Friday, August 21, 2020


The time between late summer and early autumn is such a wonderful time, and with the sweetest of dilemmas – whether to enjoy the delicious fruit all on its own, to add it to desserts, or to preserve it in sweet syrup for the winter months. Figs, delicate and sweet, are in season just during this time, between summer and autumn. They are naturally fragrant and pair incredibly well with cinnamon, just a tiniest drop of orange blossom water, and dark chocolate.
I am a great supporter of adding fermented milk products to cakes. Especially chocolate cakes. Utmost softness aside, they truly give a unique, delectable flavour to any chocolate cake. Every slice of this little charmer is a true delight, light and velvety, and topped with a tender poached fig, like an amber jewel. Soft and sticky, it almost resembles a toffee pudding in texture.
Serve it well chilled, when the syrup is icy cold, and the figs are soft and bursting with flavour. And by all means, do pour a glass of your favourite dessert wine.

For the chocolate kefir cake
200 grams kefir
150 grams plain flour
150 grams granulated sugar
20 grams unsweetened cocoa powder
50 millilitres vegetable oil
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon orange blossom water
For the poached fig sauce
450 grams fresh, ripe figs
450 millilitres cold water
250 grams granulated sugar
50 grams dark brown sugar
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
big pinch of salt

To make the poached fig sauce, very delicately peel the fresh pigs, and remove the stems. Pour the cold water into a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan, add in both types of sugar, cinnamon, and salt, and very gently mix so the sugar starts to dissolve lightly. Place the saucepan over medium-high heat, and let the sugar syrup come to a boil. Cook, without stirring, for 5-6 minutes, or until thickened. Carefully add in the figs, gently shake the saucepan, and lower the heat so the syrup only gently simmers. Simmer the figs, without stirring, until they become soft, but not mushy, about 30 minutes. The syrup should be glistening, and the figs should be tender. Let the sauce cool down completely.
To make the chocolate cake, take a large mixing bowl, and sift in the plain flour and the cocoa powder. Briefly whisk together, and then add in the granulated sugar, cinnamon, and the baking soda, and whisk again. In a separate bowl, whisk together the kefir, oil, vanilla, and the orange blossom water. Pour the wet ingredients over the dry ingredients, and mix until only combined. Line a small square baking pan (18x18 cm) with baking parchment, pour in the batter, and bake it immediately in a preheated oven, at 200°C, for about 15-18 minutes. Test the cake with a toothpick, there should be no crumbs sticking to it when taken out. Let the cake cool down completely in the pan. To serve, place a piece of the chocolate cake on the serving plate, add a fig or two on top, and a generous drizzle of the syrup. Yields 9 rich servings.

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