Kale + Blackberry + Beet + Almond Milk Smoothies

Kale + Blackberry + Beet + Almond Milk Smoothies

What’s in your morning routine?  I make my bed, splash my face with cold water, drink a giant glass of lemon water, and try to forget about the giant bag of dark chocolate chips I’ve been meaning (and failing) to hide from myself.  I try my best to start things off well, with some clarity and conscious eating… that’s because it’s easy to reason with my relaxed morning brain.  By the time dinner rolls around it’s nearly impossible to talk my brain out of popcorn, wine, and handfuls of chocolate chips.  

Continue reading Kale + Blackberry + Beet + Almond Milk Smoothies at Joy the Baker.

Almond Banana Bread

Simon Bakes

I remember when I was a kid, I used to entice my little sister into the kitchen to cook with me. That sounds sweet and cozy, right? Well… I had slightly more selfish intentions. I had plans for my sister once we hit the kitchen: I would do all the fun stuff like measuring out sugar and chocolate, and she would do all of the not so fun stuff, like getting the flour containers out of the pantry, reaching for bowls, and doing all the dirty dishes. Baking always seemed like more fun if I had someone to do all the grunt work for me.

That sort of fun in the kitchen with my sister didn’t last long. Lauren very quickly caught on to my tricks, and before long we were sharing the dirty dish responsibilities.

Since then, I’d like to think I’ve become a much more accommodating kitchen partner. Ask Simon. You know Simon, he’s that crazy kid fromFoodproof. We made Almond Banana Bread together. It went swimmingly, and I don’t think I made him do the dishes.

Simon Bakes

Simon Bakes

This banana bread was an excuse to accomplish two things: to watch Simon use a spatula and to experiment with Almond Oil. Do you bake with nut oils? I was surprised at how mild, if nonexistent the nut flavor was. We used a bit of oil, and a bit of melted butter. The oil definitely made for a more dense and moist banana bread experience. Tossed together with toasted, coarsely chopped almonds, this nutty banana bread was pretty delicious.


Simon Bakes

Almond Banana Bread

thank you to SmittenKitchen who thanks SimplyRecipes

Print this Recipe!

3 to 4 ripe bananas, smashed
1/3 cup melted salted butter (or in a 1/3 measuring cup measure out half almond oil and half melted butter)
3/4-1 cup light brown sugar, depending on the level of sweetness you prefer
1 egg, beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon bourbon
1 teaspoon baking soda
Pinch of salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
Pinch of ground cloves
1 1/2 cup of flour

3/4 cup coursely chopped almonds

No need for a mixer for this recipe. Preheat the oven to 350°F. With a wooden spoon, mix butter and almond oil into the mashed bananas in a large mixing bowl. Mix in the sugar, egg, vanilla and bourbon, then the spices. Sprinkle the baking soda and salt over the mixture and mix in. Add the flour, mix. Add the almonds, and stir until just incorporated. Pour mixture into a buttered 4×8 inch loaf pan. Bake for 1 hour. Cool on a rack. Remove from pan and slice to serve.

Cranberry Orange Almond Oatmeal

I’m a huge breakfast fanatic.  I usually go for something hearty, healthy and full of surprise goodies.  That’s not to say that I don’t sometimes reach for a donut and some coffee, but this go around I opted for old-fashioned oatmeal with the gorgeous flavors of cranberry, orange and almond.  I threw in a bit of brown sugar for good measure, and surrounded my oatmeal with cold milk.  It was a delightful breakfast- satisfying but not too heavy.  It’s the kind of breakfast that convinces you you’re ready to take on the world.  Brilliant

Cranberry Orange Almond Oatmeal

Print this Recipe!

1 cup water

pinch of salt

1/2 cup old fashioned oats

2 Tablespoons dried cranberries

6 raw or toasted almonds

1/2 teaspoon grated orange zest


1 Tablespoon brown sugar

1/4 cup milk

Bring water and salt to a rolling boil in a small sauce pan.  Add oats and reduce to medium heat and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add 1 Tablespoon of dried cranberries into the cooking oatmeal.

After 5 minutes, remove from heat, and transfer to a serving bowl.  Sprinkle with remaining cranberries, orange zest, almonds, brown sugar and milk.  Enjoy!

Thank you Dawn!  It was so sweet of you to send me these darling cards and pens!  I’ll put them to good use!  They’re absolutely beautiful!  Thank You!!

