Friday, August 23, 2013

Fig and Almond Cake

 Sometimes you get to a place, and you know. You know that that place is special, and you have to be there. That one day, somehow, you're going to live there, and it's going to be amazing. This view of the city is skewed, sure, due to the fact that you're probably on vacation at the time, but the feeling is real all the same.
 That's exactly how I felt about Paris. When I was in Berlin and London a couple of weeks ago,  I loved the cities and thought they were beautiful. But when I got to Paris, something was different - it felt, somehow, like that was where I should be.
 Maybe it was the city's beauty, or the pastry school I visited where I was surrounded by young bakers like me for the fist time, or the meals out with some great people, or the hours spent walking around with no particular destination. Either way, it was perfect. And I need to go back.
 Coming back to New York has been a bit of a shock. It's been fun seeing friends, sleeping in my own bed again, and even getting ready for the start of the school year - but I miss Paris. I miss walking along the river at midnight on the way back from the Eiffel Tower, trying to learn phrases beyond "Bonjour!" and "Merci!" in French, and searching for the city's best bakeries.
 So until I can go to Paris again, I'm trying to bring some parts of that vacation into New York life. Yesterday, my friend and I walked 70 blocks through the city, from the financial district all the way up to midtown, to get used to it all again and see what tourists are so fascinated by. I've been spending time online, looking at more Parisian pastry schools and apartments for rent. Most importantly, I'm trying to recreate some of the wonderful food we had there.
As a way to ease myself back into the kitchen, I wanted something simple (before the eclairs I'm working on today...). My dad saw this recipe in the newspaper and begged me to make it for him - so I figured why not. And it was great.
A moist almond cake, slightly crunchy from the almonds ground at home (don't skip this step), is studded with sweet, ripe figs sprinkled with sugar right before baking. The figs and sugar become almost jam-like, and this cake is just as delicious as it is lovely to look at.
So maybe I can't live in Paris. But I know that I can bring some of its great qualities into my own life, with the help of some sugar and maybe a lot of butter.
Fig and Almond Cake

4 tablespoons butter, melted, plus butter for greasing pan
1 cup natural raw almonds (not blanched)
1/4 cup sugar, plus 2 tablespoons for sprinkling (I used sparkling sugar for sprinkling)
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon salt
3 eggs, beaten
2 tablespoons honey
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
12 to 14 ripe figs

Heat oven to 375 degrees F. Butter a 9" fluted tart pan or pie pan; set aside. Put almonds and 1/4 cup sugar in a food processor and grind to a coarse powder. Add flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt; pulse to combine.
In a mixing bowl, whisk together eggs, melted butter, honey and almond extract. Add almond mixture and beat for a minute until batter is just mixed. Pour batter into pan.
Remove stem from each fig and cut in half. Arrange fig halves cut-side up over the batter. Sprinkle figs with sugar and bake for 30 minutes, until golden outside and dry at center when probed with a cake tester. Cool before serving.


Cathleen said...

Sophia, this looks incredibly delicious! I am bookmarking this recipe. Thanks for sharing this one!

Sophia said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sophia said...

Thank you Cathleen! Let me know if you make it :)

Cathleen said...

Sophia, I made this for our girl's night last night. I can not believe how incredibly easy it was! I really liked the texture of the cake. And of course the figs - I love anything with figs. Thanks again for sharing. :)

Sophia said...

I'm so glad you liked it!