Fig and Nectarine Cake
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This fig and nectarine cake is a special way to celebrate the very last of summer. Juicy fruit with a simple batter makes for one delectable dessert.
Babies. Babies seem to have shaped a lot of things in my life, even when they’re not my own. Babies have gotten me work, friends, and in a way, this cake.
As some of you know, a few years ago I began doing some work for Whole Foods Market. The culinary editor at the time was about to go on maternity leave, and I lucked into the role of filling in on some of her tasks. When she returned I stayed, doing various assignments and basically being paid to do lots of fun stuff with really cool people.
We recently had a baby shower for one of the women I work with, and I brought this cake over. I can’t really go to any party without food, especially baby showers — this roasted red pepper and caramelized onion dip is a favorite — so it was a good thing the party was for a group of food-minded folks.
I mean, you can’t show up empty-handed when you’re a food blogger going to a party with food people.
This fig and nectarine cake is a bit surprising. There’s no baking powder or soda, so while it doesn’t rise into a fluffy cake with airy crumb, what happens instead is just as delicious.
If you’ve ever had an almond cake, this is very similar.
The edges firm up while the interior remains quite moist and tender. It’s more dense than you might expect, but the perfect complement to the figs and nectarines studded in the top. With the addition of lemon juice and lemon zest, this is one fragrant and elegant cake!
I love how fancy it looks even though it is very easy to make. It’s perfect with a light dusting of powdered sugar, but you can also scoop up some vanilla ice cream to go on the side.
The cake holds its own with the ice cream, for a wonderful spoonful of combined flavors and textures.
When making this cake, you don’t need to worry about peeling the fruit. I almost never peel peaches or nectarines, because the peels melt into the cake batter a bit. You can peel the nectarines if you want, but it’s really not needed.
As for the figs, well, I don’t know anyone who peels figs! You don’t need to worry about it whether you’re making this cake or a recipe like my honeyed fig and goat cheese muffins.
If you don’t like figs you can leave them out and just use more nectarines, or vice versa.
Swap in seasonal fruit to make this cake all year long, such as in Strawberry Lemonade Cake. I know I’ll keep making versions of this cake for years to come!
The cake keeps well, unrefrigerated, for up to three days, but I doubt it will last that long!
Fig and Nectarine Cake
- Dry bread crumbs, for dusting the pan
- 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
- 3 eggs
- 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled, plus more butter for the pan
- 3 lemons
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 firm but ripe nectarine, cut into thin slices
- 4 fresh figs, cut into eighths
- Powdered sugar, for finishing
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter a 9-inch springform pan and coat with bread crumbs. In a bowl, using a handheld mixer, beat the granulated sugar and eggs at high speed until fluffy, 2 minutes. Beat in the butter. Zest the lemons and set aside 1/3 of the zest. Beat the remaining 2/3 into the batter.
- Juice the lemons and remove seeds. At low speed, alternately beat in the flour and lemon juice until almost incorporated. Using a rubber spatula, gently fold the batter until smooth.
- Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the surface. Gently press in the nectarine slices and figs. Bake the cake on the bottom third of the oven for 40 minutes. Transfer to the upper third of the oven and continue baking for 35 minutes longer, until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean with a few crumbs attached.
- Transfer the cake to a rack to cool. Run a thin knife around the edge and release the springform. Dust the cake with powdered sugar. Sprinkle with the remaining lemon zest, cut into wedges and serve.