Are you lucky enough to have a fig tree growing in your yard? I’ve known many Italians (and non-Italians) with fig trees, either in the ground or in pots, and they all seem to get a prolific harvest each year. I wish I could say the same for my fig tree, or should I say fig trees, because I’ve tried year after year to grow them and never seem to get more than a handful of fruit, if that. Each year, I declare I’ve had it with my barren fig tree — no more relegating precious real estate to this freeloader. One winter I even followed through on my threat, refusing to protect a 10 year-old fig tree from its frigid fruitless fate. As expected, it died from the cold temperatures and what did I do? I went out and bought another fig tree in the spring. That was two fig trees ago. Long story short, the current fig tree died this last winter too, or so I thought. We had protected it from winter’s blast, but when we uncovered the tree in the spring, it had as much life in it as a Latin word at a rapper’s concert. But surprise! By June, the tree sprang back to life from its roots, and has even produced a half dozen fruits, although whether they ripen before the frost is doubtful. What’s a fig lover to do? Buy figs, naturally, which is what I did when I saw these zebra figs in the market.
I ate a few, gave some to my dad, but had a hankering to bake a cake with them, since my husband is such a dessert lover. In the past, I’ve posted recipes for several fresh fig desserts including a fig upside down cake, a lemony olive oil fig cake, a fig frangipane tart, a fig crostata, and a poached fig and almond crostata, But I had never made a fresh fig and ricotta cake until now. In searching for a recipe, I came across many, and settled on one by Rosella Rago, whose website Cooking with Nonna, is always a great source of inspiration. Rosella’s recipe calls for slicing the figs thinly.
Then placing them on top. Rosella’s recipe also called for using a round springform pan, but I didn’t have one handy at the beach house,where we spend our summers, so I used a rectangular one that measured 8″ x 11.”
The cake was moist, with a nice crumb and a lemony flavor, and is a perfect accompaniment to a cup of tea or coffee. Next time, I plan to double the amount of figs, and spread half the batter into the pan, cover with a layer of figs, then add the rest of the batter, and top it with more figs. Maybe I’ll even have my own stash of figs from my own tree by the end of next summer. Wish me (and our fig tree) luck.
Coincidentally, while I was baking my cake, my friend Stacey was also baking a fig ricotta cake, using a recipe from one of my favorite cookbook writers, Ina Garten. You can find that version here.
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- For the Cake:
- ½ cup olive oil + 2 tablespoons
- 1 cup granulated sugar, plus extra for sprinkling on top
- 2 packets Vanillina OR 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 lemon, zest only
- 4 large eggs
- 1 cup whole milk ricotta
- 2 tablespoons plain yogurt (preferably full fat)
- 1¼ cups all purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 6 fresh figs cut into thin, round slices
- confectioners sugar for dusting
- Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.
- Butter and flour a 9 inch springform pan or spray with baking spray.
- (I used a glass baking dish that measured 8" x 11" - Linda)
- In a large mixing bow combine the oil, sugar, vanilla and lemon zest. Using an electric mixer beat the ingredients on medium speed until combined.
- Add in the eggs one at a time and beat until they are fluffy and pale yellow in color.
- Add in the ricotta and yogurt and beat until combined.
- Add in the flour and salt and finally the baking powder.
- Beat until the dry ingredients are just fully incorporated.
- Do not overmix!
- Pour the batter into the prepared pan and arrange the fig slices in a single layer on top making sure they are not overlapping one another.
- Sprinkle with granulated sugar and bake until the top is lightly golden and the center of the cake has set. About 40-45 minutes.
- (I baked the rectangular pan only 35 minutes,)
- Allow the cake to cool 20-30 minutes in the pan before opening the spring and slicing.
- Dust with confectioners sugar if desired.