Ice cream, for serving, optional
For the cake: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a 7 by 11-inch baking dish.
In a medium saucepan, bring the figs, cinnamon sticks
and 2 cups water to a boil and then let simmer
over medium heat until almost all the liquid has evaporated, about 10 minutes. Discard the cinnamon sticks. Set aside.
In a food processor
, beat the softened butter with the brown sugar and vanilla extract until the mixture is creamy, about 2 minutes. Beat in the eggs
, 1 at a time, scraping down the side of the bowl after each addition, and continue beating until the mixture is light, about 3 minutes. Add the fig mixture and process until pureed. Add the flour and baking soda
just until a smooth batter
forms. Set aside.
Scrape the batter into the prepared baking dish
and bake until the fig cake is springy and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 50 to 60 minutes.
For the toffee sauce: In a medium saucepan
the butter, add the brown sugar and continue cooking for 5 minutes. Add the heavy cream
, bring to a boil, stirring once in a while over moderate heat until it starts to thicken, 8 to 10 minutes. Stir in the vanilla. Keep warm.
For the candied figs: In a small saucepan, bring the sugar and 1 cup water to a boil. Let it simmer until it reaches 300 degrees F on a candy thermometer
, about 10 minutes. Turn off the heat. Place the figs, flesh-side down, on a tray lined with parchment paper. Pour the sugar mixture over the figs to coat them. Let cool at room temperature for 10 minutes until ready to serve.
Using a fork, poke holes all over the top of the warm fig cake. Drizzle
half of the hot toffee sauce over the cake. Return the cake
to the oven and bake for 5 minutes longer until the toffee
sauce is bubbling around the edges but not fully absorbed.
Serve the pudding warm with the remaining toffee sauce, ice cream
, if desired, and candied figs.