Fig Cake For Fall

This is a deliciously unfussy, rustic cake that is perfect for an afternoon snack with a glass of wine.

Makes 8-10 servings

3/4 cup ruby port (I used Muscato)
1 cup honey, divided
2 thin slices lemon
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon (my addition)
16-20 fresh figs, stemmed and halved (I used Calimyrna)
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup yellow cornmeal, preferably medium grind
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup sugar
grated zest 1/2 lemon (I used 1 whole lemon)
1 1/2 sticks (12 tablespoons) unsalted butter, cut into 6 pieces, at room temperature
3 large eggs, preferably at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1. Stir the port and 1/2 cup honey together in small saucepan. Add lemon slices and bring to a boil over medium heat. Lower the heat. Add figs, cover, and cook 4-6 minutes, or until figs are soft but not falling apart. Using a slotted spoon, transfer figs to a bowl. Raise the heat to medium and cook the liquid for 15 minutes, or until slightly thickened; the syrup should coat a metal spoon. Remove from heat and let cool.

2. Place a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F. Butter a 9-inch springform pan. Line the bottom with parchment paper and butter the paper. Dust the inside of the pan with flour, tapping out the excess. Put the pan on a baking sheet lined with parchment.

3. Whisk flour, cornmeal, baking powder, and salt.

4. In a separate bowl, add sugar and lemon zest; rub together with your fingertips until the sugar is moist. Add butter. Using a hand mixer, beat the butter and sugar at medium speed until creamy, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, beating for 1 minute after each addition. Pour in remaining 1/2 cup honey, and the vanilla extract; beat for 2 minutes. Reduce mixer speed to low, add dry ingredients, and mix until just incorporated. The batter will be fairly thick. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and jiggle the pan from side to side to even out the batter. Scatter poached figs over the top.

5. Bake for 55-60 minutes, or until the cake is puffed and golden brown and a knife inserted into the center comes out clean. Transfer the cake to a rack and cool for 10 minutes before running a blunt knife around the edges and releasing the sides of the pan. Cool the cake slightly before serving. Serve warm or at room temperature. Drizzle slices with wine sauce.