Sunday, September 2, 2012

Fig cake: Gluten free. Vegan. Delicious. It's possible.

One thing I love about Trader Joe's is its seasonal offerings. While I was there on Friday, I ran across a 1-lb container of black California figs. I wasn't sure what I was going to do with them, but I love their versatility (they're good in sweet as well as savory dishes) and the price was right. I figured The Google could help me decide what to do with them.

I found a recipe for a vegan upside-down fig cake at the Cake Duchess blog and used that as the basis for my own attempt at figgy goodness. I made several modifications: I used gluten-free flour instead of regular flour, downsized the recipe so that the cake could fit in a small, 32-oz square pan suitable for a toaster oven, added some lemon juice to the figs for a little kick of tanginess, and incorporated ground flaxseed into the recipe.

The Cake Duchess divided her recipe into four components, and I followed suit, as shown below. Upper left: ~1/2-lb. figs, quartered + 1 tsp brown sugar + lemon juice (two squeezes of half a lemon). Upper right: 1/2 cup almond milk + 1/2 tsp vinegar. Lower left: 2/3 cup gluten free flour (I used Bob's Red Mill) + 1/4 tsp baking soda + 1/4 tsp baking powder + 1 tbsp ground flaxseed + pinch of salt. Lower right: ~1/4 cup brown sugar + 1/2 tsp vanilla + ~1/6 cup vegetable oil (about 2.75 tbsp).

I melted 1 tbsp Earth Balance spread in a saucepan, dumped in the fig mixture, and let it stew on medium heat for about 5 minutes:

Note: You can leave the skin on the figs (shown above) or peel it off. The first time I tried it, I left the peels on. I love the color it imparts to the cake. However, the peeled figs were less chunky.

I mixed together the milk, sugar, and flour components to make the cake batter. If it looks runny, good - it's supposed to:

Wow. Look at that. With my iPhone camera prowess, I should really be a food photographer.

I greased the glass container with a little Earth Balance and covered the bottom with the stewed figs. Then I poured the batter over them:

Then I put the cake into the toaster oven and baked it at 325 degrees F for ~25 minutes, until golden brown (our toaster oven is a convection oven, but in a non-convection oven, I'd set the temp to 350 degrees).

Since it's an upside-down cake, in theory I guess you could run a knife along the edges, set a plate on top of the glass container, and quickly turn it over. But that sort of maneuver seems like a very bad idea for me, personally (I'm bound to end up with a totally broken cake or - more likely - a floor covered in broken glass and sugary goop), so I just scooped it out, dumped it onto a plate, and was pleasantly surprised when the figs ended up on top.

It's moist and nutty, perfect with a hot cup of coffee.

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