Fig and Almond Cake

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I made this cake before everything started to change over here. Peaches were still front and center at the market. Eight kinds of plums were on display. Two so-called velvet apricots. All of the eggplant.

Some of those fruits are still there, but roma and gala apples bumped peaches off to the side. Enormous, swollen-looking pumpkins replaced the watermelons. Those striped melons are gone.

But somewhere between these icons of summer and fall, there are the figs. They showed up at some point in August, but to me they seem at home in September.

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I love figs forever with cheese and prosciutto, but it’s good to switch things up. So, this cake.

I’m trying to be better about making recipes that catch my eye sooner rather than later. David Tanis wrote about figs recently in his City Kitchen column, and the photo of a fig and almond cake convinced me to try the recipe that week. Besides, wherever Tanis goes I like to follow.

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The cake comes together quickly. Just be sure to very lightly sprinkle the figs with sugar at the end. I was a little too liberal with the sugar and it browned the edges of the cake more than I’d like. Also, 25 minutes in the oven would be more appropriate. Don’t overcook this cake! I should’ve pulled it from the oven as soon as I could smell it. It’s hard to tell when the top is covered in fruit, but don’t forget to check on it before the suggested baking time. I’m also now convinced I should get a tart pan. His cake looks so pretty.

Then, serve the cake in the afternoon with coffee. If you like cornmeal cakes, you’ll definitely like the soft but textured crumb of this cake from the crushed almonds. Almonds and figs belong together, and this is a perfectly understated cake to celebrate the quiet transition of seasons.

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fig and almond cake

A great cake for an afternoon coffee break. Go light on the sprinkling of sugar and keep an eye on that baking time. It can sometimes be tricky to check the doneness when the top of the cake is covered in fruit.

4 tablespoons butter, melted, plus more for greasing the pan
1 cup raw almonds
1/4 cup sugar, plus more for sprinkling
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon salt
3 eggs, beaten
2 tablespoons honey
1/2 teaspoon almond or vanilla extract
12 or so ripe figs, stems removed and halved lengthwise

Heat oven to 375°F. Grease up a 9-inch fluted tart pan or pie pan with butter.

Place almonds and 1/4 cup sugar in a food processor and grind to a coarse powder. Add flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt. Pulse to combine.

In a mixing bowl, whisk together eggs, melted butter, honey, and almond extract. Add almond mixture and beat until batter is just combined. Pour batter into greased pan.

Arrange  the fig halves cut-side up on top of the batter. Sprinkle figs lightly with sugar, avoiding the edges. Bake until golden and the a tester inserted into the center comes out clean, about 25 minutes. Let cool before serving.

Serves 8. Adapted from David Tanis via The New York Times.

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