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Ottolenghi’s Fig Cake with Extra Figs in Red Wine Syrup

I have a few culinary heroes that I constantly harp about to anybody who’s willing to listen… Vikas Khanna leaves me mesmerized with his almost spiritual take on food; Julia Child will always remain a culinary and personal inspiration; Jamie Oliver for always cooking from the heart… And then… there’s Yotam Ottolenghi. His mastery of food, flavours and textures can only be compared to the bold strokes of an artist’s paintbrush. I’ve never had the chance to visit his delis or restaurant in London, but like many others, I’ve followed his newspaper column and books very keenly and that is where the recipe for this cake emanates from. I’m not sure if it’s just me, but I don’t seem to have to many people around me who like figs. This cake topped with extra figs in a red wine syrup made a convert of all the fig-haters around me! Don’t you just love it when one single recipe holds the power to change your liking for an ingredient?

There’s minimal flour that goes into the batter, calling instead for ground almonds. I spent a bit of extra time working up my food processor on pulse mode to get almonds to an almost flour-like consistency without turning into almond butter. You’ve known me long enough to know that I don’t fret when a recipe calls for Greek Yogurt, I just simply make some of my own and you can too by following this post I wrote up a few months ago. Ottolenghi’s recipe calls for an extra dollop of Greek yogurt to be served with the cake too, but I skipped that and stuck to serving it with the slightly warmed figs in red wine syrup.

There’s no baking powder or soda in the cake, but the cake forms a moist crumb. There are slight _hints_of denseness, the kind that you would associate with cakes from the Middle East and this is why the extra figs, warmed ever so slightly, in the red wine syrup are inseparable when serving the cake.

I had two little failures while making the syrup and finally got it right in the third try and I’m totally sharing the trick with you! When you’re heating the caster sugar, take it off the heat when you see the first hint of the sugar starting to caramelize. Add the first spoon of wine, and be careful because the pan will spit, and then quickly add the rest of the wine and return it to the heat and let the caramel melt into the red wine. Then, it’s time for the quartered figs to get tossed into the red wine-caramel party…

… the fillip of flavours!

Did you ever watch the Oprah episode where they had some sort of justification for eating dessert at the beginning of the meal rather than at the end? I can’t remember what Oprah said, but it seems pretty unfair to wait for a dessert such as this cake until the very end of the meal. With its evenly browned colour and unassuming bowl of syrupy figs, it’s just the sort of dessert that one can plan menus around!

Recipe adapted from here

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Ottolenghi's Fig Cake with Extra Figs in Red Wine Syrup
I have a few culinary heroes that I constantly harp about to anybody who’s willing to listen… Vikas Khanna leaves me mesmerized with his almost spiritual take on food; Julia Child will always remain a culinary and personal inspiration; Jamie Oliver for always cooking from the heart… And then… there’
Servings
serving
Ingredients
For the cake:
For extra figs:
Servings
serving
Ingredients
For the cake:
For extra figs:
Instructions
  1. Pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius. Line the bottom of a 24 cm cake tin with parchment paper. Grease the sides with butter and dust with all-purpose flour. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the ground almonds, flour, salt, vanilla & star anise (dry ingredients). Set aside.
  3. In a separate large bowl, beat the butter & sugar until pale and fluffy.
  4. In a separate bowl, beat the eggs slightly and add them gradually to the butter-sugar mixture. Add the eggs, only a little at a time, mixing well after each little addition. Add more of the eggs only after the previous additions have been combined well.
  5. Fold the dry ingredients into the batter.
  6. Once the dry ingredients have been mixed into the batter, fold the yogurt into the batter.
  7. Pour the batter into prepared tin & level with a spatula. Arrange the quartered figs in circles (see picture in post) on top of cake batter, just slightly immersed in the batter.
  8. Bake for 15 minutes, then reduce the temperature to 170 degrees Celsius & bake for 40 – 45 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the cake comes out clean.
  9. Remove the cake from the oven and allow it to cool before removing it from the tin.
  10. To make the syrup, place the caster sugar in a medium saucepan and place on medium heat. When it begins to caramelize, take it off the heat and add 1 tablespoon of red wine. It will spit. Gradually and quickly, add the rest of the wine & return the pan on heat to allow the caramel to dissolve in red wine. Add the fig quarters & toss them up to warm them up a bit.
  11. Serve each portion of the cooled cake with the extra figs & syrup and some Greek yogurt (optional).
Recipe Notes

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4 Comments on “Ottolenghi’s Fig Cake with Extra Figs in Red Wine Syrup

Karin Anderson
February 21, 2014 at 7:30 pm

Everything I made from Ottolenghi turned out great, so far. This cake looks really good. By the way, you can avoid grinding nuts into a butter by adding either a some of the sugar or the flour from the recipe to the food processor. (I learned this trick from Cook’s Illustrated.)

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Nithyas Corner
February 22, 2014 at 5:50 am

A mouthwatering recipe…Lovely presentation.-nithyas cornerhttp://nithyascorner.com

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Tarika Singh
February 22, 2014 at 11:32 am

That’s a handy tip, thanks Karin!

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Tarika Singh
February 22, 2014 at 11:34 am

Thank you 🙂

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