Roasted Fig & Almond Cake

The wind carries a chill, an edge that scents the air with a hint of sweet decay, a reminder of events soon to unfold. The sun rises later each morning, streaking the sky with bold hues of fuchsia and orange on the morning drive to work. Rain drizzles from the sky in lazy streams, the clouds both blue and weary. Autumn has arrived, unpacking her bags slowly and settling in for the next few months without fanfare.

Even though I may dismay over the end of summer and her beautiful weather, the change of the seasons has a way of breathing new life into an old rhythm. The start to a new school year, the warm embrace of the oven, and the appearance of fall fruits at the market have given the transition a gentle touch.

Last weekend, in my haste to enjoy as much fall produce asI could carry, I purchased too many figs at the market... again. While fresh, ripe figs are delicious, my personal favorite are figs that have been cooked down so the flavor concentrates and the fruit releases its sweet juices. With this in mind, I sliced my fig bounty in half, brushing the open face with honey and roasting them in the oven until they started sizzling. Half of the figs were chopped and folded into a honey sweetened almond cake batter and the rest were pressed on top in concentric circles.

This cake may be a simple one, without glaze or icing, but when the slices are topped with a honey sweetened yogurt before serving, each fig-filled forkful is a celebration of the new season.

This Roasted Fig and Almond Cake brings out the warm flavors of fall. Figs are brushed with honey and roasted to concentrate the flavor. The roasted figs are then baked into an almond cake, which is sweetened with additional honey and spiced with a touch of cinnamon. The honey caramelizes and a toasted almond flavor emerges, adding another layer of dimension to the cake's final figgy flavor. Serve with honey sweetened yogurt and a mug of warm, milky tea.

One Year Ago: Blueberry Honey Scones 
Two Years Ago: Homemade Chocolate Hazelnut Spread, Calm of the Coast, & Espresso Chocolate Chip Coffee Cake
Three Years Ago: Vanilla Ice Cream Cake, Honeyed Apricot Granola Bars, & Chocolate Banana Chip Cookies
Four Years Ago: Caramelized Leek Biscuits, Zucchini Chocolate Chip Muffins, Cinnamon Roll Cookies, Bourbon Peach Jam, Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Scones, & Brown Butter Pear Muffins
Five Years Ago: Zucchini Bread, Lemon Blueberry Scones, 3 Milk Coconut Cake, Tomato Basil Tart, & Whole Wheat Irish Soda Bread
Six Years Ago: Bittersweet Chocolate Pear Cake, Strawberry Shortcake, Brown Sugar Coconut Bubble Tea, & Cinnamon Chocolate Banana Bread

Roasted Fig & Almond Cake

Yields 9-inch cake

24 ounces (680 grams) ripe fresh figs, de-stemmed and cut in half
3/4 cup (255 grams) honey, divided
12 tablespoons butter, room temperature
1/4 cup (50 grams) brown sugar, packed
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
1 cup (112 grams) almond flour
2 cups (240 grams) all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C).

Place figs face up on parchment-lined baking sheet. Brush the figs with 1/4 cup honey. Roast in the oven for 20-25 minutes, or until they release juices and are fragrant. Set aside.

Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C).

In a large bowl, beat together the butter, brown sugar, and remaining 1/2 cup honey until uniform. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, until uniform. Stir in the vanilla and almond extract. Fold in the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt.

Roughly chop half of the roasted figs into bite-sized pieces. Fold chopped pieces into the cake batter. Pour cake batter into greased 9-inch cake pan. Top the cake batter with remaining fig halves, placing them in a circular pattern.

Bake cake for 40-45 minutes, or until cake is browned and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool in pan for 10 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack to cool completely.

Serve with honey sweetened yogurt, if desired.

Fig Oatmeal Bars

I escaped to the mountains. An end of summer restlessness has been holding me close the last few weeks, and I needed an escape before the school year started up again. A breath of fresh mountain air and a few handfuls of ripe mountain cherries felt like the cure.  As someone who organizes the minute details of daily life, purchasing two last minute plane tickets to the foothills of the Rocky Mountains was not in the plan, but I am trying to teach myself that life doesn't need to be so scripted. 

When we reached the mountains, we hiked away from routine and took a step into the unfamiliar. We walked along a well trodden path only a few feet wide for miles, a ledge on one side and a rock face on the other. We filled our hands with cold running water from glacial runoff, drinking deeply.  We rested on boulders as large as cars, feeling the sharpness of the sun's warmth at high altitude. We were privy to an impromptu guided tour from a mountain goat, who preferred the ease of the path to the steepness of the cliffs.