Gluten-Free Lemon, Almond and Polenta Cake

Gluten-Free Lemon Almond and Polenta Cake

Please allow me this bright and promising Monday morning to keep it one hundred percent real with you.  While this gluten free cake was buttery, nutty, bright with the flavor of lemon and perfectly sweet, the truth is, it ended up all over my floor.  Well… ok, bits on the floor, chunks on the counter, and pieces in my dirty sink.  Basically, this cake landed everywhere except the cake plate where I wanted it.

I salvaged a few if the larger pieces to mock up a pretty picture for you.  For a few moments I thought I might not even tell you about my cake accident.  But… see, my cake didn’t just land on the floor because I’m clumsy, but because I was taking baking liberties that I shouldn’t have.  Fact.

This cake taught me a small lesson about baking pan choices and cooking times.  It also helped me get my cake dropping out of the way for the next several months.  I only drop a cake every three months or so.  I feels good to be free and clear for a few months to come.

Gluten-Free Lemon Almond and Polenta Cake

Gluten-Free Lemon Almond and Polenta Cake

Gluten-Free Lemon Almond and Polenta Cake

Here’s what you should know about this cake.  The crumb is held together with butter, almond flour and eggs.  While the cake is full of great flavor, it’s a bit crumbly.  To best work with the crumb of this cake, I think it would be best baked in mini loaf pans, or mini bundt pans, or those long and skinny loaf pans (6×2 1/2-inches) if you have them.  Cupcakes also worked out well, baking for 20 to 25 minutes, until the edges were nice and brown.  Regular sized, larger loaf pans will most likely create a cake that is sunken in the middle.  Bundt pans.. well that’s how I dropped my cake on the floor… no good.

Gluten-Free Lemon Almond and Polenta Cake

When it comes to baking this beauty, you might be surprised when I say: longer is better.  We’re not looking for a lightly colored American style cake here.  We’re looking for a French brown:  a baked good left to bake until the sides are beautifully dark brown.  I think the longer cooking time will help the crumb stay together better.

I’m thinking my mistakes will help you create a better cake.  Go on… bake away!

Gluten Free Lemon, Almond and Polenta Cake

from Breakfast Lunch Tea, Rose Bakery

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2 1/4 cups unsalted butter, softened plus extra for greasing pans

2 1/4 cups sugar

grated zest of four lemons

juice of 1 lemon

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

6 eggs

5 1/2 cups ground almonds

2 cups polenta

1/2 cup rice or corn flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

powdered sugar for dusting

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.

Butter eight mini bread tins and line the bottoms with parchment paper, or line 3 cupcake pans with foil cupcake liners.

Measure out the sugar and lemon zest.  With the back of a spoon or a plastic bench knife, rub the lemon zest into the sugar, creating a lemony and fragrant sugar.  Beat the butter and sugar until very light and creamy.  Add the lemon juice and the vanilla extract.  Add the eggs, one by one, beating well after each addition.

Mix together the flour, ground almonds, polenta, rice or corn flour, baking powder and salt and fold into the butter mixture.

Spoon the mixture into the prepared tins and bake for 35-40 minutes (20-25 minutes for cupcakes) or until a knife inserted in the center of one of the cakes comes out clean.

Remove from the oven and cool the cakes in their tins before taking them out.

Sift some powdered sugar over the cooled cakes for decoration.

Gluten-Free Lemon Almond and Polenta Cake

Homemade Almond Milk

It’s just an ordinary day, except for the fact that I made milk!  Not the yummy stuff that comes from the cow, but Almond Milk with a touch of honey.  It might just give Old Bessie a run for her money.

Let me tell you a little about me.  I’m part Irish, part African American, and A Little Bit of Hippie.  Today we’re only going to discuss the Hippie in me.  My parents raised me on, what seemed at the time to be, the gnarliest health food on the planet.  I remember sitting down to dinners of Tofu Potato Baker (which I did eventually come to love- thank you ketchup), loads of barely-steamed-mostly-raw broccoli, whole wheat fig bars and fresh squeezed carrot juice.  Granted, I love all that stuff now, but what I would have given for some Chips Ahoy and Kentucky Fried Chicken when I was 5.

I make my family’s dinner habits sound like abuse, don’t I?  That’s probably not fair.  In their choices, my parents instilled in me, what I call, A Little Bit Of Hippie.

