It's late august, this magical time when almost every fruit is in season. Summer berries, stone fruits, autumn apples and pears, to name a few. One sure sign of early autumn is when figs begin to appear. These gorgeous gems of fruit may not get as much love as apples and pears, but they should! They're delicious eaten raw, with a drop of honey or baked into breads and cakes. Cakes like this chocolate fig loaf cake.
more on figs
a fig is technically a ball of flowers that bloom inward. slice one open and it's a truly magnificent sight. the texture of the a fig is smooth on the outside, with a slightly grainy interior. it is sweet, almost floral, but not cloyingly so. to learn more about how a fig is pollinated, this is a great read.
figs are a good source of calcium, potassium, manganese and dietary fiber. they are available most times of the year. but, are often found in American grocery stores for few weeks in June and again from late August - October. the most popular varieties you'll find while shopping are: black mission figs, brown turkey figs and green kadota figs.
when shopping for figs, look for fruit that is slightly soft with no visible breaks in the skin. to store figs, remove them from the original container. place in a shallow container in the fridge. before eating, remove the stem and give them a rinse under water.
pairing figs with other foods
Figs pair wonderfully with many sweet and savory foods. When thinking about pairings, stick with mediterranean flavors.
For savory dishes, figs pair well with:
- onions, peppers, garlic and anchovies
- ham, turkey, lamb and chicken
- hard cheeses, goats cheese, soft cheeses + blue cheese
For sweet dishes, figs pair well with:
- vanilla ice cream, yogurt, mascarpone and crème fraiche
- almonds, walnuts + hazelnuts
- cinnamon, anise, mint + vanilla
- honey + chocolate
With chocolate, vanilla + almonds, this chocolate fig loaf cake works so beautifully together!
a few tips to make a great loaf cake
- Stir in the dry ingredients and milk into the wet ingredients by hand. this prevents over mixing (deflating the cake).
- See recipe notes if using unsweetened cocoa powder instead of the dutch processed listed in the recipe.
- Use a good quality dutch processed cocoa powder. I really love KAF or Rodelle
- Use room temperature ingredients.
- Lightly coat the fig pieces in flour to prevent the fruit from sinking to the bottom.
- Fully preheat your oven. Most ovens need 20-25 minutes to fully heat up. use an oven thermometer to double check the internal oven temperature
- Use a light color, aluminum loaf pan if you have one.
- Line with parchment paper to prevent "balding" when using a metal pan.
- If using a glass, ceramic or stoneware loaf pan, reduce the oven temperature by 25 F (325F). Start checking for doneness (toothpick comes out clean, slight pull from the edge) at 45 minutes.
- Cool in the pan for 15 minutes, then remove to cool to room temperature out of the pan
more fall cake inspiration
- Matilda's Chocolate Cake
- Chai spiced apple cupcakes
- Brown butter pumpkin bread
- Brown butter pumpkin bars with caramelized white chocolate mascarpone
chocolate fig loaf cake
- 9 X 5 loaf pan
- parchment paper
- electric or stand mixer
chocolate fig loaf cake
- 1 c (120g) all purpose flour,
- 1/2 c (60g) cake flour (sub: see notes)
- 2 tsp (8g) baking powder
- 2/3 c (55g) dutch process cocoa powder (sub: see notes)
- 1 tsp espresso powder, sifted (see notes)
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 4 tbsp unsalted butter, softened
- 1/4 c (60ml) extra virgin olive oil (or neutral oil such as vegetable, canola or grapeseed)
- 1 1/4 c (250g) granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs, room temperature
- 1 1/2 tsp (6g) vanilla extract
- 2/3 c (157ml) milk, room temperature
- 1 c fresh figs, chopped
- 2 tsp all purpose flour
- 4 oz 60-70% chocolate bar, evenly chopped
- 4 oz heavy cream
- 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 5-6 figs, sliced
- 2-3 tbsp sliced almonds, optional for topping
- pinch of salt, optional for topping
chocolate fig loaf cake
- Preheat oven to 350 F. Line a 9X5 loaf pan with parchment paper, leaving 1-2" overhang on the long sides. Set aside.
- Sift flours, baking powder, dutch process cocoa powder, espresso powder and salt into a mixing bowl. Whisk together until well combined. Set aside.
- Toss the chopped fresh figs with 2 tsp flour
- Using electric beaters or a stand mixer with whisk attachment, beat the butter and oil together on medium speed until smooth and well combined, about 3-4 minutes. Turn down to low, stream in sugar. Once fully added, turn speed to medium and beat until light and fluffy, 2-3 minutes. Scrape sidesAdd eggs, one at a time, beating on low speed about 20 seconds before adding the next egg. Add vanilla, beating on low until well combined. Scrape sides Beat all ingredients on medium low for an addtional minute.
- By hand, sift in the dry ingredients to the wet, alternating with the milk, starting/ending with the dry ingredients: dry, milk, dry, milk, dry. Stir each addtional until just combined. Gently fold in the flour coated chopped figs. Pour 1/2 chocolate cake batter into the prepared loaf pan. Using a small offset spatula or back of a spoon, evenly spread the batter into the corners. Pour remaining 1/2 batter into the pan. Evenly spread the batter into the pan.
- Bake at 350 F for 50-60 minutes. Check the bread around 45 minutes. Insert a toothpick into the center. If the batter is wet, bake in 5 minute increments, checking each time by inserting a toothpick into the center (close to the center, but not the same part each time). When the toothpick comes out clean and the edges are slighly pulled from the sides, the bread is done. Cool in the pan, on top of a cooling rack for 15 minutes. Using a butter knife, gently loosen the unlined edges from the pan. Gently lift the bread out of the loaf pan using the pieces of parchment overhang. Cool an addtional 45 minutes before topping with the ganache. ***The kind of pan used changes the baking times and outcome of the final cake. This recipe was tested using a light color, aluminum loaf pan.
- Evenly chop chocolate into small pieces. Place in a wide, shallow bowl.
- Heat milk in a sauce pan until just scalding. This can also be done in the microwave, using a heat proof bowl in 30 second increments.
- Pour the steaming milk on top of the chocolate pieces. Let sit for 3 minutes. Add the vanilla extract and salt. Whisk together until smooth and well combined. Let sit for 5 minutes before pouring onto the cooled chocolate loaf cakeOnce on the cake, let sit for 10 minutes to slighly set. Top with fresh figs and almond slices.