The view was the greatest of nature's design, of distant snow-topped peaks, of deep forested valleys, of wildflowers within an arm's reach. We stopped for lunch on the top of the world, sitting in silence and eating our way through PB & J sandwiches and fig oatmeal bars. Some moments, I've found, need few words.

Fig Oatmeal Bars make for a sweet, filling snack. Fresh figs are cooked down with brown sugar into a compote and subtly flavored with balsamic vinegar and vanilla. The compote is spread over an oatmeal base and baked until golden. The bars cut beautifully and hold together well without breaking apart or leaving crumbs everywhere. These bars are perfect for packing for a snack on the go and eating wherever life leads you. 

One Year Ago: Iced Matcha Coconut Latte 
Two Years Ago: Salted Chocolate Chunk Cookies and Citrus Zucchini Muffins
Three Years Ago: Date Flapjacks & Nordic Pancake Cake
Four Years Ago: Rum Raisin Oatmeal Cookies, Banana Rum Bread, & Vanilla Cardamom Peach Pie
Five Years Ago: Chocolate Malt Cupcakes, Coconut Pancakes, Rocky Road Cookies, & Chocolate Beet Cake
Six Years Ago: Chocolate Prune Cake, Espresso Chocolate Chip Shortbread, & Blueberry Muffins

Fig Oatmeal Bars

Yields 8 x 8-inch pan

Fig Compote
1 lb (450 grams) ripe figs, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup (100 grams) brown sugar, packed
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar (optional)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Oatmeal Base
1/3 cup (70 grams) coconut oil, liquid state
1/2 cup (100 grams) brown sugar, packed
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1  cup (120 grams) all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups (135 grams) old fashioned oats
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt

In a large saucepan, bring the chopped figs and brown sugar to a boil over medium-high heat. There is no need to add liquids because the figs will release a considerable amount of juice. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 15-20 minutes, or until figs soften and compote thickens. Remove from heat and set aside. 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C). Lightly grease an 8 x 8-inch pan.

In a large mixing bowl, stir together coconut oil and brown sugar until uniform. Add the egg and vanilla, mixing until blended. Stir in the flour, oats, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt. The batter will be slightly sticky. Using greased hands, press 2/3 of the dough into the bottom of the prepared pan. Spread fig compote evenly over the top. Sprinkle the remaining 1/3 of the dough evenly on top.

Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until lightly browned. Allow to cool slightly in the pan before serving.

Toasted Almond Cookies with Dried Fig Filling

Toasted Almond Cookies with Dried Fig Filling

Toasted Almond Cookies with Dried Fig Filling

I made these cookies for my sweetheart. Whenever I create a flour storm in the kitchen, he keeps his mouth quiet, pretending as if the counter tops were not strewn with powdered sugar and there was not a pile of dishes in the sink stacked so precariously it could rival the Leaning Tower of Pisa. Rarely a peep is heard as I run around taking pictures and get crumbs all over the living room floor. Though he is always willing to give whatever comes out of the oven a fair try (even if he might need a little push), his favorite "experiments" to taste are, hands down, the cookies.

You could say that I am dating a cookie man.

Toasted Almond Cookies with Dried Fig Filling Toasted Almond Cookies with Dried Fig Filling

It was our third anniversary of being together this past month. Worse than a television sitcom where the clueless husband forgets an important anniversary, we both completely spaced out the date, remembering two weeks later as the calendar was flipped over to a new month. I wonder if this is how an old married couple feels, forgetting the important dates as their time together grows. Is simply being around one another enough of a celebration? With the date so far past gone and Valentine's Day right around the corner, it just seems silly to go back and observe the much belated anniversary.

Perhaps I should circle the date with a big red marker on the calendar for next year.

Toasted Almond Cookies with Dried Fig Filling

Even though there was no fanfare, fancy dinner, or real recognition of the special day, there were these Toasted Almond Cookies. Cut out with hearts and filled with honey sweetened figs, they rested in the cookie jar on the counter top, unknowingly appropriate and deliciously celebratory. During the few days that these cookies lasted, the boy and I would sneak them when we thought the other was not looking, trying to hide the fact that we were eating a couple more cookies than we should.

I may be dishearteningly forgetful, but there may be something to be said about a baker's intuition.

Toasted Almond Cookies with Dried Fig Filling Toasted Almond Cookies with Dried Fig Filling

Toasted Almond Cookies with Dried Fig Filling are a twist on the traditional linzer cookie. Almonds are toasted before being ground and turned into cookies. With a dash of cinnamon, the cookies have a bold, beautiful intensity. When sandwiched together with a filling made from dried figs, honey, and brown sugar, a truly unique flavor emerges. The cookies are firm on the first day and soften on the second, providing a range of textures to enjoy.

Read More