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Fresh Fig Breakfast Cake and a Road Trip

  If you wish to test the quality of your friendship/relationship with someone, I've figured out that there are two specific ways to do this.  One is to go on a 3-hour tubing route on a river in rural Wisconsin.  No phones, no bathrooms, no stops.  Just you, the other person, two floating tubes tied together with baling twine, and whatever passersby you happen upon.  It works, and it's pretty great when done with the right person.

  The other way is to take a road trip almost across the country in a two-door Cavalier crammed with most of your life's belongings, and only stopping for one night.  That's real.

  Oh, by the way, I'm in Arizona.  That's weird.  There's fresh figs here, some odd trees, cacti, lizards, and a whole lot of heat.  A whole lot.  But I made it, and it's been almost a week since we pulled in and I promptly hit the makeshift bed on the floor and fell asleep.

  This trip was made possible by a good ol' American atlas, lots of Snapple with chia seeds, one-too-many cheeseburgers, short shorts, too much gasoline, Spotify Premium, and some danged majestic landscapes.

  What can't be pictured is the sore backs, prolific amount of humidity, frustrated driving, the mini panic attacks of making such a big move, and the overwhelming sense of solitude that you can only find in the backseat of a car with your earbuds blaring.

  We waved goodbye to Wisconsin and passed through Iowa, stopped for a bite in Missouri, were practically blown across an incredibly humid Kansas, stopped for the night in Oklahoma, tipped our hats to Texas, gawked through the entirety of New Mexico, and finally FINALLY made it to Arizona.

  I'm still sort of in denial.  I sent my dad back home on Saturday, and today I finally got a chance to sit down and breathe.  The none-too-subtle "Now what?" was echoing off the walls of this empty apartment, and my email inbox remained empty as the five applications for part-time work I've submitted are still pending.  Sigh.

  It's all so new I can barely wrap my head around it.

  So today I got lost looking for Target, ended up running to the nearest grocery store (Which is incredibly close and has way more variety than the Piggly Wiggly in Evansville, WI) and raided the baking aisle.  I browsed unfamiliar brands of butter, bought cheese made in California, was asked twice what part of Wisconsin I'm from, and spent way too much money on food.

  But at the end of the day I had a cute little skillet breakfast cake (controversial, I know, but this cake is good at any time) topped with fresh figs that my Aunt had stolen found hanging over the sidewalk.  They were sun-warmed and sweet, and unlike any fruit I've eaten.  Vaguely reminiscent of kiwis, but such a different texture and a bit more bitter.

  The cake is a simple, not-too-sweet buttermilk concoction.  It's incredibly fluffy and moist, and kind of reminds me of a sturdier pancake in flavor.  It's a solid base for almost any chopped fruit, and a cinch to put together with just a whisk and a couple of bowls.  I downsized from Joy the Baker's 10-inch skillet because there's only two of us and the little doggies here, but feel free to double it and make it bigger as you wish.

  So, yeah.  Here we sit.  Gonna see what's what and buy baby bananas, and try really hard not to think too much in all this downtime.  Here's to making friends reallll soon, maybe with the help of some cake.

Fresh Fig Breakfast Cake
Yield: one 6-inch cake

Ingredients for the cake:
  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Ingredients for the topping:
  • 5-6 fresh figs (depending on the size), sliced in half
  • Sliced almonds
  • Turbinado, coarse, or granulated sugar
  • Powdered sugar for dusting

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F and grease and flour a 6-inch cast-iron skillet.  You can also use a 6-inch cake pan.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cardamom, and granulated sugar.  In a small bowl, whisk together the egg, buttermilk, butter, and vanilla.  

Add the buttermilk mixture all at once to the dry mixture.  Stir until just combined and no lumps remain.  Spoon batter into prepared pan.  Top batter with fresh figs, gently pressing them part-way into the batter.  Sprinkle with sliced almonds and a generous amount of preferred sugar.

Bake for 25-35 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.  Allow to cool to room temperature before dusting with powdered sugar and serving.  Cake will last in the fridge, well wrapped, for up to 3 days.

Sources: adapted from Joy the Baker

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