Studded with fresh figs, this olive oil cake tastes like summer on the French Riviera. (Adapted from Patricia Wells' Winemaker's Grape Cake in At Home in Provence)
Preheat your oven to 350°F. Butter and flour a 9-inch springform pan, making sure to tap out the excess flour. Set aside.
Using a hand mixer, beat the eggs and sugar in a large bowl until thick and a pale-yellow color, about 3 minutes. Add the butter, oil, milk, vanilla extract and mix until blended.
In another bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder and salt. Stir in the lemon zest with a whisk. Spoon the mixture into the other bowl with the batter and stir with a wooden spoon until thoroughly blended. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and mix it once again. Let the mixture rest for 1o minutes to give the flour time to absorb the liquid.
Stir 3/4 of the figs into the batter then transfer to the pan. Place the pan in the center rack of your oven and bake for 15 minutes. (See Note)
After 15 minutes, arrange the rest of the figs on top of the cake and bake until the top is a deep golden brown. This will take another 35 – 40 minutes.
Transfer the pan to a cooling rack and let it rest for 10 minutes. Then run a knife along the sides of the pan and release. Leave the cake on the pan base and let cool to room temperature. Dust powdered sugar on top before serving (optional)
This cake will keep in the refrigerator for a few days.
For simplicity you can use all chopped fresh figs as noted in the instructions but I think the cake is visually more appealing with sliced figs on top. Slice 1/4 of the figs and use these to top the cake after the 15-minute baking time. Whatever you choose to do won't affect the final product.