This time of year brings with it all of the sensual fruits. They seem more decadent, rich and sweet and just a little bit adult. To me they are the fruits of romance. Perhaps it is because the first time I ever ate a syrupy ripe fig was on my honeymoon in the South of France. We had a small house on a hill over looking Saint-Tropez and a fig tree on the terrace. We’d sit under the tree, drink our morning coffee and pluck figs off to eat them while looking at the Côte d’Azur. It is hard not to associate anything in that picture with romance. But the figs were the star. Every year I look forward to eating them on our Anniversary.
For those of you who have never tried a clump of champagne grapes you are in for a great treat. They are intensely sweet and gorgeous. A perfect pair for ripe cheeses if you are inclined to go that route for a final course. Everything you add them to ends up looking like a renaissance painting, which makes them the greatest garnish.They are very special and only available for a limited time every year, right around the fig season.
Today is my 17th anniversary, so it seems fitting that I should bake a cake that contains the most romantic of fruits. Just in case my beloved should decide to read my blog today, and bless his heart he does still read it, I love you more and more every year! This also seems a fitting time to thank you for designing this website for me, a place where I can express my passions, and for all of the technical support to keep it running. You are such a talent and I am so grateful. I look forward to the rest of our life together and by the way I think we should go back to France for our 20th!
I got the inspiration for this simple cake from Dorie Greenspan’s Baking: From My Home to Yours. She used this cake base to create a blueberry crumb cake that looks divine, but I thought the simplicity of the cake would go really well with all of the late summer fruits I wanted to use:
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 freshly grated nutmeg
2/3 cup sugar
1/2 orange zested
3/4 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup buttermilk (I didn’t have buttermilk so I substituted 1/4 cup milk + 1/4 cup plain yogurt)
10 figs halved
1 handful of champagne grapes
1 pint raspberries
Preheat the oven to 350° and butter an 8-inch square baking dish (or one with an equivelent volume).
In a small bowl rub the orange zest and sugar together and set aside. This will bring out the oils in the zest and perfume your cake. Whisk together all of the dry ingredients and set aside.
Cream together the butter and sugar on medium speed, about 3 minutes until light.
Add the eggs one at a time, beating for about 1 minute after each. Add the vanilla and mix in well.
Reduce the mixer and add the flour mixture and the buttermilk alternately, the flour in 3 parts and the buttermilk in 2.
You will end up with a think batter. With a rubber spatula spread it evenly in the pan.
Add the fruit decoratively over the batter.
Bake for about 50-60 minutes, or until it is golden brown and a skewer comes out clean.
Serve with vanilla ice cream and enjoy!! Despite my romantic notions about these fruits my little boys love them too, just because they are so tasty. I guess they aren’t just for adults!
*For those of you who have not yet left a comment in order to win a signed copy of Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day you still have time. We will be picking a winner on September 2nd. Just leave a comment on the Bread-on-a-Stick post.