This delicious jammy fig and ricotta loaf is the ultimate showstopper. Whether it’s to be eaten for afternoon tea, as a dinner party dessert, or with a friend and a cup of tea, you can’t really go wrong. This is a beautiful dessert that requires very little effort to make and also freezes well without the icing. It’s best eaten on the day of making, otherwise you can store it in the fridge for up to three days, or freeze as mentioned. If this is the only thing you decide to do with figs this year, you won’t be sorry you’ve tried this.
You can also make this jammy fig loaf without the figs inserted before baking for a simple ricotta and olive oil loaf with a hint of lemon. Serve with a dollop of icing and top with fresh figs, plums, blackberries or cherries. If you fruit is a little tart, toss them with a little honey or heat over the hob with a little sugar and water for a warming compote.
Ingredients and alternatives:
- Flour: I prefer to use the flour stated in the recipe for best results. However if you’d like to try an alternative, almond flour and buckwheat flour are beautiful in this loaf too.
- Eggs: instead of two large eggs, you can use two medium eggs.
- Olive oil: I choose to use Extra Virgin olive oil in this loaf for its rich flavour. Alternatively, you could use rapeseed / canola oil, coconut oil, or sunflower oil.
- Sugar: my preference for a fluffy crumb is caster sugar for its smaller granules. Saying that, granulated sugar would also work or you could choose golden caster sugar for a more caramel flavour.
- Vanilla: I’m in love with vanilla bean paste for a richer flavour, but vanilla essence would be fine too.
- Ricotta and mascarpone: you can certainly interchange the two, using mascarpone in the sponge instead of the ricotta. Mascarpone is smoother for the icing, so a better choice.
- Figs: plums, pears, peaches or apricots would work nicely in this recipe too if you can’t get your hands on figs.
What makes this jammy fig and ricotta cake so special?
- It requires very little effort to make this jammy fig and ricotta loaf, but is outstandingly good and makes for a luxurious dessert.
- The olive oil and ricotta keep the loaf beautifully moist.
- Fresh figs elevate this bake. Make sure they’re nice and ripe for the best flavour.
- You can skip the icing, and dust simply with icing sugar instead for a low-key option.
- Easy to serve warm, or at room temperature. Both options taste great!
Tips to read before you begin:
Don’t over-mix your batter
- Over-mixing can cause excessive gluten development, therefore resulting in a tough or densely baked good. It’ll also deflate your batter.
- Use a spatula to fold the dry ingredients in, scooping up one side of the bowl back into the centre in a figure of eight.
- Stop when all the ingredients are just incorporated and you can’t see any more flecks of flour.
Choose fresh, ripe figs
- You can tell when figs are ripe by giving them a gentle squeeze. If they’re slightly soft, they’re ready to eat. They’ll have a beautiful pink colour and more flavour.
- This helps add moisture to the loaf.
- By choosing fresh figs, the nectar in the fruit will gently caramelise in the oven while the loaf bakes giving it that gorgeous jammy texture.
Jammy Fig and Ricotta Cake
For the cake
- 240 ml ricotta
- 80 ml Extra Virgin olive oil
- 200 g caster sugar
- 1 tbsp lemon zest
- 2 large eggs
- 190 g plain flour
- Pinch fine sea salt
- 1/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda
- 8-10 fresh figs
For the icing
- 200 ml double cream
- 150 g mascarpone
- 1 tsp vanilla bean paste
- Honey or maple syrup For drizzling
For the cake
- Preheat your oven to 175C / 350F.
- Butter and line a 2L loaf tin with parchment paper.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the ricotta, olive oil, granulated sugar and lemon zest. Add the eggs, one at a time, whisking well after each addition until fully incorporated.
- Sift in the flour and bicarbonate of soda, then add a pinch of salt. Using a spatula, fold in the dry ingredients until just combined. N.B. Over-mixing can deflate your batter and cause excess gluten development so go easy. Folding rather than mixing vigorously is the best method for this.
- Pour into the prepared loaf tin, spreading it out evenly with the back of your spatula.
- Half the figs and place them on the top of the batter cut side up, then bake for 55-65 minutes until the top is golden and a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean.
- Let the loaf cool in the tin for 10 minutes before removing from the tin and placing on a wire rack to cool completely.
For the icing
- Whip the double cream in a large bowl until stiff peaks start to form. N.B. You want to stop whisking just as it starts to hold its form.
- Add the mascarpone and the vanilla bean paste, then whisk again for a minute or two until it holds well. Use a spatula to get rid of any air bubbles by gently running it around the bowl.
- Once the loaf has cooled completely, spread the icing on top and finish with fresh figs and a drizzle of honey or maple syrup.
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