Regular readers will know about my passion for figs. When I wrote Fig Crumble and Trojan War it seemed at the time to be the ultimate fig recipe, it took a while to find a more delicious way of cooking figs. But another recipe came along and on Saturday I'll be making Upside-Down Caramelised Fig Cake for my neighbour who is moving out after 47 years living in the same street. As you can imagine, she has witnessed much change since the 60s.
Our street is named after the lowest deck on a boat, the deck where Nelson whispered his last words. In Victorian times this tiny street harboured people considered to be the lowest in society. Residents lived on what they could sale or scrap, 17 houses a few of them where brothels.
It had such a reputation that in the first part of the last century, Greenwichers forbid their children to step in the street. Though it had probably enough children of its own. When the 100th child was born it was celebrated with a big street party, yes still only 17 houses.
It was never been adopted by the council and often follows its own rules. Violence ruled for a while, when my neighbour moved in, it was said that if a women didn't have a black eye on Saturday morning then she was either single or her husband was inside.
Nowadays it's much gentrified, still rough and mad at the edges, it has a huge heart and strong sense of community. I first met my neighbour over the "kale incident". When, we first moved in, I was hoping to grow vegetables in the backyard and I planted kale.
A few month later, kale appeared and was duly cooked. Except that glancing at my neighbour's garden, hers was invaded by kale. It didn't take long to register: I had just fed him weeds in white sauce. Over dinner he had registered his dissatisfaction with the taste of the supposed-kale.
I proceeded to tell the tale to my neighbour, whose answer was, "What are you complaining about, it didn't kill you, did it?". A friendship was born. I will miss my neighbour very much, her no-nonsense approach to life, her strength, her ability to laugh in the face of adversity, her stories about her dancing days, her unconditional support to the people whom she calls "her own".
On Saturday, when the removal vans will take half a century of memories out of the street, I'll put a brave face on, make strong cups of tea and pass slices of upside-down caramelised fig cake around.
Upside-Down Caramelised Fig Cake
For the fruit base
2tbsp Demerara sugar
2tsp mixed spice
8mini figs or 4 large ones
For the sponge
3whole eggs their weight in unsalted butter, caster sugar and plain flour2 tbsp. milk
Preheat the oven to 200C/gas 6. To prepare the fruit base, spread the butter all over the bottom of an ovenproof dish (25cm). Mix the sugar and the spices together and sprinkle over the butter. slice the figs horizontally for the large ones cut in halve for the mini figs, place them side up (open side on the sugar)
Make the sponge mix by mixing butter and sugar until pale and creamy. add the eggs one by one, last the flour.
Pour over the fruits and bake for 35 -45 minutes, do the knife of skewer trick to see if it is cooked in the middle
Take out of the oven, run a knife on the edge place a serving plate large enough to cover the cake dish and turn the latter over.
More recipes with figs
Gluten-free chocolate cookies with walnuts and figs at Franglais Kitchen
Rose syrup poached fig & pomegranate pavlova by Jeanne as in Cook-Sister