Fig hazelnut and carob crumble cake
Carob reminds me of my childhood when my mother, a health food fanatic ahead of her time, fed it to us as a chocolate substitute. I didn’t like it much back then, but now I love the flavour, having eaten it in Portugal and other parts of the Mediterranean where it’s grown and widely used in baking and desserts.
It’s naturally sweeter than cocoa and contains less fat, more fibre and is loaded with calcium, so it’s pretty good for you. But all that aside, this cake is lush – the juicy figs, rich carob notes and hazelnuts are a heavenly combination. Carob powder, also known as carob flour, is widely available online and in health food stores, but you can substitute it with 2 tablespoons of cocoa powder if you can’t find it.
Makes a 23cm cake.
100 g skinless hazelnuts
140 g plain (all-purpose) flour
3 tablespoons carob powder
2 teaspoons baking powder
A pinch of fine sea salt
125 g unsalted butter, softened
160 g caster sugar
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
75 ml milk
6–8 figs, quartered
For the crumble
100 g spelt flour or wholemeal plain flour (whole-wheat all-purpose flour)
60 g light brown sugar
60 g unsalted butter
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- Preheat the oven to 170°C. Grease a 23 cm round spring-form cake tin and line the base with baking paper.
- Tip the hazelnuts into a dry frying pan and toast over medium–high heat, shaking frequently, until fragrant and starting to turn golden. Tip into a food processor, then leave to cool for 5 minutes.
- While this is happening, make the crumble mixture. Put the flour, brown sugar, butter and cinnamon in a small mixing bowl. Rub the butter into the dry ingredients with your fingertips until the mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs. Set to one side.
- Now, blitz the hazelnuts until finely ground. Tip into a mixing bowl and add the flour, carob powder, baking powder and sea salt. Whisk together, then put to one side.
- Use an electric mixer or a wooden spoon to beat the butter and caster sugar together until pale and creamy. Add the eggs, little by little, beating well after each addition, until completely combined. Gradually stir the flour mixture into the butter mixture, alternating with the milk, until creamy and well combined.
- Scrape the mixture into the tin and smooth the surface with a spatula. Press the fig quarters into the batter, cut side up, around the side of the tin, as well as one or two in the centre if there’s room. Sprinkle the crumble mixture over the top. Bake for about 40–45 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean. Leave to cool in the tin for 10 minutes before releasing.
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