Figalicious: Fig & Fennel Cake, Hold the Grappa!
Hi, I'm Stacey, and I'm a FIG-AHOLIC.
So now you know that I have an addition to figs.
Big deal, there are worse things one can be addicted to, like apples or something like that.
I am always searching for the best fig cake (I loved the fig cake I made last time with the olive oil) and will be making the big bundt w/ buttermilk and preserved figs soon......
This cake rivals up there with the excellent ones.
It is a delicious Venetian dessert made with polenta instead of flour, so the gluten free thing is nice for people who can't have wheat.
There is also no butter in this recipe.
The fennel seeds w/ the figs and cornmeal were a beautiful combination, just right served with some Vin Santo for dessert.
This is not a dessert for everyone.
It's almost like a firm bread pudding, because there is no flour and no egg whites. It was very special, it almost felt like we were transported to Venice for the evening. (I wish).
I will print the original recipe from Bon Appetit 2005, however I made some changes.
I substituted the grappa for cognac. Why? Because grappa tastes like lighter fluid to me (not that I have ever sampled lighter fluid) and it is also way too expensive to purchase just for one recipe. The cognac worked out just fine. Any good cognac will do, Hennessy, Courvossier or E&J works too. Don't leave it out.
I also added more figs than called for. Why only 6 figs? I added about 12 dried figs.
One last note: you have to work fast with this cake. The milk and cognac started to boil over and I freaked, but saved it (luckily I have a small kitchen and can just turn and reach for the pot!) in time. Also you have to do a lot of quick whisking.
Just warning you. But I promise it will be worth the effort.
Polenta & Fig Cake w/ Fennel & Pignoli Nuts (adapted from Bon Appetit)
4 large egg yolks
2/3 cup sugar
2 cups of whole milk
1/4 cup grappa (I used cognac)
1/8 tsp salt
1/2 cup polenta (or coarse cornmeal)
1/2 cup dried figs, chopped (I used about 12 figs)
1/3 cup raisins
1/4 cup of pine nuts
1 Tbsp fennel seeds
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Butter an 8" cake pan with 2" sides liberally with melted butter, using a brush.
Beat egg yolks and sugar in a large bowl.
Bring milk, grappa or cognac & salt to a boil in a heavy saucepan on medium heat (be careful, the milk started to boil over).
Working quickly, whisk the hot milk & cognac into your bowl with the egg yolk/sugar mixture. Whisk so the eggs don't cook in the hot milk.
Return the contents of the bowl to the saucepan.
Whisk in polenta, and whisk over medium low heat until the polenta starts to thicken, about 5-7 minutes. Keep whisking!
Turn off heat and fold in figs, raisins, nuts, and fennel seeds. Pour into prepared cake pan and bake 40 minutes until golden brown and starts to pull away from the sides of the pan.
Let cool in pan about 15 minutes, then invert onto a plate.
This cake was best served warm.