Back when I lived at home and Mum cooked dinner basically every night, ‘cooking’ for me meant baking the occasional cake or whipping up a batch of slice. These days ‘cooking’ is more of a necessity with main meals my focus and dessert something that gets pushed aside to become ‘a cup of tea, a piece of fruit and a hunk of chocolate’. This is the way my waist-line prefers it by the way, but every now and then there’s a special occasion and ‘dessert’ calls for something more than what can be pulled straight out of a packet. Still, I’m lazy and impatient. And if I’m going to spend time on making food, these days I really prefer to create an exotic salad or a delicious meat marinade rather than fiddling around with butter, sugar, cream and measuring cups. At the same time, I can’t stand packet-mix desserts. A waste of calories, I think. If you’re going to indulge, it should be in proper food. But what I’ve realised, particularly inspired by my Italian friends, is that delicious doesn’t have to mean complicated. The simple combination of great ingredients can be enough to make fine food. Before I go into the details of my new-found coffee and fig cake, I need to extend some thanks to my Italian inspirations – Eliza for supplying the recipe (I hope I’ve done it right!) and Lucy and Mario for supplying the figs (I get so excited every year when their tree starts to fruit!).
This is like a fresher version of tiramisu for cheats. I only made a mini version for Dan and myself but it took about 15 minutes to make in total. No baking, no measuring, just a bit of fig-chopping and cream-whipping. I think this is the kind of recipe that you can guess your measurements depending on how big you want to make it, but I’ll include the approximate amounts that I used to give you an idea.
– Packet of sponge-fingers (Half a packet for a mini one – we used the ones that say they’re for tiramisu [Eliza, I hope these are ok!])
– Black brewed coffee (About 2 cups worth. I used plunger decaf because I was scared I wouldn’t sleep)
– Fresh figs, sliced however you like them (I ended up chopping somewhere between 6 and 8 smallish ones).
– Cream, whipped (About half a small tub. I added about 4 tsp of sugar to give it some flavour)
The cake is made by layering these ingredients. I did it in order of: coffee-dipped sponge fingers, cream, figs.
– Dip one side of a sponge finger quickly in the coffee and place on the serving plate. Be careful not to leave it in the coffee too long because they disintegrate mighty quickly! Dip the second sponge finger in the coffee and place it on the plate next to the first. Repeat until you have used half your sponge fingers.
– Spread a layer of whipped cream on top of the sponge fingers.
– Place a layer of sliced figs on top of the cream.
– Repeat these three steps on top of the first half of the cake.
We ate ours only about an hour after I made it and the sponge fingers were still half crunchy. Dan reckons he likes it that way but I suspect they’re meant to be soggier. I’m looking forward to the soggy left-overs tonight!
I loved this recipe because it was so simple to construct yet with such complex flavours. The only thing that makes it difficult is availability of figs – they’re not in the shops as often as I would like and they’re super expensive. It’s great to have a few friends with fig trees but unfortunately fresh figs are a treat I can only enjoy a couple of times a year.
I bet this recipe would taste nearly as good with a different kind of fruit – I’m thinking orange or berries or something that might go with coffee. I could also think about replacing the coffee with some kind of alcohol or a different drink…
It reminds me quite a lot of chocolate ripple cake – a delicacy of Dad’s that I used to help him make before special barbeques. Somehow, when you’re a kid, drinking is banned but having a chocolate biscuit drenched in sherry is okay. Yum yum.