Pistachio and Cardamom Cake with Warm Spiced Figs

Transport yourself to the Arabian Nights with Diana Henry's beautiful spiced cake
By Diana Henry
Pistachio and Cardamom Cake with Warm Spiced Figs
  • Rating:
  • Cook Time: 40 minutes
  • Prep Time: 25 minutes
  • Effort: medium


For the cake

  • 50 g polenta
  • 200 g groundchopped pistachio nuts
  • 50 g plain flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 3 eggs
  • 200 g golden caster sugar
  • 125 ml olive oil
  • 100 g butter, melted and cooled
  • 1 lemon, juice and finely grated zest
  • 1 orange, juice and finely grated zest
  • 10 green cardamom pods, seeds crushed

For the fruit

  • 10 figs
  • 8 plums, halved and stoned
  • 2 lemons, juice of both and finely grated zest of 1
  • 6 green cardamom pods, seeds crushed
  • 125 ml orange juice
  • 50 ml water
  • 75 g soft light brown sugar
  • 2 tsp orange flour water
  • 1 pomegranate, seeds only

To serve

  • double cream
  • icing sugar
  • orange flower water


1. For the cake: preheat the oven to 160C/gas 3. Grease and line a 23cm loose-bottomed cake tin.

2. Mix the polenta, ground pistachios, flour and baking powder together in a large bowl.

3. Whisk the eggs and caster sugar together until pale and thick, then slowly whisk in the oil and butter. Fold in the pistachio mixture, and then add the lemon juice, orange juice, zests and cardamom.

4. Pour the mixture into the cake tin and bake in the oven for 40 minutes. The cake should be slightly underdone in the middle, so that if you insert a skewer it will come out with a little of the mixture sticking to it - the cooling process will finish it off. Leave to cool for 10 minutes before removing from the tin.

5. For the fruit: while the cook is cooking, bake the fruit. Quarter the figs but don't cut right through to the bottom. Put them in a shallow ovenproof dish with the halved plums and add all the other ingredients except the pomegranates. The fruit should fit snugly together but be able to lie in a single layer.

6. Bake in the oven for about 20-30 minutes, it depends on how ripe the fruit is.

7. The fruit should be soft (though not collapsed), slightly singed and there should be some syrup around it.

8. To assemble the cake, make little holes all over the sponge with a skewer. While the cake and the fruit are both still warm, spoon the fruit with it's syrup over the top of the cake. Try to keep the figs sitting up a little if you can.

9. To serve: scatter over the pomegranate seeds. Whip the cream and add icing sugar to taste, then add a couple of teaspoons of orange flower water. Serve the cake with the cream.

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