Fig and Vanilla Bean Upside-Down Cornmeal Cake

Recipe development by Marian Cooper Cairns / Photo by Matt Armendariz
A toothsome, crunchy cornmeal cake and velvety caramelized fig bottom layer combine to create a dessert that triumphs in both texture and taste.

Fig and Vanilla Bean Upside-Down Cornmeal Cake
Makes 1 (9-inch) cake
  • ¾ cup (170 grams) unsalted butter, softened and divided
  • ½ cup (110 grams) firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 12 fresh figs (467 grams), sliced ¼ inch thick
  • ¾ cup (150 grams) granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs (150 grams)
  • 1 cup (150 grams) fine yellow cornmeal
  • ⅔ cup (84 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 1½ teaspoons (7.5 grams) baking powder
  • ¾ teaspoon (2.25 grams) kosher salt
  • ¾ cup (180 grams) whole buttermilk
  • 2 teaspoons (12 grams) vanilla bean paste
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C). Line bottom of a 9-inch round cake pan with parchment paper; grease pan and parchment.
  2. In a small saucepan, melt ¼ cup (57 grams) butter over low heat; stir in brown sugar. Pour into prepared pan. Arrange figs slightly overlapping on top of brown sugar mixture. Set aside.
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat granulated sugar and remaining ½ cup (113 grams) butter at medium speed until fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes, stopping to scrape sides of bowl. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
  4. In a medium bowl, whisk together cornmeal, flour, baking powder, and salt. In a small bowl, whisk together buttermilk and vanilla bean paste. With mixer on low speed, gradually add cornmeal mixture to butter mixture alternately with buttermilk mixture, beginning and ending with flour mixture, beating just until combined after each addition. Pour batter over figs.
  5. Bake until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean, 55 minutes to 1 hour. Let cool in pan for 15 minutes. Run a knife around edges of cake. Turn out onto a serving plate. Serve warm.


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