Autumn Fig, Yogurt & Olive Oil Cake

This simple stir-cake is my favorite cake for late summer and fall. Using heirloom wheat or spelt gives the cake a delicately earthy flavor and is delicious with olive oil though melted butter can be substituted. The figs flavor intensifies when baked and almost tastes like fig leather.

This simple stir-cake is my favorite cake for late summer and fall. Using heirloom wheat or spelt gives the cake a delicately earthy flavor and is delicious with olive oil though melted butter can be substituted. The figs flavor intensifies when baked and almost tastes like fig leather.

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For best outcome, everything should be room temperature including eggs and yogurt before you begin.

8 servings or 12 muffins

  • 1 cup heirloom, spelt, or whole wheat  flour

  • 3/4 cup ground almonds

  • 1/2 tsp. each cinnamon and cardamom

  • 2 tsp. baking powder

  • 1/4 tsp. salt

  • 3/4 to 1 cup organic sugar

  • Grated zest of 1 lemon

  • 1/2 cup plain yogurt or kefir

  • 3 large eggs

  • 2 tsp. pure vanilla extract

  • 1 tsp orange flower water (optional)

  • 1/2 cup olive oil

  • 1 basket fresh green or purple figs, stemmed and halved lengthwise

  • ½ cup coarsely chopped walnuts

  • Powdered sugar for dusting (optional)

  • 1/4 cup chopped, toasted hazelnuts, optional

  • Sweetened crème fraîche to serve with cake (optional)

A 9-inch cast iron skillet,  cake pan with removable bottom, or standard muffin tin with paper liners

  1. Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350˚F and line the bottom of your pan with parchment paper or put cupcake liners in cupcake tin.

  2. In a bowl to fit the dry ingredients, whisk together the flour, ground almonds, baking powder and salt well.

  3. In a medium bowl, put the sugar, spices and lemon zest. Working with your fingertips, rub the zest into the sugar to release the lemon oil. Massage until the sugar is moist and aromatic.

  4. Add the yogurt or kefir, eggs, olive oil, vanilla and orange flower water to the bowl and whisk vigorously until the mixture is very well blended.

  5. Whisk in half of the dry ingredients until smooth. Now add the remaining flour and the walnuts and with a spatula, stir and fold in the remaining flour just until blended.

  6. Scrape the batter into the pan, smooth the top and place the figs on the batter gently, cut side up in a pattern. If using the muffin tins, place two or three fig halves on each filled cup.

  7. For the cake, bake 35 to 40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Transfer the pan to a rack, cool. If using the cake pan, cool for 10 minutes, run a knife between the cake and the sides of the pan and un-mold to cool right-side up.

  8. For the muffins, bake for 18-24 minutes, testing with a toothpick at 18 minutes.

Serve cake with a little sweetened crème fraîche

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Very adapted from Baking From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan





Meringue Mascarpone Cake (gf)

I love meringue with it's crunchy, chewy texture. It's the most forgiving dessert as you can shape it in any way you wish and the more free-flowing, the better. For Valentine's day, use red berries, for Easter, lemon curd and toasted coconut, and in the Fall, roasted figs. And, as desserts go, it's fairly low in calories!

I love meringue with it's crunchy, chewy texture. It's the most forgiving dessert as you can shape it in any way you wish and the more free-flowing, the better. For Valentine's day, use red berries, for Easter, lemon curd and toasted coconut, and in the Fall, roasted figs. And, as desserts go, it's fairly low in calories!

I love meringue with it's crunchy, chewy texture. It's the most forgiving dessert as you can shape it in any way you wish and the more free-flowing, the better. For Valentine's day, use red berries, for Easter, lemon curd and toasted coconut, and in the Fall, roasted figs. And, as desserts go, it's fairly low in calories!

Makes 1 cake and serves 8 or more. Options for a smaller cake below.

