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Fig Focaccia

I know, I know. It’s the third fig recipe in a row I’ve posted, but I couldn’t help myself. Before figs disappear from the markets (or your fig tree), this is a recipe you have to try. It’s got that mixture of sweet and salty that’s so addictive, you’ll find yourself eating the whole pan, unless you share with friends and family. I made it for a first anniversary party of the artists’ coop I’m involved with, and it disappeared quicker than a popsicle on a hot day. The dough is the same as other focaccia post I’ve written — it’s a very shaggy dough and you leave it to rise overnight in the refrigerator.

The next day, you punch it down, then dump it onto a cookie sheet but don’t try to stretch it out immediately. Let it sit for a half hour or more, then spread it out, using fingers that have been dipped in olive oil.

It should look like this after it’s been rising for another hour or so.

Place the figs on top, gently pressing down, then scatter some kosher salt or coarse sea salt on top, plus some minced fresh rosemary.

Bake for about 20-30 minutes at 450 degrees and your house will smell divine.

To finish, drizzle a little honey over the whole thing.

I guarantee people will come back for seconds and thirds.

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Fig Focaccia
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • 1¼ oz. envelope dry active yeast (about 2¼ tsp.)
  • 2½ cups lukewarm water (from 105 degrees to 110 degrees)
  • 2 tsp. honey
  • 4-5 cups flour
  • 1 Tablespoon kosher salt or 5 teaspoons table salt
  • 6 Tbspns. extra-virgin olive oil
  • about two cups of figs, cut in half or quartered, if large
  • a few tablespoons minced rosemary
  • kosher or coarse sea salt
  • honey to drizzle at the end (about ¼ cup)
  • olive oil or butter to grease the pan
Instructions
  1. Put the yeast into the water and add the honey.
  2. Let it sit a few minutes to see if the yeast is active.
  3. It should start foaming slightly.
  4. Add the water mixture to four cups of flour and the salt, stirring with a spatula or wooden spoon.
  5. Keep adding more flour until you have a shaggy dough.
  6. Grease a large bowl with a couple of tablespoons of olive oil.
  7. Dump the dough into the bowl, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
  8. Remove the dough from the bowl and dump onto a cookie sheet that's been generously greased with olive oil.
  9. Don't try to spread the dough out now.
  10. Let it rest for at least a half hour or more and it will be easier to spread out.
  11. Put some olive oil in a bowl, dip your fingers into it, and then dimple the dough all over using your fingers.
  12. Place the quartered figs on the dough, pressing down slightly.
  13. Scatter the kosher coarse or sea salt and rosemary on top.
  14. Bake for about 20-25 minutes at 450 degrees until brown.
  15. Remove from the oven and immediately drizzle with honey.
  16. Cut and serve.
 

Fig Spice Cake

  • September 12, 2022

Pardon me for posting two fig-centric recipes in a row, but it’s the height of fig season and this cake is simply too good not to try. Even if you haven’t got a fig tree, or FWFT (friends with fig trees), you can find figs in the farmers’ markets right now, so hurry and get some to make this cake. You’ll need about a cup’s worth, half the amount of the bowl of figs I was lucky enough to receive from my friend Madeline.

The cake comes together quickly in a bowl, stirring by hand. No waiting for butter to soften either, since it uses oil (I used olive oil and a little less than originally called for) instead. The recipe, from a book called “Under the Fig Leaf” also contains pecans as an optional ingredient, but if I were you, I wouldn’t skip them. They add a nice crunch to the cake.

While the cake is nearly finished baking, you make a quick glaze that you cook for three minnutes.

Then poke holes all over the cake and pour the hot glaze over everything.

It’s such a moist and flavorful cake with a great texture all by itself, but next time I make this (and it will be soon with those leftover figs), I’m going to make sure to have either whipped cream or ice cream on hand to serve alongside the cake.

