A simply beautiful way to celebrate the end of summer, this Fresh Fig Dessert Cake is moist and sweet from the sticky juices of the super ripe fruit. A good dose of spices – cinnamon, allspice and cloves – rounds out the flavour, and the coconut crumble topping makes a cozy nest for the figs. It’s a homely cake, good with a cup of tea, but – oh, go on – serve it warm with cream and it’s a decadent dessert.
Fresh Fig Dessert Cake with Cassava Flour – Gluten Free
Looking for the recipe? Scroll all the way down.
Friends, I gotta tell you, figs do me in. It seems to be some cruel twist of fate that something so natural, so biblical, so old as history itself – something that surely has been part of our evolution since the time homo sapiens first set off to explore the Levant – it seems to be a divine joke that this lush fruit can send my gut biome off balance and blow me up like a hot air balloon. Obviously, resistance is useless. What else can you do, when they’re drooping off the tree? Well, I’ve learnt not to exaggerate with them, and in fact, this year I’ve handled the season very well. Since learning about the FODMAPs, much has changed for the better on the digestive front. I don’t go stupid with the ripe figs or stone fruit now. A piece, here and there – not every day – and a slice of this Fresh Fig Dessert Cake I can handle.
Caught Out with my Hands Full of Feruccio’s Figs
It’s not our tree. It’s Feruccio’s. He’s the farmer up on the corner from my family’s old Osteria at Monte. He’s quite eccentric, and his place is well known for its unkempt chaos and his animals which roam across the road. When I went to Chennai, India, in 2013, I thought, ‘Oh, it’s just like Fioruccio’s’. You can’t not be impressed by the filth of poultry and cattle droppings splattered in front of the house, the mountains of wooden and polystyrene fruit boxes, the stables and fences which have never been maintained and the discordant auditory assault of dogs barking, cow bells clanging, roosters crowing and geese honking. Then amidst it all, the sudden, improbable spectacle of a peacock fanning it’s tail, an explosion of shimmering beauty that is breathtaking, and as expansive as Feruccio’s unconventional open heart. He loves his animals. Rumour has it that he distinguishes little between inside his house and out, but personally I never saw chickens in his kitchen.
When I moved to Italy in 2002, Feruccio was very kind to me. He let me poke around the haystack to find fresh eggs, would give me produce, and allowed me to harvest as much as I wanted from the fig trees and the raspberry canes. Back then, I’d pick a couple of kilo’s and make Fig and Ginger Jam.
I’m going back 15 years. The Osteria was still open in those days, and during summer it was the meeting place for the men of Monte, Malleo and Mare. They’d get together every afternoon, play cards and drink wine. One day, I wandered past with a basket full of figs. Ripe figs, as you know, bear an uncanny resemblance to human testicles. Adelino called out, “Angie! How good are Feruccio’s figs!”. And, I, realising what was happening a micro moment after the words slipped out of my mouth, heard myself responding, “Oh, they’re so good!”, to the merry chuckles of all at the card table.
Adelino, as you can imagine, likes to remind me of this episode every summer.
When You’re On a Good Thing…
Those of you who follow my Paleo kitchen creations will see that there’s a trend happening. The coconut topping that is here sprinkled over the cake batter before the sliced figs are positioned and pressed down is a variation on the same theme that first appeared in the Citrus and Coconut Poppy Seed Cake, and then again in the Strawberry and Lemon Coconut Slice. It’s a great thing, this topping – it adds texture to the cake, and boosts the level of healthy fat. And it’s versatile – just vary the type of spice or zest to make it fit what you’re baking.
I hope you love this Fresh Fig Dessert Cake, and gets you out to forage figs from the tree of an offbeat farmer.
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Best Wishes, Good Health and Happiness
- 1 inch fresh ginger, finely minced
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon allspice
- ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
- 1 tablespoon + ¼ cup muscovado sugar
- ½ cup finely shredded coconut
- 2 tablespoons + ⅓ cup coconut oil, melted
- 1 cup cassava flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 100 grams ground almonds
- 3 eggs, lightly beaten
- 6 ripe figs
- Lightly grease a 20cm / 8 inch square baking tray or pyrex dish and line it with baking paper. Preheat the oven to 180°C / 350°F.
- In a small bowl, mix the fresh ginger, cinnamon, allspice, ground cloves and 1 tablespoon muscovado sugar.
- Add 1 tablespoon of the spice mix to the shredded coconut along with 2 tablespoons melted coconut oil, and mix to form a crumble. Set aside.
- Place the remaining spice mix into the food processor with the cassava flour, baking powder, the remaining muscovado sugar and ground almonds. Pulse to combine, then, with the motor running on a low speed, pour in the eggs and the ⅓ cup melted coconut oil. Process until well combined.
- Pour the batter into the prepared pan and distribute evenly - a rubber spatula dipped in water might help. Sprinkle the coconut crumble over the top.
- Slice the figs in half lengthways, and press them down into the batter. Sprinkle with a little more muscovado sugar, if you like.
- Bake for 45 minutes.
- Serve warm, or at room temperature.