As a person with A Little Bit of Hippie in her I am prone to do things like enjoy vegan food on Friday night and throw back a medium rare filet on Saturday night.  I also might ride my bike to work, but only twice a week.  It’s also the Little Bit of Hippie in me that lead me down the granola bar path and inspired me to make these Banana Blackberry Smoothies with Homemade Almond Milk.

I think we all should have at A Little Bit of Hippie in us.  Maybe the the world would be more full of peace, love and Homemade Almond Milk

The milk is SO easy to make.  It tastes light, but full of almondy flavor.  Give it a go!  I love it in smoothies and on granola.

Almond Milk

Print this Recipe!

1.  Place 1 cup toasted almonds in a glass jar, or clean container with a lid.

2.  Cover almond with 4 cups filtered water.

3.  Tightly close the jar or place the lid on the container.

4.  Refrigerate for 1 day, 2 days at the very most.

5.  I know the picture isn’t all that charming, but pour the almonds and water into a blender and blend until relatively smooth.  It will never smooth completely, but blend on and off for about 1 minute and 30 seconds.  (During this step I added 1 Tablespoon Honey to the almond milk.)

6.  Drape a cheesecloth over a medium sized bowl and place a fine mesh strainer on top.  Pour the contents of the blender into the strainer.  Gather all four corners of the cheesecloth and slowly lift and squeeze the liquid from the cloth.

7.  You’re left with almond milk and almond pulp.  Discard the pulp, or think of something extra hippie to do with it.  The milk- drink it.

Banana Blackberry Breakfast Smoothie

In a blender combine:

1 ripe banana

6 blackberries

3/4 cup almond milk

1/2 cup plain yogurt

Raspberry Almond Bread

I never thought I’d hear myself say this, but- enough with the chocolate chip cookies!

I will admit that for one brief moment, I thought about throwing a handful of chocolate chips into this darling quick bread. I slowly released my death grip from the chip bag, and thought better of it.

This quick bread is fuss-free and it has almonds two ways: almond extract and toasted slivered almonds. The almond flavor is actually really subtle, and the gooey raspberry flavor really comes to the front.

This post is also my submission into 28 Cooks’ Behind the Apron– a look into the hearts and minds of elusive food bloggers. I haven’t been so elusive, have I? I kinda let you all up in my business.

Here we are. Behind the apron. No! Not under the apron! Please get out from under there…

That’s me. I look like a hungry maniac. I sometimes eat off the stirring spoons. I started this food blog after seeing a recipe for slice and bake cookies on Smitten Kitchen. I thought- I want to do that! Now!- and Joy the Baker was born. Now I get paid to bake and write about food, and it feels like a good life. Not only that, I’ve met a whole community of people as nutty about food and photography as me.

I feel like I’m just where I’m supposed to be. Thanks for being here with me.

Now, about that bread.

This quick bread recipe originally called for a cup of crushed fresh strawberries. Feel free to throw in some strawberries or blueberries if you’re feeling frisky.

Raspberry Almond Bread

adapted from the best bake sale ever cookbook

Print this Recipe!

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened

1 cup sugar

1/2 teaspoon pure almond extract

2 eggs

2 Tablespoons sour cream

1 cup crushed fresh raspberries or strawberries or blueberries

1/3 cup toasted slivered almonds

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Spray or grease a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.

In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, cream the butter, sugar and almond extract until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Beat in the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Mix in the flour and sour cream. Fold in the crushed fruit and almond slivers.

Spoon the batter into the prepared pan. Bake in the center of the oven for 55 to 60 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean.

Cool the bread in the pan for 20 minutes, then invert onto a wire rack, turn right side up and cool completely.

Lemon Scented Olive Oil Cookies with Almond Glaze

I’ll admit, I think olive oil is sexy.  Extra Virgin Olive Oil especially, sends me over the moon.  The rich, full and nutty smell, the beautiful translucent green color, and the way the taste coats my mouth.  It’s just gorgeous.  I’ve been known to buy a fresh baguette on the way home from work and simply eat warm bread with plates full of olive oil.  I think I’ve also put the stuff in my hair as a conditioner, and on my hands as a lotion.  But that’s sounding like a whole other blog, so let’s not get into that.

