I stayed in last night and watched Julie and Julia on TV for the eighth time. I know that sounds sad and pathetic but that movie is so entertaining. Every time I see Meryl Streep as Julia Child I have to smile. I think she brings an honesty to her role that many actors would not have dared to try. Her acting ability is amazing and I have enjoyed her in any of her various roles.
I can really relate to the Julie Powell’s character played by Amy Adams. I understand her love of cooking, her passion for blogging and her willingness to push herself to become a better cook and a better writer. I also understand doing all of that while working full-time, running a business part-time and trying to keep relationships balanced.
Life is a journey and sometimes a juggling act. I am convinced that it is all worth it if you bring your best efforts to everything that you do.
Fall is passing quickly and I wanted to get some great harvest recipes out to you before it ends. Since I have discovered the great taste of fresh figs I am constantly looking for new and interesting recipes that highlight their unique flavour.
This fig cake is rich and dense and is best served warm.
Makes 8 to 10 servings
¾ cup ruby port
1 cup honey
2 thin slices lemon
16-20 fresh figs, stemmed and halved
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
½ cup yellow cornmeal
2 tsp. baking powder
¼ tsp. salt
¼ cup sugar
Grated zest of ½ lemon
1 ½ sticks unsalted butter, cut into 6 pieces, at room temperature
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
Stir the port and ½ cup honey together in a small saucepan. Toss in the lemon slices and bring to a boil over medium heat. Lower the heat, add the figs, cover the pan and cook for 4 to 6 minutes, or until the figs are soft but not falling apart. Using a slotted spoon, transfer figs to a bowl. Raise the heart just a little and cook the poaching liquid for another 10 to 15 minutes, or until slightly thickened; the syrup should coat a metal spoon. Remove the pan from the heat and set the sauce aside.
Centre a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a 9-inch springform pan. Line the bottom with parchment paper, butter the paper and dust inside of the pan with flour, tapping out the excess. Put the pan on a baking sheet lined with parchment or a silicone mat.
Whisk together the flour, cornmeal, baking powder and salt. Put the sugar and grated zest in the bowl of a stand mixer or another large bowl, rub them together with your fingertips until the sugar is moist, grainy and aromatic. Toss in the butter. With the paddle or whisk attachment or with a hand mixer, beat the butter and sugar together on medium speed until creamy, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs one by one, beating for 1 minute after each addition. Pour in the remaining ½ cup honey, add the vanilla extract and beat for another 2 minutes. The mixture may look curdled and not so pretty-keep mixing. It will get better soon. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the dry ingredients, mixing only until they are incorporated. The batter will be fairly thick.
Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and jiggle the pan from side to side a few times to even the batter, then scatter poached figs over the top.
Bake for 55 to 60 minutes, or until the cake is puffed and golden brown and a knife inserted into the centre comes out clean. Transfer the cake to a rack and cool for 10 minutes before running a blunt knife around the edges and releasing the sides of the pan.
Cool the cake slightly warm or to room temperature before serving it with the sauce. Cake slices can be topped with whipped cream, if desired.
Recipe from Baking by Dorie Greenspan