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Fig Spice Cake
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1½ cups sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 3 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 cup vegetable oil (I used about ¾ cup olive oil)
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extraaact
  • Recipe from the cookbook "Under The Fig Leaf"
  • 1 cup fresh figs, chopped, stems removed
  • 1 cup pecans, chopped
  • FOR THE GLAZE:
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ¼ cup butter
  • ¼ cup buttermilk
  • 2 teaspoons light corn syrup
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  2. Blend together the first 7 ingredients in aa large bowl.
  3. Stir in the eggs, oil aand buttermilk, mixing well.
  4. Fold in the vanilla, figs and pecans.
  5. Pour into a greased and floured 9 x 13 x 2 inch baking dish,
  6. Bake for 35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
  7. Remove to a wire cooling rack.
  8. Pierce the top of the cake all over with a toothpick or a fork.
  9. Drizzle glaze over the cake.
  10. Serve witth whipped cream or ice cream, if desired.
  11. FOR THE GLAZE:
  12. Bring all the ingredientts to a boil in a small saucepan and cook for 3 minutes
  13. Pour over the cake.
 

Fig Pecan Scones

  • August 30, 2022

It’s that time of year when figs are in abundance both in farmers’ markets and on backyard fig trees. However, my ornery fig tree has an abundance of healthy leaves but few figs growing on it. I’ll be lucky to get a half dozen to ripen at most. Last year was a bit better, and we enjoyed perhaps a dozen ripe figs, all ripening one at a time, making it impossible to bake anything that required more than one or two. It’s not the first fig tree I’ve grown, and hope springs eternal, but let’s just say I’ve given the ultimatum before to fig trees that don’t produce. I’ve got one planted in a pot for a year now also, and I’m going to try that as a backup in case this turns out to be a recalcitrant producer too.

In any event, I froze some of last year’s harvest, intending to use them sooner than this, but here I am making fig scones again. I made them in the past with fresh figs and found the flavor a little too mild, so I added some dried figs to the mix too, and I loved the combination of both types of figs.

I also added some pecans to the dough, just because I love pecans. But almonds and figs are a great combo too. If I were to do that, I’d add almond extract instead of the vanilla in the recipe.

Chop the figs into small pieces. If using frozen figs, don’t defrost them fully. Just enough to cut into pieces.

Shape the dough into a circle (be careful not to overwork the dough or the scones will be tough). Cut into eight sections, almost to the bottom of the dough to the pan. Sprinkle more pecans on top.

Cut them and separate the scones and serve as is, warm from the oven.

But for a little sweeter touch, drizzle some of the sugar-y glaze on top.

They are soft and crunchy at the same time. I hope you enjoy them. By the way, if you’ve got a stubborn fig tree that is slow to deliver, try using the leaves alone in this quick and delicious recipe for flounder baked in fig leaves: https://ciaochowlinda.com/2020/09/flounder-baked-in-fig-leaves.html

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Fig Pecan Scones
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ⅓ cup sugar
  • ½ cup (1 stick) cold butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1 large egg
  • ½ cup heavy cream , plus extra for brushing the top
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup chopped fresh figs
  • ½ cup chopped dried figs
  • ½ cup chopped pecans (save some for the top)
  • ¾ cup confectioner's sugar
  • enough water to form a drizzle
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees and line a baking pan with parchment paper.
  2. Combine the flour, baking powder, sugar and salt in a bowl.
  3. Blend in the butter with your fingers, a fork or a pastry blender, until it resembles coarse sand.
  4. Beat the egg with the cream and vanilla and stir it into the flour and butter mixture with a wooden spoon.
  5. Add the pecans and the figs.
  6. Do not overmix.
  7. Knead it together until it forms a ball, then flatten into a 9 or 10 inch circle.
  8. Take a knife and make indentations, cutting into eight pieces, almost down to the bottom of the pan.
  9. The mixture will be sticky.
  10. Sprinkle more pecans on top, if desired.
  11. Bake at 400 degrees for at least 30 minutes.
  12. It may need another 5-15 minutes depending on the diameter and thickness of your circle.
  13. If you want, you can cut all the way through the dough and bake each scone individually.
  14. It will take about 20-30 minutes if you do it that way.
  15. Let the scones cool completely if you want to glaze them.
  16. Otherwise eat warm from the oven with butter.
  17. If glazing, mix the confectioners' sugar with enough water to get a consistency of a glaze.
  18. Drizzle on top.

