and I plan to sock away as many as I can. I found this recipe for sticky fig jam inĀ ā€œPut ā€˜Em Upā€Ā (LOVE this book) and it is absolutely delicious. The blend of figs and balsamic vinegar is pretty amazing. Itā€™s great on toast, but we have enjoyed it on pork tenderloin, on pizza, over cream cheese as a dip and on grilled cheese sandwiches as well. Figs are also one of those great fruits that can be frozen whole for up to 6 months, so if you can’t decide what to do with them, just pop them in the freezer!

Last year, a friend gave me a fig tree cutting and our little tree is growing nicely. We even harvested one fig this summer! I need to talk with Tom about planting another fig treeā€¦and finding meĀ a ticket boothā€¦I miss Edith Whartonā€¦

Sticky Fig Jam

  • 2 lbs. figs, washed, stemmed and cut into halves or quarters
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 c. balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 c. bottled lemon juice
  1. Add figs and water to a non-reactive stock pot and heat over medium for about 5 minutes, until the figs begin to soften.
  2. Use a potato masher to mash the figs.
  3. Add the sugar, vinegar and lemon juice and stir well. Simmer for about 20-30 minutes, until the mixture is thick and sticky. Test for gel by putting a spoonful of the jam on a plate. If you run your finger through the jam, it should stay separated.
  4. You can put the mixture into jars and refrigerate for up to 2 weeks or can into half-pint or 4 oz. jars using a hot water bath for 10 minutes. Let jars sit in the canning pot for an additional 5 minutes with the heat off and the lid removed.
  5. Remove jars from the bath and let sit for 24 hours. Test seals and store for up to 1 year.

Grilled Cheese and Sticky Fig Jam

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Who doesn’t like a gooey grilled cheese sandwich? These late winter days are teasing us with warmer daytime temperatures, but reminding us it’s still winter at night. Perfect weather for grilled cheese sandwiches and homemade tomato soup! We still have some of our sticky fig jam in the pantry, so I have taken to experimenting a bit. This combination of melty sharp cheddar and sweet figs was really good.

I’m not going to post a recipe for grilled cheese sandwiches–everyone has their own special technique šŸ™‚ I added about 2 tbsp. sticky fig jam (you can use fig preserves) to the sandwich before cooking. The heat made the jam and cheese melty and delicious! Try it!

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