A Surfeit of Figs

by Lisa Rosen on September 23, 2011

The figs are coming in–all at once.  The rain is causing them to split on the tree, so I’m having to pick them a couple of times a day to stay ahead of the birds and squirrels (because I REFUSE to share fresh figs with vermin–REFUSE).  As a result, there are figs piled up in the kitchen–on the counter, in the (functional–hallelujah!) fridge, and in various jars and pots.

I’m eating them on sandwiches (with stinky, salty cheeses), in crumbles, as jam, broiled with brown sugar, and just straight up, out of hand

Yesterday, because I was running out of ideas and had a couple of pounds needing to be used (and also because it was raining), I decided to try something a little dessert-ier.  I dug out an old recipe I’ve had for years, and made an executive decision to substitute figs for the tiny Italian plums it originally called for.  I mean, why not?  Worst case scenario, the figs (which are a bit watery at this point) would just be a leaky mess, and I’d toss the whole thing.  That wouldn’t be the end of the world.

It wasn’t a disaster, though.  It was delightful.  The figs were a little heavy, perhaps, and sunk more deeply into the batter than I expected, but otherwise it was perfect.

Caveat:  no one else in my house likes this.  I think that’s because they dont’t like figs (Lee) or anything that doesn’t contain chocolate (the children).  It can’t be because the cake isn’t good, though, because it’s lovely.  It’s like a moist, mild banana bread, studded with sweet, juicy figs and their crunchy little seeds.

And apparently I’ll be eating the whole thing myself.

This is a recipe that Marian Burros originally published years ago in The New York Times; it has since been reprinted in books and all over the internet.

New Age Plum (or Fig!) Torte

1/2 stick butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 bananas, peeled and cut in large chunks
1/2 cup egg substitute
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 t. baking powder
1/2 lemon
six figs, or enough to make a pretty pattern on top, trimmed and halved, top to bottom
cinnamon sugar

Preheat oven to 350.

Cream together butter, sugar, and banana till well-blended.  Beat in egg substitute, then add flour and baking powder and mix until combined.

Pour batter into  an ungreased springform pan* (mine is 8 inches).  Arrange the fig halves, skin side down, on top of the torte.  Squeeze the lemon half over the top, then sprinkle generously with cinnamon sugar.

Bake for 45-60 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Let cool for ten minutes or so.  Run a thin blade around the edge to loosen, then remove the ring of the springform pan.  Serve lukewarm.

*I haven’t tried this without a springform pan, but if you don’t have one, try an 8 or 9 inch cake pan, and grease it–maybe even line it with parchment.  Let me know how it works out if you try it.




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