Flounder Baked in Fig Leaves

  • September 23, 2020

Since our fig tree is recalcitrant when it comes to producing ripe fruit, I decided to use some of its abundant leaves instead. Did you know that fig leaves are edible? They’re kind of tough to eat without boiling first, but for this kind of recipe, they’re perfect. They keep the fish moist, and impart a delicate flavor to what’s inside. Don’t turn away if you don’t have a fig tree — this recipe can easily be made with Swiss chard (or grape) leaves instead. But if you have a fig tree, or know someone with one, you will love this recipe. It’s easy, it’s delicious, it’s low in calories and it’s good for you to boot. Cut a nice size leaf or two from your tree for each fish filet, and place it on a baking sheet that has been smeared with olive oil. Center the fish filet in the center of the leaf, then season with salt, pepper and fresh herbs. I used a combination of chives, parsley and thyme. Place a couple of lemon slices over the herbs and fish, then drizzle with a little olive oil. Fold the leaves over the fish, overlapping them to hold them in place. If you have a gap where the fish shows through, cut up another leaf and cover the space. Flip the entire leaf-wrapped fish over, so that the flaps are on the underside.

After 15 minutes in the oven, it will look something like this:

Using a long spatula, carefully flip the package of fish and leaves back over so that when you place it on your plate, you’ll be able to peel back the leaf easily and reveal the fish. The lemon will have softened enough that just pressing gently with a fork will release the remaining lemon juice onto the fish. Then bite into and enjoy a very moist, delicious piece of flounder.

If I can’t enjoy a bounty of figs from my tree, at least I can make use of some of those beautiful leaves.

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Flounder Baked in Fig Leaves
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • Flounder (or salmon or snapper) (1 filet per person)
  • fig leaves (1 or 2 large fig leaves per portion)
  • olive oil to drizzle
  • salt, pepper
  • fresh herbs (I used a combination of chives, thyme and parsley)
  • lemon slices
Instructions
  1. Rinse the fig leaves.
  2. Spread a little olive oil on a cookie sheet.
  3. Lay the fig leaf down, then place a filet of fish on top.
  4. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, the minced herbs, then drizzle a little olive oil on top of the fish.
  5. Lay a couple of slices of lemon over the fish.
  6. Close the fig leaf over the fish, then flip it over so that the flaps are on the bottom.
  7. If some of the fish is uncovered, but up another fig leaf and wrap around the exposed parts.
  8. Bake in a 375 degree over for 25 minutes.
  9. Serve immediately with the fig leaves, allowing each person to unwrap the leaves.
 

Fresh Fig and Ricotta Cake

  • September 10, 2020

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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Fresh Fig and Ricotta Cake
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • 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
Instructions
  1. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Butter and flour a 9 inch springform pan or spray with baking spray.
  3. (I used a glass baking dish that measured 8" x 11" - Linda)
  4. 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.
  5. Add in the eggs one at a time and beat until they are fluffy and pale yellow in color.
  6. Add in the ricotta and yogurt and beat until combined.
  7. Add in the flour and salt and finally the baking powder.
  8. Beat until the dry ingredients are just fully incorporated.
  9. Do not overmix!
  10. 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.
  11. Sprinkle with granulated sugar and bake until the top is lightly golden and the center of the cake has set. About 40-45 minutes.
  12. (I baked the rectangular pan only 35 minutes,)
  13. Allow the cake to cool 20-30 minutes in the pan before opening the spring and slicing.
  14. Dust with confectioners sugar if desired.
 

Fig Tartlets in Kataifi Cups

  • September 21, 2019

Have you ever eaten kataifi? It’s a shredded phyllo dough that’s available frozen in Greek or specialty food stores. Admittedly, it’s not easy to find, so if you can’t locate it near you, use regular phyllo dough instead.

I’ve been wanting to cook with kataifi for a long time and I finally took the plunge when a friend let me pick figs from her tree. The tartlet is stuffed with an almond flavored pastry cream and I served these as dessert at a dinner we attended last night. You could also switch things up and make this a savory appetizer, using a whipped, herbed ricotta or goat cheese instead of the pastry cream.

