Preheat oven to 350°F.
- 1-1/2 cups fresh whole ripe figs, sliced in half, stem to blossom end
- 2 tablespoons minced fresh rosemary
- 1/4 cup walnut pieces
- 1/4 cup butter, cut into 1/2-inch or smaller pieces
- 1/3 cup dark brown sugar
- 3 eggs, separated
- Scant 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1-1/4 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- Grated zest of one lemon
Heat a 9-inch cake pan in the oven for 5 minutes. Add the butter and return the pan to the oven for about 3 minutes, just until the butter melts. Take the pan out of the oven. Mix the brown sugar with 1 tablespoon of the rosemary. Sprinkle the mixture evenly over the melted butter. Place the figs, skin side up on top of the mixture. Place the walnut pieces in the spaces between the figs.
Place the flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl and mix well. Whip the egg whites until stiff and set aside. Whip the egg yolks until they are light. Add the sugar to the yolks and whip until the mixture is creamy and fluffy. Add the vanilla, lemon juice, zest, and remaining rosemary. Blend well. Spoon the batter over the figs and even it with an angle spatula. Lightly bump the pan so the batter flows into the figs.
Bake for 40 minutes, checking after 30 minutes. Cool 10 minutes in the pan. Run a knife around the edge of the cake to loosen it form the pan, and turn it onto a serving plate. Eat warm with a triple cream French cheese. It freezes great, too!