Wednesday, September 2, 2015


Fresh fig and extra-virgin olive oil cake

I love the end of summer for a variety of reasons: Days are getting cooler, the sun is not slapping me in the face at every occasion, the kids are back at school, people have stopped asking me to go to the pool (it's not happening—way too much work), and mosquitoes seem less ferocious after two months of vampirism. My favorite season, fall, is peeking at me from the end of September with its lovely smile, and I feel happy. To make things even better, my favorite fruit has come back to me: Oh juicy, sweet fig, welcome back to my supermarket shelves! I'd plant a tree for you in a heartbeat, but I don't want to share you with my neighborhood rats.

To celebrate, I decided to work my beloved figs into yet another recipe. I looked inside my pantry, and was reminded of a 5-gallon tank of family produced extra-virgin olive oil that my father brought over from Italy, so I thought about a fresh fig and olive oil cake. Perfectly Mediterranean, and perfect for the cool days of summer's end. I used this recipe for a Rustic Olive Oil Cake with Honey Syrup from Serious Eats as a base cake, and made a few modifications. Namely, I cut the sugar amount in half and counted on the fig to provide most of the sweetness. And no Grand Marnier, just Meyer lemons. Finally, I replaced the milk with plain kefir, which worked brilliantly and delivered a fantastic moistness to the cake.

And about this, always (ALWAYS) add yogurt or kefir to your cakes. I've been doing this for almost 20 years now because it works wonderfully in keeping your cakes moist and soft. Did I just say 20 years? How is that even possible?!? Did I really start not only making desserts but willfully tweaking recipes that long ago? I'm shocked. Better have a slice of fig cake to calm myself down.

And if you need more figs ideas, check these old posts:


Fresh fig and extra-virgin olive oil cake.


2 C all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp kosher salt
1 1/4 C plain kefir (or 1 C milk and 1/4 C plain yogurt)
2 Meyer lemons (for juice and zest)
3 eggs
1 C sugar
10-12 figs or whatever you have or it takes, halved 
powdered cocoa
  • Heat the oven to 375 degrees.
  • Line a 9'' round cake mold with parchment paper. 
  • In a large bowl, stir the flour with the baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  • In a smaller bowl, mix the kefir with the juice of the Meyer lemons, and then stir in the zest from one of them.
  • In yet another small bowl, whisk together the eggs and the sugar, and then slowly pour in the EVOO, whisking constantly.
  • Add the contents of the two smaller bowls to the dry ingredient, in batches. 
  • Stir in until combined.
  • Pour the batter into the cake mold, and the top with the halved figs.
  • Back from about 50-60 minutes, or until the cake appears lightly browned on the top, and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
  • Dust cake with powdered cocoa.
Best served at room temperature or warm.

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