Kataifi is really simple to use, but slightly messy. Don’t worry about trying to be neat, because they have a certain charm with their little tendrils sticking every which way. Push the dough down into the tartlet tin, then drizzle with melted butter and bake.

They come out a nice golden color and look like pale bird nests.

Before the tartlets went into the oven, I cut the figs in half, drizzled with a little honey and roasted them on parchment paper for about 15-20 minutes, letting the flavors intensify.

The dessert is a cinch to put together before serving. Just place a dollop of the cream into each tartlet and top with a roasted fig. Drizzle a little more honey over each tartlet. You can make everything ahead of time and assemble before serving.

They pop in the mouth like candy, and deliver a great combination of flavors and textures – crunchy and soft. You’ll want to make a big platter of these because they disappear in a flash, if last night’s dinner party was any indication. There were two lonely tartlets left on the platter that nobody had the courage to grab. But the hostess assured me she was going to enjoy them after we had all left.

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Fig Tartlets in Kataifi Cups
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • 1 box kataifi shredded phyllo
  • melted butter (quantity depends on how much phyllo you use)
  • 3.4 oz. box vanilla instant pudding
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • ½ cup whipping cream
  • fresh figs (quantity depends on how many tartlets you make)
  • honey to drizzle
Instructions
  1. Take kataifi from freezer and let thaw in refrigerator overnight.
  2. Bring to room temperature.
  3. Place the figs on a baking sheet lined with parchment, and drizzle with honey.
  4. Roast at 400 degrees for 15-20 minutes.
  5. Remove figs from oven, and lower temperature to 375 degrees.
  6. While figs are roasting, start making the kataifi cups.
  7. Working with a small amount at a time, take kataifi in your fingers and press and swirl to fit into small tartlet tins.
  8. When you're not working with it, keep the rest of the kataifi under a kitchen towel to keep it from drying out.
  9. Drizzle a little melted butter on each tartlet.
  10. Bake at 375 degrees for 15 minutes, or until golden.
  11. Remove from oven and let rest on paper towels.
  12. Make the pudding according to package directions, but add 1 teaspoon of almond extract.
  13. Whip the heavy cream and fold into the pudding mixture.
  14. Place a dollop of the cream mixture and a roasted fig atop each tartlet.
  15. Drizzle with a little honey and decorate with a mint leaf, if desired.
 

 

Pork Tenderloin with Figs and Olives

  • September 25, 2018

Looking for a delicious main course that’ll impress your guests, but is easy enough for an every day meal? Look no further than this pork tenderloin roast, cooked with figs and olives, a recipe inspired by my friend, Marie, whose blog, Proud Italian Cook, always leaves me hungry.

It’s near the end of fig season here in the Northeastern U.S., and if you don’t have your own fig tree, I hope you have FWF (friends with figs). My own fig tree, a new transplant that produced only one edible fig so far this year, was not up to the task, but fortunately I have a few FWFs, including my friend Dorothy, who invited me to help myself.

The recipe calls for some fig preserves, and fortunately, I still had some I made earlier in the year. But you can easily purchase fig preserves from the store.

I stewed them for a few minutes in port wine to soften them a bit. Careful not to cook them too long, or they’ll lose their shape since they cook further in the oven. Port wine and figs are a match made in heaven, but if you haven’t got port, you can use red wine, or even just water if you don’t imbibe at all. Add a cinnamon stick to the liquid for even more flavor.

Make a paste of fig preserves, garlic and some herbs and spread it over the roast. Surround it with the drained figs, scatter around some olives and sections of red onion. The first time I made this, I browned the meat, but much of the paste burned, causing me to scrape it all off. So I eliminated that browning procedure entirely the second time and it was delicious even without taking that step.

Roast it for about 20-30 minutes at 425 degrees, or until a thermometer reaches 145 degrees.

Let it rest for at least 5 – 10 minutes before slicing, then serve some of that luscious fig and port wine liquid on top.

It’s so tender and flavorful you’ll go back for seconds…. and thirds.

