Friday, April 11, 2014

Today I had some extra time and some extra almond flour left over from making macarons, a situation I thought called for some baking. Flipping through my copy of Nigel Slater's Ripe, I found just the thing: an apricot almond cake with apricot purée. Sadly having no fresh apricots on hand, I decided to forego the purée and just make the cake, which uses dried apricots. Dried apricots are usually a staple in my pantry, so I began to assemble my ingredients. To my horror, I opened the cabinet only to find it utterly void of apricots of any sort! I rifled through the shelves, silently cursing the family member who dared eat from our communal food supply, finally happening upon my savior: dried figs. Figs are one of my favorite fruits, and their fleeting season makes them extra special. Luckily, though, I can enjoy them year-round in their dried form. In this particular moment, I thought their subtle sweetness would pair perfectly with an almond cake. Plus, fresh or dried, I think they're just lovely to look at.

The cake itself was lovely too, though a little heavy. It was buttery and dense, almost more like shortbread, which was alright by me. A little sliver with a dollop of whipped cream is the perfect after dinner treat.

You'll have to forgive my lack of a photograph of the finished product, but here is the recipe!

Fig and almond cake (From Nigel Slater's Ripe: A Cook in the Orchard)
250g unsalted butter
250g sugar
75g almond flour
100g all-purpose flour
100g dried figs
4 large eggs, beaten
juice and zest of 1 lemon

Line the bottom of a 9" cake pan with parchment paper and preheat oven to 350F
Cream butter and sugar together in a stand mixer.
In a separate bowl, combine almond and AP flours.
Give the figs a whirl in the food processor until they are very finely chopped - almost a purée, but not quite.
With the mixer on low, add the beaten eggs to the butter and sugar a little at a time.
Turn the machine off and add the lemon zest and about 1/3 of the flour mixture, then mix on low until incorporated. Add the second and third batches of flour, mixing after each.
Finally, with the mixer still on low, add the lemon juice and the figs.
Transfer the batter to the prepared cake pan and bake for 35 minutes.
Run a knife around the edge of the pan to loosen, place a piece of parchment paper on a wire cooling rack and sprinkle it with sugar. Turn the cake out onto the sugared paper and allow to cool.
Serve with a dollop of whipped cream or a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

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