The sixth recipe in my „CAKES AND FRUITS“ series features a glorious Walnut Fig Cake ("Walnuss Feigen Kuchen") made with freshly ground and chopped new harvest walnuts and fresh, not dried, figs. This striking fruit, with its fresh green or deep purple skin and vibrant deep pink flesh, is a wonderful addition to the autumnal table. When buying figs, remember that they do not ripen after picking, so make sure to choose the ripest and most fragrant fruits you can find.
Fresh figs have a very short shelf life. There are thin-skinned and they bruise easily, so be careful when handling them and wrap them in tissue paper before bringing them home from the store. Ripe figs do not keep for more than two or three days in the fridge and if you would like to bring out their delicate scent and flavor, leave them in the sun for an hour or so before you serve them. Figs have a naturally high sugar content, making them an ideal match for equally intense ingredients, such as salty prosciutto or goats´ cheese. Slice them into wedges, caramelize them and serve them with bitter greens in a salad. Make a fig compote, jam or figgy pudding, make fig fritters or fig tempura or bake them until tender and drizzle with honey, crème fraîche or yoghurt. You can also poach them in port or sweet sherry with flavorings such as cinnamon, vanilla and citrus peel. Or bake this glorious Walnut Fig Cake.
Recipe for Walnut Fig Cake
(“Walnuss Feigen Kuchen”)
Ingredients for the Cake
- 125 grams (1 stick plus 1 tbsp) unsalted butter, room temperature – plus some more for greasing the pan
- 150 grams (3/4 cups) super fine sugar
- one package pure vanilla sugar (1 1/2 tsp or 9 grams - you can substitute pure vanilla extract)
- 75 grams (1/2 cup plus 1 tbsp) AP flour, plus some more for flouring the pan
- ¼ tsp ground cinnamon, from Ceylon if possible
- 2 tsp baking powder with saffron (you can also use regular baking powder) *
- 3 eggs (L), free range or organic, lightly beaten
- 100 grams (3.5 ounces) new harvest walnuts, ground
- 50 grams ( 1.7 ounces) new harvest walnuts, chopped into small pieces
- 6-8 fresh figs (not too ripe, still a bit firm) washed and halved
PLEASE NOTE: you should only use walnuts from the new harvest, they have just appeared in the markets around here.
- some confectioners` sugar
- crème double, clotted cream or crème fraîche
- homemade fig jam
- a few fresh figs
- new harvest walnuts
1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius (350 degrees Fahrenheit).
2. In your electric mixer, cream the butter, sugar and vanilla sugar in a large mixing bowl until pale and fluffy. That should take about 3-5 minutes.
3. In a large bowl, sift together the flour, cinnamon and baking powder.
4. Using a rubber spatula, fold the flour and eggs alternately into the creamed butter mixture.
5. Fold in the ground walnuts and then the chopped ones.
6. Grease a 20 cm (8 inch) baking pan and line the bottom with a round of parchment paper, butter and flour the paper and the pan and shake out the excess.
7. Spoon the mixture into the prepared cake pan.
8. Arrange the figs, cut side up, in a neat layer on top of the cake batter.
9. Bake the cake for about 55 minutes to 1 hour, or until a skewer poked in the middle of the cake comes out clean.
10. Leave to rest in the cake pan for about 10 minutes before turning out and placing on a wire rack.
11. Let the cake cool on a rack.
12. When the cake is cool, dust with confectioners` sugar just before serving.
13. Serve with a nice dollop of crème double, clotted cream or crème fraîche and serve with homemade fig jam and some figs and walnuts (optional).
Walnuts are high in omega-3 oils which make them a healthy snack, but also likely to go rancid quickly. Keep them in a cool, dark place and use as soon as possible.
Walnuts add texture and crunch to salads. Pair them with goats’ cheese and a drizzle of walnut oil or stir them into a classic Waldorf salad. Pickled walnuts can be eaten with cold meats and cheeses - they go particularly well with blue cheese.
Very young walnuts that are still green and in their shells can be salted and pickled to serve with a cheese tray or with cold meats.
* The Dr. Oetker Company in Germany now carries a "Baking Powder with ground Saffron" that I use a lot in baking these days. However, only the regular baking powder is available in the US, other European countries and most other countries where Dr. Oetker products are sold, of course, you can use regular baking powder in this recipe (http://www.oetker.com).