Friday, September 04, 2009

Light at the end of the tunnel and a simple cake

As my friend J aptly pointed out, this has been the longest break ever on my blog. I didn't realize that some of you still take a peep into this space from time to time to check on me! Truth is, the past month was nothing short of a roller coaster ride. From the despair of inevitable unemployment to the various empty promises, I was all ready to pack my stuffs and head back to Atlanta.

Who would have thought that the last interview I had in less than a week before my scheduled departure would land me a job on the very same day? It feels so surreal and call me superstitious, I try to keep it really quiet before I sign the contract. No job status updates on Facebook, because that has been "established" to jinx whatever good things coming my way.

The first thing I did after signing the contract, was to buy a plane ticket to Atlanta. A much needed break before the commencement of a new career; some quality time with OCT and baking in my long neglected kitchen are in order.

fig & blackberries cake

No fancy, multi steps recipes that take days to complete. I have set out to use the seasonal fruits to bake something for my friends and loved ones. This easy fig and blackberry coffee cake simply fit the bill!

I have combined some sierra figs that a friend passed us, together with some blackberries and peach in the batter. The inspiration comes from Zoe's cake, which is an adaption from Dorie Greenspan's blueberry crumb cake.

fig & blackberries cake

It's a lovely cake to be eaten with a scoop of ice cream or a cup of tea in the afternoon. I bake the cake as a gift for OCT's colleague and a smaller one to nibble in the afternoon.

Note that the cake rises significantly, so you don't want to fill the cake pan too full. If using a smaller pan or a taller pan, you can add some thinly sliced fruits in between the batter for extra moisture. Although it's not absolutely necessary, I find that resting the cake overnight allow the flavor and moisture to redistribute itself. The cake tastes much better the next day.

Ah, the joy of home baking and taking photos under natural light! Stay tuned for more recipes to come. :)

Fig, Blackberry and Peach Coffee Cake
adapted from here

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 freshly grated nutmeg
2/3 cup sugar
zest from half a lemon
3/4 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup milk + 1/4 cup plain yogurt
a couple of figs halved/quartered
a pint of blackberries
half a peach, sliced

Preheat the oven to 350F and lightly oil an 8-inch square pan.

Combine the all purpose flour, baking powder, baking soda, ground cinnamon and nutmeg, sift into a big bowl or onto a piece of parchment paper.

Beat the room temperature butter with sugar, vanilla extract and lemon zest until light and fluffy.

Add the eggs one at a time; make sure that the first one is well incorporated before adding the second. Scrape the bowl to make sure all ingredients are well mixed.

Add in 1/3 of the flour mixture, followed by 1/2 of the milk + yogurt mixture. Alternate the addition of dry and wet ingredients, mix until just combined. Overmix will lead to a tough cake.

Pour the thick batter into prepared pan and arrange fruits in a decorative pattern on top. Bake for 50-60 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean in the center.


  1. Anonymous8:33 PM

    Mandy, good luck to your new found career! ~ Gambatte. Joys

  2. Mandy, all the best!!! I am sure you will do well.

  3. Hi, been following your blog for quite sometime. Glad that you have found a job. I'm sorry to hear that things went bad but that is when we appreciate the blessings we receive :)

    Hope you will find joy in your career. I am so envious of you. Teehee

    God bless.

  4. All the best to you!! :) You will be great! And this cake...amazing! I love the fruit combination!

  5. Anonymous7:40 AM

    How pretty. It looks jewel-studded.



  6. Beautiful cake and bright future! Best of luck to you. We are glad you are back.

  7. all the best on your next career :) and what a gorgeous cake. makes me want to go bake some now. x

  8. Juliana10:06 AM

    Welcome back here. Congrats on your new job! Isn't so nice to do what you love?

  9. Congratulations on your new job! I know you must feel so relieved. :)

    This is a beautiful cake!

  10. Greetings from New York!!
    Congratulation on your new job!
    Your story is so inspiring, from OL to a pastry chef!! maybe someday i will try to bake a cake. Good luck!!

  11. This cake looks really delicious! I hope I could get the figs and make it. Very nice cake!

  12. Congratulations on your new job!

    That cake looks too gorgeous to eat!

  13. Love the fruit combination!

  14. Congrats on your new job! I'm so happy for you :-)

  15. Congrats on your new job! Keep us posted! this cake is gorgeous and scrumptious!

  16. Congratulations on the new job! I hope you'll post a bit about what you're doing. Enjoy your break and your baking!

  17. Superb looking dessert and congrats on the new job.

  18. congratulations on the new job mandy! wishing you all the best!

  19. Hi Mandy, Congrats! and all the best to you :)

  20. Such a beautiful coffee cake, and congrats on the new job!

  21. thank you everyone for your well wishes and encouraging words!

  22. Anonymous9:14 PM

    Hi Mandy,

    You story is very inspiring to me! I'm very interested to attend pastry classes to learn more about it. May I have the school information/website you attended in Chicago? Thanks and God bless.


  23. That looks absolutely wonderful. Hope to try it soon!

  24. Congrats and all the best.

  25. These are delicious little cakes. Thanks for sharing these. Hope everything is going good with the new career since this post.

    Bill M.