Almond,Fig and Anise Cake; Flavors Inspired by my Tetas Fig Jam & Sedo's Garden
This cake is inspired by the fig and yansoon (anise) jam my Teta made growing up for her mooneh (pantry). And my Sidos (grandfather) almond and fig trees that lined our garden. My Teta and Sido are not only the inspiration of this cake but all the work I do on Almond and Fig hence the name of my blog.
This combination of flavors of anise in Arabic called "yansoon" is inspired by tetas jam. She loved infusing her fig jam with aniseed and often walnuts. At Teta's Jam was always a staple on her breakfast table all throughout the year. In the summer there would be an apricot jam with apricot kernels, then figs in late summer and fall and citrus jams in the winter.
Anise has the most delicate and subtle flavor. The anise seeds in this cake are steeped in the milk and ground anise is added to the actual cake. The olive oil makes this cake rich and fruity while the figs offer a refreshing sweet flavor. The flavors in this cake take me home to Palestine, to Teta and Sidos house.
1. Anise taste:
Anise has a licorice flavor that is sweet, and very aromatic.
Anise is not the same thing as fennel or star anise. Although fennel and anise do have a similar flavor, and the plants are somewhat similar looking. Anise and fennel are from the same family of plants but they are a bit different.
2. Anise Extract: To make your own Anise extract see below
Prep time: 15 min
Total time: 1 hour
2 cups sliced figs
1 tbls coarse ground anise seeds or seeds that you can grind in a spice mill yourself
2 bags of anise tea or two Tsp dried anise seeds
3/4 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 cup olive oil
1 tsp of anise extract (see note how to make your own)
3/4 cup almond milk or any milk of your choice
1 cup AP flour
3/4 cup almond flour
1/4 cup sliced raw almonds
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
Pinch of salt
Preheat oven to 375 F. Line a 9-inch cake pan with a circle of parchment paper and brush sides and bottom with a bit of olive oil and dust with flour so cake doesn't stick.
Add 2 bags of anise tea or 2 tsp of anise seeds to the milk and warm through. Steep for 15 minutes. Strain the anise seeds and cool the anise milk, before adding to the eggs so they don't scramble.
In a bowl, whisk the eggs, add the sugar, anise milk, anise extract if using and olive oil. Whisk together until smooth.
In a separate bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients: flour, almond flour, ground anise powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix until it’s combined. Don’t over-mix.
Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan. Top the cake with the sliced figs until you cover the top. Add the sliced almonds. The fruits will sink ever so slightly creating delicious dimples of fruit into the cake once cooked.
Bake the cake until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 35-45 min.
Let the cake cool in the pan until cool enough to handle about half an hour.
Invert the cake onto a cooling rack and let it cool completely before slicing.
Serve with whipped cream flavored with anise extract, or I love to serve it with sweetened plain yogurt with anise extract, and a drizzle of honey.
How to Make Your Own Anise Extract
To make this extract you need 3 simple ingredients: Anise seeds, a sterilized
jar and alcohol.
Vodka has the most neutral flavor, but you can also use bourbon, brandy, or rum. There's no need to use a top-shelf or high-proof alcohol when making extract. An inexpensive 40% (80 proof) alcohol will work great.
Sterilize a 8-ounce glass jar.
Add 2 teaspoon of anise seeds (crush them slightly to release their natural oils) to the jar, then add 8 ounces of vodka
Seal the jar tightly and store it someplace cool and dark for 8 to 12 weeks.
Then strain out the seeds and store the extract in a glass jar in a dry cool place.