For the meringue:

  • 8 large egg whites with no yolk, room temperature
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 2 1/2 cups sugar
  • 4 tsp. cornstarch
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2 tsp. white wine vinegar
  • You will need 3 baking sheets, lined with parchment paper

For the mascarpone cream:

  • 1 ½ cup mascarpone cream also known as mascarpone cheese
  • ¾ cup 2 heavy whipping cream
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • 4 Tbls. sugar or to taste

To finish:

  • 2 to 3 cups fresh berries
  • 2 Tbls. powdered sugar for garnish
  1. Preheat the oven to 275ºF.
  2. Draw 3 circles of approximately 9-inches using a plate as a guide on the parchment-lined sheets. Turn the sheet so the pencil drawing is under the paper.
  3. In a *clean metal bowl with a whisk attachment, whip the egg whites with the salt until they're holding soft peaks but are not stiff. Gently add in the sugar, spoonful after spoonful, still beating, until you've got a bowl full of gleaming, satiny, snowy and fairly stiff meringue.
  4. Sprinkle the cornstarch, vanilla, and vinegar on top and whisk just to combine.
  5. Spoon the meringue onto the baking parchments in three equal “blobs”. Use the back of the spoon or spatula to create flat, wavy discs.
  6. Put the sheet pans into the oven and and bake for 30 minutes. Switch the pans around and bake for another 30 minutes. If they begin to brown, prop a wooden spoon in the oven door to cool the temperature slightly. You want them to stay white.
  7. Turn the oven off; let meringues stand in closed oven for 2 to 2 1/2 hours or overnight,  until surface is dry and meringues can be lifted from paper without sticking.

Put a Post-it on the oven so that you don’t forget they are in there!

To assemble:

  1. In a bowl, whisk (or use a beater) the mascarpone cream ingredients just until the mixture forms soft peaks.
  2. Save the prettiest disc for the top.
  3. Place a meringue disc on a platter and spread with 1/2 of the mascarpone cream or to taste.
  4. On top of the cream, sprinkle one third of the berries.
  5. Place the second disc on top and repeat. Add the third disk and decorate with remaining berries.
  6. Just before serving, use a sieve to sprinkle cake with powdered sugar.

Tips:

  • *To clean a metal bowl for whipping egg whites, rinse the bowl with hot water and soap and then rinse with white vinegar and wipe the bowl dry with paper towel. On oily bowl or bits of fatty egg yolk will keep whites from whipping.
  • The cake can be served immediately and will be crunchy. It can also be chilled for up to two hours. The longer it’s chilled the softer the meringue will be. Both equally delicious.
  • Cut with a sharp, thin-bladed knife.
  • Pastry cream or lemon curd can be exchanged for mascarpone cream.
  • Add 1 to 2 tsp. (or more) instant espresso powder and more sugar (to taste) to the whipped cream. Use the coffee cream as your filling between the meringues.
  • For a smaller crowd simply make four smaller discs. The baked meringue freezes well and can be assembled frozen. Freeze two of the discs flat on a wax paper lined cookie sheet. Once frozen, wrap with foil and place in a protected area of the freezer. Use the other two for your cake and cut the filling recipe in half.



 

Cranberry Upside Down Cake

This recipe is originally from an ice cream & sandwich shop in Santa Cruz known as The Bank Dick after a 1940’s film starring W.C. Fields. I’ve been making it since I was 15 and I still love it.          

Serves 8-10  

  • 1/2 cup melted butter divided into two 1/4-cup amounts
  • 2 cups fresh cranberries, washed and drained
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped walnuts or pecans
  • 1/2 cup almond meal/flour, soy flour, corn flour or fine corn meal
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 2 large or 3 small eggs, room temperature
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • Butter for buttering the pan (optional, read on)

Mix the two flours in a small bowl and set aside. Preheat oven to 350˚F and line the bottom of a 10-inch cake pan or pie dish with parchment paper or, butter the dish well.

In the bowl of a mixer, whip the eggs until frothy. Add the 1 cup of brown sugar slowly and whip until very light and fluffy, about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, spread the cranberries and nuts over the parchment-lined pan. Sprinkle with the remaining 1/2 cup of the brown sugar. Drizzle 1/4 cup of the butter over the brown sugar and set aside.