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Pork Tenderloin with Figs and Olives
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • 1 pork tenderloin, 1 to 1½ pounds
  • 1 dozen ripe figs, cut in half lengthwise
  • 1 large red onion, sectioned in pieces
  • about ½ cup green and black olives
  • MARINADE FOR THE PORK
  • 2 tablespoons fig preserves
  • 2 tablespoons grainy mustard
  • 1 large garlic clove
  • 1 tablespoon each minced rosemary and thyme
  • salt, pepper
  • POACHING LIQUID FOR FIGS
  • ½ cup port wine and ½ cup water
  • ¼ cup honey
  • ¼ cup fig preserves
  • 1 cinnamon stick
Instructions
  1. Place the port wine, water, honey, fig preserves and cinnamon stick in a saucepan and bring to a boil.
  2. Reduce the heat, add the figs and poach gently for about five minutes to soften and imbue the figs with more flavor.
  3. Mix the marinade ingredients together and smear over the pork in the roasting pan.
  4. Let the pork sit at room temperature with the marinade for about ½ hour.
  5. Fan out the onion sections around the pork, and also scatter the olives and drained figs in the pan.
  6. Spoon a little of the poaching liquid on the roast and place in a 425 degree oven for about 20-30 minutes or until a thermometer reads 145 degrees.
  7. Remove from the oven and cover with aluminum foil and let it rest 5-10 minutes.
  8. If the poaching liquid is not thick enough to your liking, reduce over high heat for a bit.
  9. Slice the roast and ladle some of the poaching liquid on top before serving.
 

 

Fig and Almond Crostata

  • September 11, 2018

It’s fig season here in the Northeastern U.S., and if you don’t have your own fig, there are plenty of markets selling different varieties of these luscious fruits. I had about a dozen that were ready to eat and decided to make a free-form crostata for dessert, poaching the figs first in port wine, honey and cinnamon. They’re delicious poached in red wine too, but if you have port wine, it’s a perfect match accompaniment to figs.

The figs become a little moister after poaching, which could make the pastry soggy, so I scattered a layer of sliced almonds as a bed for the figs, to act as a barrier and also give more texture and flavor.

Drain the figs from the poaching liquid and place them carefully over the almonds.

Gather the pastry around the edges, pinching to form a border. Brush with beaten egg, or some milk.

After it comes out of the oven, spread some of the reduced glaze over the top.

It’s delicious just as is, but a bit of ice cream always makes things better.


Fig and Almond Crostata
 
Ingredients
  • Serves two to four people (easily doubled to serve eight)
  • 10 to 12 figs, cut in half
  • ½ cup Port wine
  • ¼ cup honey
  • 3 Tablespoons sugar
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • ¼ cup sliced almonds
  • For the Pastry:
  • ½ cup flour
  • 4 Tablespoons butter
  • 1 Tablespoon sugar
  • a pinch of salt
  • 3 or 4 tablespoons ice water, as needed
Instructions
  1. Bring the Port wine, honey, sugar and cinnamon stick to a boil in a saucepan.
  2. Lower the heat and add the figs. Let the figs simmer for about 5-10 minutes, depending on how ripe the figs are.
  3. Don't let them poach so long that they lose shape.
  4. Drain the figs and set aside.
  5. Meanwhile, turn the heat to high and let the Port wine mixture reduce to about half or until about the consistency of honey.
  6. Don't forget the solution will be runnier when it's hot, but thickens when cooled.
  7. Mix the flour, sugar, salt and butter in a food processor, until it resembles coarse sand. Add the ice water until it starts to hold together. Bring it out onto a board and roll into a ball. Flatten the ball, wrap in plastic and put it in the refrigerator for about a half hour to an hour.
  8. Remove from refrigerator and roll over a floured surface to a circle with a circumference of about 10-12 inches.
  9. Scatter the almonds over the center of the dough, leaving a border of about two inches.
  10. Place the poached figs over the almonds, then fold the pastry over the figs, pinching toward the edges to form a border.
  11. Brush the border with either beaten egg, or milk.
  12. Bake at 400 degrees for about 25-30 minutes or until browned.
  13. Remove from oven, and brush the reduced port wine glaze over the figs.
  14. If the glaze is too thick, put it back on the heat for a few minutes, adding a bit of water if necessary.
 

