My grandparents have a fig tree near their garden in Switzerland. It is large, impassive to the treasures it holds, entrancing. Its leaves, elegant and waving green, shade little purple parcels of fig. It takes a measure of patience to watch the fruit ripen. When it does, it is perfect: floral, woodsy, dusk-colored and heady.
Inside, a white orbit. In the center- like a wound- a reddish blush of seeds. When they are ready, the figs will drip with honey and crack at the bottom, splitting under their heavy sweetness.
Sweet, ripe figs, one of the Shivat Haminim, are perfect for Rosh Hashana, where they are often eaten alongside the ever-present honey with wishes for a sweet year to come. It’s a pairing that works to great effect, and never better than in this cake, where ripe figs are tempered by a dark, honey sweetened chocolate batter.
Full of warm, caramel notes from the honey, moistened with olive oil and studded through with shards of bittersweet chocolate, the cake comes together in one bowl and bakes in half an hour. It is fudgy, deeply flavorful, and rich with cocoa; a small slice would make a refined and sophisticated end to a Rosh Hashana meal. Best of all, it’s sure to win over those who don’t go for the more traditional honey cake, ensuring everyone gets a sweet ending- and beginning.
Chag sameach, and wishing you all a wonderful holiday!
Yields: one 8″ cake
Heavily adapted from here
Why I love this recipe: dark with cocoa, sweet with honey, moist with olive oil and studded through with shards of chocolate, this fudgy, one-bowl cake is the perfect foil to the sweet, ripe figs it’s topped with.
Notes: choose ripe figs for this cake. They should feel plump and heavy for their size and have bursting skin towards the bottom. The wetter and more honeyed they are inside, the better. This cake can be frozen, well wrapped, for a month.
Variations: substitute half the flour for almond flour. Experiment with gluten free flour blends. Use raspberries in place of the figs.
For the cake:
- 1 cup spelt (or white spelt or all purpose) flour
- 1/2 cup cocoa powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1/2 cup light olive oil
- 3/4 cups runny honey
- 2 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 4 oz. chopped bittersweet chocolate
- 8 oz. (1 cup) fresh figs, stems removed and sliced into rounds
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line an 8-inch cake pan with parchment paper and butter it.
- Sift the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt together in a bowl.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer on medium low, whisk the olive oil together with the honey, eggs and vanilla. Beat for two minutes.
- Fold in the flour mixture, followed by the chopped chocolate.
- Pour the batter into the pan, use an offset spatula to smooth the top, and arrange the sliced figs on top in concentric circles.
- Bake the cake until it is just set, but still wiggly in the center, 30 to 35 minutes. Cool the cake, dust with confectioners’ sugar, and serve.