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.

Blueberry Plum Pie

After many summers of moving and extended travel, my feet are staying (mostly) in one place this year. As a result, I was able to sign up for a summer CSA (community supported agriculture) share, after contemplating one for several years. CSAs are a way for consumers to buy locally grown produce directly from a farmer by purchasing "shares" of the harvest at the beginning of the season. The goal for the CSA was to introduce and teach me to cook regional and seasonal produce (or, more honestly, push me to learn how to cook in general). Each week, I pick up my CSA produce box from the local farmer's market. The contents are usually a surprise, containing whatever was ready to harvest from the farm the evening before.

Back in June, I marveled over the tender asparagus and fought my boyfriend for the soft, buttery lettuce (the  best of my entire life) from the first box. Midway through the summer, the CSA has consisted of just as many unfamiliar vegetables as those I recognize. I have learned how to roast turnips with potatoes, slice bok choy for stir fry, hide endless amounts of summer squash in tomato sauce, and embrace an unexpected love for kohlrabi.

Out of necessity, I started keeping a written tally of what needs to be eaten on the refrigerator door. At least I can finally say that I actually do eat my vegetables. 

At the farmer's market last week, I picked up 6 pints of blueberry "seconds" in addition to the CSA. Though many of the "seconds" were battered and broken, I sorted and gathered together enough blueberries for a pie. Since a handful of plums were already sitting on the kitchen counter, it seemed an opportune moment to pair these fruits together. I covered the fruit in pastry and let it bubble and sing in the oven.

After my first bite, I have nothing but praise for this dreamy flavor combination. Blueberries and plums are a  tour de force

Blueberry Plum Pie is a fruit-focused pastry with a burst of flavor. Fresh blueberries and sliced plums come together in a lattice-topped pie. A teaspoon of cinnamon is added to give the fruit a subtle warmth, which adds to the overall profile. Serve warm or chilled with a side of vanilla ice cream and a friend. 

One Year Ago: Olive Oil Pound Cake
Two Years Ago: Paris Holiday and Provence & the French Riviera
Three Years Ago: Cookie Dough Cake & Blueberry Braided Bread
Four Years Ago: Blackberry Coffee Cake, Dark & Stormy, Blueberry Cream Cheese Cupcakes, & S'mores Pancakes
Five Years Ago: Oregon Coast, Banana Cake, S'mores Pie, & Grilled Honeyed Apricots
Six Years Ago: Roasted Cherry Coconut Ice Cream

Blueberry Plum Pie

Yields 9-inch pie

1 double crust pie dough recipe
1 pound (450 grams) plums, pitted and sliced
1 pound (450 grams) fresh blueberries
1 cup (200 grams) granulated sugar
1/2 cup (60 grams) all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons lemon juice
Egg wash (1 large egg + 1 tablespoon water, whisked), for brushing
Granulated sugar, for sprinkling

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C).

In a large mixing bowl, gently stir together the sliced plums, blueberries, sugar, flour, cinnamon, and lemon juice until the berries are evenly coated. Set aside.

Form the pie dough into a disk and divide it into a 60/40 ratio (if using store-bought crust, do not worry about this step). On a lightly floured surface, roll out the larger section of dough into a 14-inch round circle. Carefully transfer it to a 9-inch pie pan and trim the excess pie dough to create a 1-inch overhang. Tuck the dough overhang under itself so it is even with the pie dish. Fill the pie crust with the berry mixture.

On a lightly floured surface, roll out the smaller section of pie dough. Using a pizza cutter and a ruler, cut out 3/4-inch wide strips of dough. Layer the strips over the top of the pie in a decorative fashion and trim so they are even with the edge of the pie pan. Using a fork, press down along the edge to seal the bottom and top layer together.

Using a pastry brush, brush the top of the pie crust with egg wash and sprinkle granulated sugar over the pie crust. Bake the pie for 15 minutes at 425 degrees F (220 degrees C). Then, lower the oven temperature to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). If necessary, cover the edges of the pie crust with aluminum foil to prevent further browning. Bake an additional 50-65 minutes, or until the lattice and crust are evenly browned. 

For perfect slices, cool for at least 3-5 hours (or overnight). Serve with whipped cream or ice cream, if desired.