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Fig, Orange and Mascarpone Cheesecake

  • December 4, 2017

Looking for a delicious showstopper dessert to serve this holiday season? The new cookbook “Sweet” by Yotam Ottolenghi  & Helen Goh is filled with possibilities, including this rich cheesecake I made for a party recently. The recipe includes dried puréed figs spread over a graham cracker and walnut base, but doesn’t require the fresh figs shown in the photo. But since my supermarket had some real beauties on the shelf last week, I couldn’t resist adding them as decoration, smeared with a little quince jelly to add some shine.

As if a graham cracker, walnut and butter base isn’t wonderful enough, the recipe calls for you to cook some dried figs in orange juice with spices and smear that over the graham cracker base. You can use American measurements, but whenever possible, I like to use metric measurements, (included in the recipe) which are so much more accurate.

After slicing the figs, they may weigh a teensy bit less (especially if you’re a taste-tester, as I am.)

After they’re cooked, I blitzed them in a food processor to obtain a purée,  something the book’s recipe doesn’t ask you to do.

But the technique avoids having lumps in the purée and provides a smooth spread to smear over the graham cracker crust.The recipe also doesn’t call for baking the cake in a hot water bath. In fact, at the beginning of the cheesecake chapter, the authors say they’re not huge fans of the technique. I am, however, and looking at the photo of this cheesecake is proof that the technique works. See the cheesecake pictured in the book below, included next to the recipe? You’ll see very raised and very rounded outer edges, as well as a very browned (too browned in my opinion) top and side crust.

However, after covering the bottom and outside edges of the pan with aluminum foil, and baking it in a bain marie, the cheesecake I baked came out of the oven with a perfectly even height from the center to the edge. You have to be really careful when putting the pan in the oven and removing it, though, since spilling hot water on yourself can be very hazardous. But it will be worth it once you bite into this beauty.

Fig, Orange and Mascarpone Cheesecake
 
Author:
Recipe type: dessert
Ingredients
  • =Base
  • 3½ oz/100 gr. graham crackers (about 6½ sheets), roughly broken
  • ¾ cup/80 g. walnut halves, finely chopped
  • 4 Tbsp/60 gr. unsalted butter, melted, plus extra for greasing
  • 9 oz/260 gr. soft dried figs, tough stems removed, sliced into ¼ inch/0.5 cm strips
  • 1 cup plus 1 Tbsp/250 ml orange juice
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • ⅛ tsp. ground cloves
  • =Filling
  • 1 lb. 2 oz/500 gr. cream cheese at room temperature (I used 1 lb. only)
  • 1 lb. 2 oz./500 gr. mascarpone (I used 1 lb. only)
  • 1¼ cups/250 gr. granulated sugar
  • finely grated zest of 1 large orange (1 tbsp)
  • 4 large eggs, whites and yolks separated
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
Instructions
  1. To make the base, grease the base and sides of a 9-inch/23 cm round springform pan and line with parchment paper, making sure that the paper rises at least 2 inches/5 cm above the rim; the cake rises a lot in the oven. (I lined only the bottom and buttered the sides and it was fine).
  2. Place the graham crackers in a food processor and process to form fine crumbs; the consistency should be that of dried breadcrumbs. Place in a medium bowl and add the walnuts and melted butter.Use your hands or a large spoon to combine; the mixture should be the consistency of wet sand. Spoon the crumbs into the pan, using your hands to press them into the base, then place in the fridge for 20 minutes to firm up. (At this stage, I baked the base in a 400 degree oven for 8 minutes. Next time, I would bake it for 10-12 minutes, since the base still softened after the cheesecake was baked.)
  3. Place the figs, orange juice, cinnamon stick and ground cloves in a medium saucepan over a medium heat. Bring to a simmer and cook for 15-20 minutes until most of the liquid has evaporated but the mixture is still moist. (At this point, I blended it until smooth in a food processor - removing the cinnamon stick.) Set aside to cool, remove the cinnamon stick, then spread over the base. Return to the fridge.
  4. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  5. To make the filling, place the cream cheese in the bowl of an electric mixer with the paddle attachment in place. Beat on medium speed for 1 minute, until smooth, before adding the mascarpone, sugar, orange zest, egg yolks and vanilla extract. Continue to beat until all of the ingredients are incorporated and the mixture looks smooth and creamy, scraping down the paddle and sides of the bowl from time to time, if you need to.
  6. Place the egg whites in a separate clean bowl and whisk (either by hand or with an electric mixer) until firm peaks form. Fold a third into the cream cheese mixture, followed by the remaining two-thirds.
  7. Pour the filling over the chilled fig and graham cracker base. Place on a baking sheet and bake for 75-80 minutes, until the cheesecake is a light golden brown at the edges and the center is only just firm. (Before putting in the oven, I wrapped the bottom of the springform pan with aluminum foil, then placed the pan in a bain-marie, or hot water bath. It helps the cheesecake to bake more evenly and avoids formation of raised edges. I baked it for 75 minutes and it was still slightly wobbly in the middle. Don't worry, it firms as it cools.)
  8. Turn off the oven but leave the cheesecake inside for an hour or so, with the door propped open with a wooden spoon. Allow it to come to room temperature before covering in plastic wrap and keeping in the fridge for 4 hours.
  9. When ready to serve, release the springform pan, remove the parchment paper (that is nearly impossible to do without flipping it over, so I left it on) and transfer to a cake platter. (I decorated the top with sliced figs that were brushed with quince jelly.)
  10. The cheesecake is best served chilled, straight from the fridge, and cut with a warm knife (dip the blade in hot water and wipe dry before using.)

