Do you know how good it feels to be back in the kitchen? Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been absolutely loving hanging out with my baby son, Nolan, squeezing him and smelling his head and kissing his cheeks. We’ve walked to the park, visited the grandparents’ houses, and even made a brief journey to the mall. But I have missed whipping up recipes, and I’ve really missed not having homemade desserts every week!
As far as babies go, we got super lucky. Nolan barely cries and is generally content. Recently, he’s been kind of grunty, but it’s usually not too distracting. He even got into a decent sleep schedule fairly quickly, which is good because I was in tears from exhaustion the first week. Now, he only wakes up once in the night to eat, then goes right back to bed until the morning. I’m still working on the best method of getting recipes and photos done when I’m home alone with him, because this boy really loves his cuddle time. To be fair, I really love my cuddle time, too, so I might be part of the problem.
I had my whole baking calendar planned out through November, but one morning my friend, Daryian, texted me saying that she saw a pack of 24 figs for six bucks at the store, and did I want her to get it for me? Ummm, yeah? She made the fig drop, cuddled Nolan for a little bit, then left me with the fruit and my thoughts. They definitely weren’t on my baking schedule, which was a stupid oversight on my part, because how can you get through the summer without making something with figs?
While I’m kind of sad I missed out on the final month of summer baking due to my maternity leave, I am pretty excited to be heading into fall. September is a magical month, because we get the last harvest of our summer produce and can kind of mix and match summer and fall flavors. Figs, for example, have a late summer season. Oranges, while really more prevalent in the winter, are available year round, and they remind me of the cooler weather to come. Add some toasted anise seed, and you’ve got a simple, rustic cake with an earthy flavor that straddles the seasons. And if that wasn’t enough, it’s an olive oil cake. Too much? I don’t think so.
Olive oil cake has always intrigued me, but I’ve never gotten around to making one. We keep two types of olive oil in our house… the everyday stuff and the good stuff. I used the everyday stuff for this cake, because I couldn’t justify pouring $10 worth of olive oil into a cake when I wasn’t sure how it would turn out. So I will just tell you to use whatever quality of olive oil you feel comfortable with. You’ll probably taste the fruity tones of the olive oil more with higher quality oil, but I’m not going to fault you for cheaping out.
This cake is very dense and moist, and if you ask me, it could be eaten for a weekend brunch or a weeknight dessert. It makes me yearn for sweaters and piles of leaves and chilly nights in front of a fire pit. I know there are already a lot of flavors going on here, but drizzling caramel sauce on the top of it wouldn’t be a terrible idea, either. Being out of the kitchen for a month has me a little carried away, I guess.
- Cake Magic
- 2 cups (240 grams) all-purpose flour
- 1¾ cups (350 grams) granulated sugar
- 1½ teaspoons lightly toasted anise seeds
- 1½ teaspoon sea salt
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- 1⅓ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1¼ cup whole milk
- 3 large eggs
- 1½ tablespoons grated orange zest
- ¼ cup fresh orange juice
- 2 tablespoons Triple Sec
- 9 Brown Turkey or Black Mission figs, halved
- Preheat oven to 350° F. Brush a 9- or 10-inch cake pan (3 inches deep is best, but 2 inches will do) with Cake Magic (alternatively, use oil or butter).
- In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, anise seeds, salt, baking soda, and baking powder.
- In a large bowl, whisk together olive oil, milk, eggs, orange zest, orange juice, and Triple Sec.
- Add dry ingredients to wet and whisk until just combined. Pour batter into cake pan. Arrange halved figs, cut side up, on top of the batter.
- Bake for 60-90 minutes, until a toothpick inserted near the center of the cake comes out clean. Cool completely on a wire rack before serving.