Hey guys and girls,
It’s been a bit of a miserable week in London Town this week. The rain has been pelting down on and off, and on more than one occasion I’ve been absolutely drenched. In a way, this shouldn’t even be something to comment on, as it’s pretty standard round here. Anyway, because it’s been a downer, and the clocks will soon be turning back to add to our misery, this week’s recipe is a bit of an autumnal ‘pick me up.’ Much needed after having had to switch from my flats to trainers/boots.
It wasn’t long ago I was on the sunny streets of Istanbul – although it does feel like a distant memory now… And this recipe is inspired by a fig and walnut cake I had the pleasure of eating whilst there. It’s rich, flavoursome, moist and if that’s not enough there’s cream cheese frosting involved. Perfect with a nice hot cup of coffee, best enjoyed on the sofa under a blanket. Thinking about it, a few years ago, the idea of coffee and a spiced cake would have been my last choice, but in my old age (fast approaching quarter century!) I’m opening up my mind, well, taste buds anyway.
And yes, I am seriously contemplating hibernating till spring.
Ingredients (serves 10-12):
- 300g plain flour
- 100g walnuts (More to decorate)
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
- pinch of salt
- 175g unsalted butter, softened
- 175g caster sugar
- 50g light brown muscovado sugar
- 50g dark brown muscovado sugar
- 3 eggs
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 250ml buttermilk
- 3 juicy ripe figs (1 more to decorate)
- 225g figs
- 3 tablespoons caster sugar
- 2 tablespoons lemon juive
- 2 tablespoons water
Cream Cheese Frosting:
- 250g cream cheese
- 250g mascarpone cheese
- 375ml double cream
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 120g icing sugar
- Preheat the oven to gas mark 4.
- In a small tray toast the walnuts for 5-6 minutes in the oven. Cool to room temperature and then blitz in a food processor until you’re left with tiny chunks. Don’t over do it, you don’t want it to be a paste.
- Grease and line two 9 inch loose bottomed baking tins.
- Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg and ginger in a medium bowl. Stir in the ground toasted walnuts.
- In a separate large bowl, cream together the butter and all three sugars. Add the vanilla. One by one, add the eggs, whisking well between each addition.
- Add 1/3 of the flour mix to the creamed sugar and egg mix and whisk well. Add half the buttermilk and whisk well. Repeat. Finally add the last third of the sugar and egg mix, ensuring everything is well combined.
- Chop 3 ripe figs into around 1cm cubes and stir through.
- Split the cake batter between the two prepared baking tins and bake for 25-30mins, until a skewer or cake tester comes out clean. Once these are cooked, let them cool for a couple of minutes in the tins before taking them out and cooling on wire racks.
- In the mean time, start on the fig jam by chopping the figs into quarters and adding all the ingredients to a small/medium pan and cooking on a low heat and stirring frequently, until it thickens, around 15/20mins. Use a potato masher to break the figs down into smaller chunks.
- For the cream cheese frosting, beat together the cream cheese, mascarpone and icing sugar until smooth. Add the vanilla extract and double cream and whisk until thick.
- To assemble, place the first layer of the cake on a cake board – top with around a quarter of the cream cheese mix, spreading evenly with a plastic spatula. Add the jam, spread and then carefully place the the second layer of the cake on top. Cover cake with frosting on top and round the sides, evening it out with a palette knife. To decorate, cut a fig into quarters and place in the center. Sprinkle on walnuts and dust with cinnamon.
Enjoy this delicious little number whilst figs are still in season… I will weep once they’re gone from the shelves.