Fig Upside Down Cake

  • September 15, 2013

 Yes, I know my last post was a cake and here I am back again so soon with another cake. Well, truth be told, I do have a weakness for cake. But more importantly, with figs in season for such a short time more, I figured you needed this cake recipe. Besides, swimsuit season is over — go for broke. (OK, I can hear all you folks in the Southern hemisphere right now as you squeeze into your Speedos – Just eat a smaller piece, alright? Life is too short.) 

The figs in the cake were from my friend Ellie’s fig tree. I wish I could say they were from my yard. But the fig below is, in fact, from my very own fig tree. It’s the only ripe fruit I’ve harvested from it this year — and it’s a biggie. With any luck, the other figs will ripen before the frost hits. I’m keeping my fingers crossed.
I used a cast iron skillet to make this cake. If you don’t own one, you should. They transmit heat so uniformly and they’re such versatile pans, you can cook anything from omelets to cakes in them. Plus they last forever. This one is 42 years old. Yikes, that sentence just gave me the willies. I have pans older than most of my readers? Oh well, at least I’m still here to write about it. moving on…..
 Melt the brown sugar and butter and place the figs cut side down.
 Mix the batter (it will be thick) and place it carefully over the figs.
 Bake at 350 degrees and flip it immediately (and carefully) onto a large plate. This cake is best enjoyed when warm, so gather some friends around and dig in.
For another great version of a fig upside-down cake, check out Greg’s blog post on SippitySup here.
Upside Down Fig Cake
8 T. butter
1/2 cup sugar + 2 T.
2 eggs
2 cups all-purpose flour
3 t. baking powder
1/2 t. salt
1/4 t. ground cinnamon
a few gratings of nutmeg
1/2 cup milk
 
For the top part (it will become the top when flipped)
4 T. butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
figs, cut in half (the amount depends on how large they are – I needed about 1 1/2 dozen for this one)
In a 10-inch cast iron skillet, melt the butter and brown sugar. Arrange the fig halves over the sugar and butter, cut side down.
For the cake batter, beat the butter and sugar until light. Beat in the eggs. Sift dry ingredients together. Beat half of dry ingredients into creamed mixture and beat in half of milk. Repeat, beating well. Batter will be thick.
Pour into the pan over the fig/brown sugar/butter mixture. Bake in oven at 350 degrees for about 30-35 minutes. Serve warm if possible.