Baking my way to November
“I don’t know how it will be in the years to come. There are monstrous changes taking place in the world, forces shaping the future whose face we do not know.”
East of Eden, John Steinbeck
Yes, I made another dessert with fresh fruit. Yes, I’m still baking my way to November. And yes, making dessert with fruit at peak harvest time is a personal obsession. Figs are one of those odd fruits, either one is passionate about them or ignores them completely. I adore them. My favorite way to enjoy figs is to eat them fresh and without anything fancy added. But a coffee cake loaded with sweet, juicy figs and a layer of buttery streusel is really, really good too.
I planned to make Cornbread Coffee Cake with Fresh Figs and Walnut Streusel from the 2016 summer issue of Saver. The description Vivian Howard gives her recipe is too scrumptious to ignore. “But when I first made it, my kids named it candy-corn cake and called for it after supper.” Candy corn figs, I’m in! As I dug into the recipe, I just couldn’t do it. I gathered all the ingredients and then got sidetracked. I really didn’t want a cornmeal textured cake and used semolina flour instead, and white whole flour instead of regular whole wheat flour. I changed the streusel too, less butter plus more dry ingredients. I like my walnuts toasted, on top of the cake. I added nutmeg too. I made so many changes, this is my version of Vivian Howard’s recipe. If you made her recipe with all that cornmeal and butter I want to hear about every single slice!
|2/3C||light brown sugar|
|1/2C||white, whole wheat flour|
|1/8t||fine ground sea salt|
|Fig Coffee Cake|
|1C||white, whole wheat flour|
|1/2t||fine grain sea salt|
|1/2C||full fat sour cream|
|1/2C||unsalted butter, softened|
- Heat the oven to 375°. Line a 9”x13” baking pan with parchment, this will make for easy removal of the entire cake for uniform slicing. (The original recipe is made in a well buttered 12” cast iron skillet.)
- To make the streusel mix the sugar, oats, flour, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt together in a medium sized bowl. Cube the butter and add to the bowl. Work the butter into the dry ingredients. Dip down to the bottom of the bowl to include all the flour. Massage the ingredients together until the butter is mostly the size of large peas and the mixture begins to clump together.
- Spread the walnuts across the entire surface of a sheet pan. Toast in the heated oven for 8-10 minutes, just until the walnuts are fragrant and begin to turn brown. Remove from the oven, cool and then chop.
- Remove the stems from the figs and cut half of them into eights. These will be folded into the cake batter. Cut the rest of the figs in half, lengthwise, for the top of the cake.
- Into a medium sized bowl, sift or shake though a large sieve the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. In another bowl whisk together the buttermilk, sour cream and vanilla.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, add the butter and sugar and mix together until light, creamy and pale yellow in color, 4-5 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after adding each one. Stop to scrape down the sides and bottom of the mixer bowl. Add the semolina flour and mix just until incorporated. With the mixer on low speed, alternately add the flour and buttermilk mixtures in three additions, ending with the flour. Do not over mix. Remove the paddle attachment and bowl from the stand mixer. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the mixer bowl and then fold in the cut-in-eights figs. Do not over mix. Scoop half on the batter in the prepared pan and spread evenly across the surface of the pan. Pour the streusel onto the batter and spread evenly across the surface of the cake. Add the rest of the batter spreading it evenly on top of the streusel. Arrange the cut-in-half figs, cut side up, across the surface of the batter. Sprinkle the walnuts between the figs.
- Bake the coffee cake until a tester comes out cleanly, 45-50 minutes. Let cool in the pan for thirty minutes before using the parchment as handles to lift the cake from the baking pan. Cut into slices and serve, warm or at room temperature.
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