Tu B’shevat

Tu B’shvat (or Tu Bishvat) is the Hebrew term for the date ‘the 15th of Shevat’ which the Mishna (Rosh Hashana 1:1) lists as being ‘the New Year of the Trees

On Tu B’shevat it is customary to eat the seven species of produce from the historic land of Israel:

  1. Wheat
  2. Barley
  3. Grapes
  4. Figs
  5. Pomegranates
  6. Olives
  7. Dates

There is a Midrash (Traditional Jewish story, with a moral to be learned) about an old man, The Emperor and the Fig. Planting is just as important as harvesting... an old man say a fig tree being planted by a man in his 50s. He asked the man if he really expected to live long enough to consume the fruits of his labour. The man replied: "I was born into a world flourishing with ready pleasures. My ancestors planted for me, and I now I plant for my children..."

When we look at this story, we look at the concept of growth, where we bury a seed and leave it to flourish in time. We have little to no control over how quickly this seed grows. Therefore, the growth of this seed can be truly miraculous. This seed can be an opportunity to generate change, and the time and patience learned can be an opportunity to reflect from the inside and out.

What is your growth journey? And how can you play a part in planting the seeds for future generations? Whether this is educating yourself and others on environmental ecology, or planting the seeds of gratitude and kindness for future generations, Tu b’shevat acts as a time to look towards the future.

 

Yotam Ottolenghi's Fig and Almond Cake

Prep time 20 mins

Cook time 45 mins

Total time 1 hour 5 mins

Author: Yotam Ottolenghi

Serves: 8-10

Ingredients

  • 200g unsalted butter
  • 200g caster sugar, plus 1 tsp extra
  • 3 large free-range eggs, lightly beaten
  • 180g ground almonds
  • 100g plain flour
  • ½ tsp salt
  • Scraped seeds of ½ vanilla pod or ½ tsp vanilla paste
  • 1 tsp ground star anise
  • 100g Greek yoghurt
  • 12 figs

Instructions

  1. Heat the oven to 200C. Line the bottom and sides of a 24cm loose-based cake tin with baking parchment.
  2. Put the butter and sugar in an electric mixer bowl, and use a beater to work them well until they turn light and pale. Beat the eggs lightly, then, with the machine on medium speed, add them gradually to the bowl, just a dribble at a time, adding more only once the previous addition is fully incorporated.
  3. Once all the egg is in, mix together the almonds, flour, salt, vanilla and anise, and fold into the batter. Mix until the batter is smooth, then fold in the yogurt.
  4. Pour the batter into the lined tin and level roughly with a palette knife or a spoon. Cut each fig vertically into four long wedges, and arrange in circles on top of the cake, just slightly immersed in the batter.
  5. Bake for 15 minutes, then reduce the temperature to 170C and continue baking until it sets - about 40-45 minutes longer. Check this by inserting a skewer in the cake: it's done if it comes out clean.
  6. Remove the cake from the oven and allow it to cool down before taking it out of the tin and sprinkling with a teaspoon of caster sugar.

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