today i turn a year older, an occasion mostly met with celebratory cake, birthday cards, and random birthday wishes from high school acquaintances on facebook; but it’s also a day i like to take in, see where i’ve come, and concoct some notion of where i’m going, or where i’d like to be. and i’m super-duper lucky because i get to share it all with my insanely awesome husband who’s birthday was just a few days before mine. so, mid-september has become somewhat of a birthday blowout with multiple cakes, family, and birthday songs, candles, mini weekend trips and love…always tons and tons of love. last year was all about my husband’s favorite combination of sweets, but this year i’m going fruity with it! end of summer fruit is just simply beautiful, with all those purple-y, violet, almost red wine hues going on. so, i wanted to celebrate those colors here, and add some figgy flavor to an otherwise creamy, toasted hazelnut cake. i wasn’t wanting an overly sweet cake either, so the addition of cream cheese in the frosting set a perfect balance to keep it from creeping over to an overly sugary dark side - i guess it’s more of a grown-up cake :) wishing you all the loveliest of weeks! xo hazelnut layer cake w/ fig compote + (vegan) cream cheese frosting (gluten + dairy free) | makes a 2 layer, 6 inch round cake | ingredients hazelnut cake * 3/4 cup brown rice flour * 1/4 cup hazelnut meal (ground from toasted and shelled hazelnuts) * 2 tablespoons arrowroot powder * 1/4 teaspoon fine grain salt * 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder * 3/4 cup all natural cane sugar (or coconut sugar) * 1/4 cup coconut oil (soft, not melted) * 2 free range eggs, room temperature * 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract * 1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk fig compote * 1 cup ripe black mission figs (roughly 12 ounces), cut into quarters * 1 tablespoon grade b maple syrup * 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice * pinch of cardamom (optional) (vegan) cream cheese frosting * 12 ounces vegan cream cheese (i like Tofutti or Follow Your Heart) * 1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons organic palm shortening * 1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons organic powdered sugar * 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract garnish * leftover figs, cut or whole * elderberries, champagne grapes or whatever you have on hand instructions hazelnut cake * preheat oven to 350° and line the bottoms of each cake pan with parchment paper. then grease and flour pans, set aside * in a large bowl, whisk together the first 5 ingredients, set aside. in another large bowl, combine the sugar and coconut oil with an electric mixer, beat on medium until light and fluffy. add the eggs one at a time until incorporated; then add the vanilla and milk; mix again for about 30 seconds. turn down the mixer to medium-low; a little at a time, add the dry ingredients to the wet * divide batter evenly between the 2 cake pans (this technique of using a scale has always helped me get 2 totally even layers!) and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean * transfer to a cooling rack and allow to cool for 20 minutes; then remove layers and rest on rack until completely cool. wrap each layer in a separate piece of plastic wrap and place in refrigerator; allow to rest for at least 1 hour or up to a day fig compote * place cut figs in a medium saucepan; add the syrup, lemon juice and cardamom (if using). place over a medium flame and stir frequently until figs soften and juices release. allow the figs to fall apart, stirring every so often, use the back of spoon to break them up a bit. once the compote has thickened a bit - about 15-20 minutes, remove from heat and let cool. store in an airtight container in the refrigerator until ready to use cream cheese frosting * in a large bowl, cream the cream cheese and shortening until fluffy. add the vanilla and powdered sugar a little a time and mix until combined (if not using right away, cover with plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator) assemble * remove cake layers from fridge and place on a cake stand or large plate. using an offset spatula, put about 2-3 tablespoons worth of frosting on one cake layer, spread evenly. spread roughly 2-3 tablespoons of fig compote over the frosting, leaving about 1/2 inch of space from the edge. place the other cake layer on top and frost the rest of the cake. garnish with extra figs - cut or whole - elderberries, or whatever other fruits you may have on hand enjoy!