It’s my favourite time of the year: fig season. No joke, I eat so many when they’re in season, it’s like my body knows I only get a small window of opportunity before “poof!” they’re gone…
So I decided on Saturday morning as I strolled through a local fruit and veg shop, which was selling packs of six for $3.99, that I would make something special to celebrate the glorious fig. And as I like them best the way nature intended – straight from the tree and into my mouth – I used fresh figs.
I can recall countless occasions where my friends have stood by embarrassed watching me steal figs from the most obscure places…well technically they are always hanging over the fence, so fair game really. Like the time I dodged local traffic to get to a roadside fig tree in Mykonos, or the time I got a boost from my boyfriend to grab an out-of-reach beauty from an abundant tree in Margaret River – figs make me go a little crazy.
It’s all my Mum’s fault you see, she used to share figs with me when I was little girl – and like Mother, like daughter – I was hooked. I didn’t stand a chance. Still to this day, figs are both our favourites. In fact, she’s probably going to read this post and be pissed I didn’t save any cake for her. Sorry Mum – promise I’ll make it up to you.
For the cake:
250gm caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
290gm plain flour
1 ½ tsp baking powder
For the mascarpone cream:
1/4 cup icing sugar
125ml double cream
1 vanilla pod, split and seeds scraped out
For the hazelnut praline:
50g shelled, toasted hazelnuts
200g caster sugar
6 fresh figs, quartered
To make the cake, preheat oven to 180ºC.
Cream butter and sugar in a large bowl using an electric mixer, until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating well between each egg. Add vanilla, then mix in flour and baking powder. Then add the buttermilk and stir until well combined, the batter will be quite thick.
Bake in a lined cake tin for 45 minutes, using a spatula to spread mixture evenly around the tin. Remove and allow to cool on a wire cake rack.
To make the praline, place the hazelnuts on a non-stick baking tray, while you make the caramel. Place the sugar in a non stick saucepan, over a medium-high heat, and allow to melt, swirling the pan so it dissolves easily. Pour over the hazelnuts, and allow to cool and harden. Once set, break into smaller shards, and bash with a pestle and mortar until you have a mixture of small pieces and crumbs.
To make the mascarpone cream, place the mascarpone, double cream, vanilla seeds and icing sugar in a bowl and beat until thickened and smooth.
To assemble, cut the cake in half horizontally. Using a piping bag, pipe half of your mascarpone cream onto the bottom layer of your cake and sprinkle with hazelnut praline, then carefully place the top half on. Arrange the cut figs on top of the cake and sprinkle with remaining praline – using some the longer shards in between the figs.
*Recipe sourced from A Gorgeous Life.