Fig, almond & orange cake with marsala

Fig, almond & orange cake with marsala

By
From
Sicily
Serves
10-12

This is a nutty, dense cake packed with flavour and texture from the figs and two kinds of almonds. It works perfectly at the end of a meal with a spoonful of marscarpone and glass of dessert wine, such as the apricot-flavoured wine from Pantelleria, or with coffee in the morning, or the Vanilla Ice Cream. Figs grow wild all over the island and are dried to last through winter. Try to find dried figs that are still soft and flexible; if you can’t, soak them in warm water for 30 minutes before using. Oranges of various types are available most of the year in Sicily but the most popular, the blood orange Tarocco, is only available in the winter months.

Ingredients

Quantity Ingredient
150g whole almonds
250g soft dried figs
150g softened salted butter
100g brown muscovado or caster sugar
3 eggs, separated
200g ground almonds
1 small orange, finely grated zest
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon baking powder
4 tablespoons marsala, brandy or orange juice
mascarpone, to serve (optional)

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 170°C. Cut a circle of baking parchment measuring 34 cm across and loosely push it into the sides a 23 cm tart tin to line it.
  2. Toast the whole almonds for 10-12 minutes or until the skins start to split in the oven. Remove and allow to cool. Chop by hand or put into a food processor and blitz until you have a rough, sandy texture. Set aside and then do the same with the figs.
  3. Beat the butter and sugar together with an electric whisk until pale and fluffy. Add the egg yolks, one at a time, and beat in. Add the figs, both kinds of almonds, orange zest, vanilla extract and baking powder and fold in using a large spatula or metal spoon. Whip the egg whites to stiff peaks. Use a quarter of this to loosen the sticky almond and fig mixture by folding it in with a large metal spoon. Then gently fold in the rest of the egg whites. Pour into the prepared tin and level the top with a palette knife.
  4. Place the tin in the middle of the oven and bake for about 35–40 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean. Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the tin. When the cake is at room temperature pierce it all over with a skewer and evenly pour over the Marsala to soak it. As the edges of the baking parchment will have browned in the oven I often serve it from the lining paper on a large wooden board with a bowl of mascarpone for a rustic look.
Tags:
Italy
Italian
Sicily
Sicilian
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