I've been making my grandmother's (reworked) fig cake recipe for several years now. It's quick and easy to make and it's a crowd pleaser. Usually I make it and leave it on the counter and the pieces disappear one by one, a casual Bundt cake that beckons to anyone passing through the kitchen. But this summer, I took it to a dinner party in the country, where a good fig cake is always appreciated, and the host served it with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top. I thought it elevated that simple cake and I immediately started thinking of a fall version.
My original recipe calls for chopped pecans in the cake, but I took them out of the cake and candied them with cane syrup instead, as a topping for the ice cream. I could have stuck with the vanilla ice cream, which was very good, but I'm a huge fan of nutmeg and I thought the mellow spiciness would be a great seasonal accompaniment.
The nice thing about this dessert is that all of the components work on their own, so you can mix-and-match, make one or all of them. It can serve as a substitute or an accompaniment to the traditional Thanksgiving pie, and it will take you all the way through the winter months.
2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
3 large eggs
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 dash salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 cup buttermilk
1 cup fig jam or preserves (see note)
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Liberally grease and flour a 10-cup Bundt or tube pan. (I use solid shortening.)
2. Mix sugar, oil, and eggs until well blended (if using a standing mixer, mix on medium speed).
3. In another bowl, combine dry ingredients, then add the dry ingredients alternately with the buttermilk. Mix well.
4. Fold in fig jam or preserves (if there are any large fig pieces in your preserves, mash them into smaller pieces with a fork).
5. Bake for 50-60 minutes, or until an inserted toothpick comes out with just a few crumbs. Let the cake rest in the pan for 15 or 20 minutes. Using the tip of a knife, gently loosen the cake from the sides of the pan and invert on a wire rack to finish cooling.
NUTMEG ICE CREAM
Yield: 1 Quart
2 teaspoons freshly grated nutmeg
2 cups half-and-half
1 whole nutmeg, cracked
3/4 cup sugar
6 egg yolks
1 cup heavy cream
1. Toast grated nutmeg (a Microplane grater is perfect for this) in a skillet over medium heat, 1-2 minutes. Remove pan from heat; set aside.
2. Heat half-and-half and cracked nutmeg in a 4-quart saucepan until it just begins to simmer. Remove from the heat; let steep for 10 minutes.
3. In a bowl, whisk together sugar and yolks. While whisking, slowly pour in the half-and-half mixture. Return the mixture to the pan; cook, stirring, until the mixture thickens, about 8-10 minutes.
4. Pour through a fine strainer into a large bowl. Whisk in toasted nutmeg and cream; cover custard and chill, at least 2 hours or preferably, overnight.
5. Freeze custard in an ice cream maker; transfer to an airtight container. Freeze until set (about 4 hours) before serving.
CANE SYRUP CANDIED PECANS
Nonstick vegetable oil spray
3 tablespoons Steens cane syrup
1 1/2 tablespoons cane sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups pecan pieces
1. Preheat oven to 325 degreesF. Spray baking sheet with nonstick spray. Combine cane syrup, cane sugar, and salt in a medium bowl; stir to blend. Add pecans; stir gently to coat. Transfer to baking sheet.
2. Place a large piece of foil on work surface. Bake pecans 5 minutes. Using fork, stir pecans to evenly coat with the melted sugar mixture. Continue baking until the pecans are golden and the coating bubbles, 10 to 15 minutes.
3. Transfer the nuts to the foil and separate them with a fork. Cool. Store in an airtight container at room temperature, up to 3 days.