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If you've only had rosemary in savory applications, you're probably thinking this is not the recipe for you. But keep reading: rosemary is fir tree forest fragrant and lends itself well to sweet recipes.
Cooking seasonally has become a food trend, but for many of us it's just a matter of course: we go to the supermarket and buy fruits and vegetables that are of the moment. It's hard to ignore peaches, cherries, and heirloom tomatoes when they are so full, fragrant, and ripe. If you follow this column you know I try to incorporate as many of them into my cakes as I can, and, on a day-to-day basis, I take advantage of each season's offerings by adding them to breakfast, lunch, and dinner dishes.
Figs are among my favorite summer fruits, particularly because of their versatility and ability to crown a cake or melt into jam for a sandwich. In this recipe, I've paired figs with the aforementioned rosemary, as well as amber honey and orange zest. The cake is made with butter as well as extra-virgin olive oil, which makes for a very tender and moist-crumbed cake. Honey sweetens the cake and also serves as a lustrous, sticky glaze for the fig topping, which is simply fresh figs—quartered to reveal their finely seeded, fleshy interiors—sautéed in butter and seasoned with salt and pepper to add a balance and subtle heat.
The top layer of the cake is slightly trimmed prior to spooning on the warm, gooey figs in order to allow for some absorption of the syrup. Serve this cake while the figs are still warm, perhaps with a scoop of ice cream or a dollop of mascarpone.