Let’s face it: school has started, days are shorter, and fall is coming. Besides school, the other thing that in my mind is indissolubly linked to fall is figs. I always thought figs are the way summer softly waves goodbye at us: they are sweet, of a sweetness nurtured by those summer sunny laziness that we recall nostalgically while eating them. They comfortingly tell us that yes, summer is leaving, but ce n’est qu’un au revoir. It will be back.
In case there were still any doubts about it, let me disclose that I wholeheartedly love figs (particularly the black ones). Actually, they are one of the reasons why I love fall too. I can become quite addicted to this little fruits when they are in season, and I was very happy to get hold of two baskets of black mission figs at the grocery store the other day. While walking home I realised that there are so many delicious things that one can do with figs, that I would not know where to begin.
So I decided to start with something simple, and yet very special: I folded them into a cake. Except this is not just any other regular cake, but a sweet, very moist almond and ricotta cake, with ruby red figs sliced open on top and a crunchy sugar crust. Upon tasting, I think I could not have asked for a better start of fall season.
Ingredients (makes one 8” cake or a loaf pan)
- 6 tablespoons butter (90g)
- 1/4 cup sugar (50g)
- 1 egg
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 cups chopped figs (170g) + 4-5 figs cut in half to decorate
- 1 cup all purpose flour (125g)
- ½ cup almond meal (45g)
- 1/3 cup ricotta (80g)
- 2 tablespoons milk (if needed)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease a 8’’ spring form cake (or a loaf pan) and sprinkle the bottom and sides with sugar. This will give the cake the crunchy sugary crust.
Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the egg, beating it well into the butter, and the ricotta.
Whisk together the flour, almond meal, baking powder, and salt. Add it to the butter mixture and mix until incorporated. Add the milk and mix until well-combined (the batter should not be liquid but not too thick either, so add 1 tablespoon of milk at the time and see whether more is needed). Fold in the chopped figs mixing carefully.
Spoon the batter in the pan, and top with the remaining figs cut in half, pressing them gently on the surface (but don’t press them too much into the batter, or they will end up being entirely submerged when the cake raises). Sprinkle with a bit more sugar to get a crunchy crust and bake 60-70 minutes.Enjoy the bright side of fall!