the saturday post | fig cake for fall

I realized it had been too long since I baked anything and was itching to pull a warm cake out of the oven. My only obstacle was trying to determine just what exactly it was I needed to make. There are always so many choices when it comes to things like this and unfortunately, I want to bake something just wasn't specific enough. But then I saw figs, put them in my cart and strolled home.

The figs still didn't have a purpose just yet, but I had a feeling that once I opened Dorie Greenspan's Baking, their destiny would be sealed. I searched the index, flipped to page 192 and a gorgeous fig and cornmeal cake appeared. This really was the perfect cake to welcome fall. It was also one of the last things I made before our lives changed for the better when we brought home our new puppy, Emma, on September 23rd, which just so happened to be the first day of this new season.

I'm not going to be one of those dog parents that posts pictures left and right on the blog, but I couldn't resist showing you just one because, well, she's just too adorable.

Recipe slightly adapted from Dorie Greenspan's Baking: From my home to yours

I was fresh out of ruby port (ok, I've never had any in my cabinet), and wasn't smitten with the idea of buying some just for this recipe. Instead, I substituted fresh orange juice to make the silky fig sauce. A note on cooking times: My cake was done in about 35-40 minutes, to be sure to check it occasionally to prevent burning.

3/4 cup fresh orange juice
1 cup honey, divided
1 slice lemon
14-16 fresh figs, stemmed and halved
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup yellow cornmeal
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup sugar
Zest of half a lemon
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
3 eggs, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Stir the orange juice and 1/2 cup honey together in a small saucepan. Add the lemon slice and bring to a boil over medium heat. Lower the heat and add figs. Cover the pan and cook 4 to 6 minutes until the figs are soft but not falling apart. Transfer the figs to a boil using a slotted spoon. Continue cooking the poaching liquid for another 10 to15 minutes, or until the syrup has thickened. Remove from the heat and set aside.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9-inch springform pan and line the bottom with parchment paper.

Whisk together the flour, cornmeal, baking powder and salt. Add the butter, lemon zest and sugar to the boil of a stand mixer and beat on medium speed using the paddle attachment until thick and creamy, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, beating for 1 minute after each addition. Pour in the remaining 1/2 cup honey, add the vanilla and beat for another 2 minutes. The batter may look curdled, but keep mixing! Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the dry ingredients; beat until just incorporated. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and use an icing spatula to smooth it out. Scatter the poached figs over the top.

Bake for 55 to 60 minutes, or until the cake is puffed and golden brown. Transfer to a rack to cool. Serve warm or room temperature, with a drizzle of the sauce.