A few weeks ago I made this Almond Fig Cake Recipe as a surprise for my friend Sherrie’s birthday. It’s lightly adapted from The Farmette Cookbook, the gorgeous and inspiring work of another friend, Imen McDonnell. Imen lived in Minneapolis for several years before marrying an Irish farmer, and moving across the Atlantic to build a life with him.
She was back in town this summer, and several of us got together for an afternoon tea (as the Irish do) to celebrate her new book. As I’ve been making my through it, I’ve been just as engrossed in the colorful stories of her adventures in learning to cook the Irish way, and adjusting from big city life to farm life, as I have in the recipes.
Imen actually calls this Frangipane Cake, with a quality of “moreish”, an Irish colloquialism that means something you just can’t get enough. Which explains why I’ve been dreaming about it since she made it for us that summer afternoon.
Frangipane refers to it being made from a base of almonds, sugar, and butter which results in a cake as soft and moist as you could imagine, yet dense enough for the swipe of your fork. Almond flour has a magical touch like that.
In the cookbook, it’s made as a blank canvas, which is how she served it to us, with a dusting of sugar. Incredibly lovely. But with figs in season, I decided to use them as a cake topper, and drizzle the whole thing with honey, reducing the sugar in the actual cake as these two additions would take it’s place. And to make it gluten-free, I replaced the minimal amount of all-purpose flour (it’s nearly all almond flour) with tapioca starch.
The other beauty of this cake is that it’s incredibly easy to make. No whipping egg whites, multiple pans, or fussy decorating. Perfect for last minute plans, and whatever in season fruit you have on hand. Thank you Imen, for introducing me to a dessert that will be served to many a guest in my house.