Back to the cake: once the eggs are very fluffy and light yellow and using a spatula, gently fold in the flours just until blended. Drizzle in the remaining 1/4 cup of melted butter and fold into the batter, again, just until blended; a few streaks of butter is ok. Pour the batter over the cranberry mixture and spread evenly.                                                                                                             Bake for about 40 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. If the cake is browning too much, reduce heat to 325˚F and/or loosely cover with foil.

Once done, remove from the oven and cool for 15 to 20 minutes; it should still be warm. Run a knife around the cake to loosen. Place a plate or serving platter over the cake and flip, holding both plate and cake pan, to un-mold the cake. Gently peel off the parchment paper and replace any cranberries stuck to the paper.

Cool and serve at room temperature with ice cream (salted caramel is delish), crème fraîche, or whipped cream.

P.S. If you're Swedish and have lingonberries, use them instead of or mixed with the cranberries.

Ginger, Cardamon & Pear Cake with Roasted Pears & Crème Fraîche

This cake is the perfect Autumn cake. The whole wheat and spices shouldn't be hidden so I skip the overly sugary glaze and leave it as is serving it with lovely roasted pears and Crème Fraîche or whipped cream. A simple slice for breakfast is just fine too. 

  • 1 cup (2 sticks, 8 oz.) unsalted butter, room temp.
  • 2 cups lightly packed brown sugar (or 1 cup brown & 1 cup coconut or date sugar)
  •  1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. fine salt
  • scant 3/4 tsp. cardamon
  • 1/2 tsp. fresh grated nutmeg
  • 1 tsp. ground dry ginger
  • 4 large eggs, room temp.
  • 1/2 cup milk, apple or pear juice, room temp.
  • 1/2 cup minced crystalized ginger
  • 2 1/4 cups (300g or 11 oz.) aerated white whole wheat flour 
  • 1 pear
  • 9- or 10- cup bundt pan, lightly buttered
  • Whipped Crème Fraîche or cream with a touch of sugar or honey

Preheat the oven to 350˚F

In a small bowl, sift the baking powder, salt and spices.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream together the butter, sugar(s) and spice-baking powder-salt blend at medium speed until smooth and fluffy. Add the minced ginger and blend.

Crack the eggs into a small bowl and add the eggs, one at a time, beating until smooth after each egg. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl. Once fluffy,  add the flour, one-third at a time, alternating with milk. Scrape the bottom after each addition and blend just until incorporated.

Place just enough batter into the bottom of the pan to cover the bottom; this will keep the pear chunks from sticking to the pan.

Peel (optional), core, and dice pear then stir pieces into the batter and pour into bundt pan. Level the top with the back of a spoon. 

Bake the the cake until a tester or toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 50 minutes to 1 hour and 15 minutes depending on oven and type of pan used. Check often and record how long it takes on your recipe for next time. (wink)

Cool for 10-15 minutes. Gently pull cake away from the sides to loosen the cake. Place a cooling rack over the cake and flip the cake over, gently removing pan. Cool completely.

Roasted Pears

These pears are yummy on their own, see post for Roasted Autumn Pears, Honey, Cardamon & Halvah and they are best served at room temperature baked on the day you plan to serve them. Although, leftovers are always tasty! 

  • 6 firm pears, quartered and seeds removed but stems left on 
  • 1 lemon or orange
  • 2 Tbls. honey  
  • 1/2 tsp. cardamon mixed with 1 Tbls. sugar

Place the fruit on a baking dish that is large enough to give them a little room. Squeeze the lemon or orange juice over fruit and toss to keep the pears from browning. Leave pears cut-side up. They should not be squished together. 

Drizzle with honey and then sprinkle with sugar-cardamon mixture. Let sit on the counter for 30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 425°.

Roast the fruit for 10 to 15 minutes or until coked through when pierced with a knife. They should be slightly colored and not mushy. 

Remove from the oven and cool.