Lemon Scented Olive Oil Cookies with Almond Glaze.   Sounds like there’s a lot going on in one humble cookie, right?   It’s amazing how the flavors and sweetness meld together to create a unique, yet strangely familiar taste treat.  These essentially taste like a darling lemon sugar cookie, but with a slight (sexy) hint of olive oil.  I tested these on unsuspecting, but die hard cookie fans, and they couldn’t put their finger on the olive oil without me pointing it out.  The verdict-  two thumbs up.


Not only does olive oil smell gorgeous and taste great, it’s also good for you!  There’s a reason why the Italians are so beautiful, and I think it’s something in the olive oil.  Olive oil has less fat than butter, and has mono-saturated fats which are good for you heart.  It’s a great substitute for butter in these cookies.

I found that the batter for these cookies comes out a little wet, almost like cake batter.  I spooned the batter onto a greased and floured cookie sheet by the tablespoonful, and baked them up.  They turned out just lovely!  Try them, I’d love to hear what you think!

Lemon Scented Olive Oil Cookies with Almond Glaze

Print this Recipe!

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

generous pinch of salt

1 cup sugar

zest of 1 lemon

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 cup good quality olive oil

3/4 cup whole milk

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Zest 1 lemon and rub the zest into the granulated sugar, creating a slightly fragrant sugar.  Whisk together the dry ingredients in a medium sized bowl.  In a small bowl, beat together the eggs, vanilla extract, olive oil and milk.  Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir just to combine.  If the mixture is stiff (I didn’t have this problem,  I thought it might have been too wet) then add a touch more milk.

Drop by tablespoonful onto a lightly oiled cookie sheet and bake for 12 to 15 minutes, or until the edges are lightly browned.  Cool on the cookie sheet for a few minutes, then remove and cool on a wire rack.  When cooled completely, drizzle with almond glaze.

Almond Glaze

1 1/4 cup powdered sugar

splash of pure almond extract (about 1/4 teaspoon)

2 Tablespoons of milk, more as needed to create desired thickness

Combine all ingredients and whisk until smooth.

Raspberry Almond Cupcakes with Chocolate Ganache

Kids between the ages of 3 and 7 are pretty amazing.  They’re little screaming, snotting, jumping, and crashing balls of honesty.  If they don’t like you, you know it.  If they recognize you for the poopoo head that you are, they’re not afraid to tell you- to your face, in ear piercing tones.  They haven’t yet developed the ability to filter their opinion of you.  It’s simultaneously refreshing and completely unsettling.

That’s why, whenever I meet new kids, I come with cupcakes.  Not just cupcakes, but cupcakes with sprinkles.  It works every time.  It’s irresistible.  It’s my dirty little trick.  Walk into their house with cupcakes and a smile on your face, and you’ve got an instant friend.  And when they come and thank you for the cupcake with chocolate all over their face- well, there’s nothing better.

These cupcakes are dinner party perfect.  They’re light and delicate with the flavors of almond and fresh raspberry.  Great for adults and not too overpowering and strange for kids.  The chocolate ganache is not too sweet or heavy and spreads on the cupcake with a beautiful sheen.  Kids absolutely love them, but they’re sophisticated enough to enjoy with coffee long after the kiddies have gone to bed.  Thank you Courtney, Bill and cutie Macallan for a beautiful dinner.

Raspberry Almond Cupcakes

Print this Recipe!

makes 12 cupcakes

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/8 teaspoon salt

5 Tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

1/2 cup sugar

1 large egg

1/4 teaspoon almond extract

1/2 cup whole milk

1/3 cup fresh raspberries, roughly chopped

Put a rack in the middle of the oen and preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Line muffin cups with paper liners.

Sift together flour, baking powder and salt inside a bowl.

Beat together butter and sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer at medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes.  Beat in egg and almond extract.  Reduce speed to low and add flour mixture and milk alternately in 3 batches, beginning and ending with the flour mixture and beating just until incorporated.  Fold in the raspberries.

Divide the batter among lined muffin cups.  Bake until pale golden and a wooden pick inserted in the center of a cupcake comes out clean, about 20 minutes.  Turn cupcakes out onto a rack to cool completely.

Spread frosting on cupcakes once cooled.

Chocolate Ganache

3/4 cup mini semisweet chocolate chips (I used chocolate chunks)

1/4 cup heavy cream

Put chocolate chips in a small bowl.  Bring cream to a simmer in a small heavy saucepan.  Pour cream evenly over chocolate.  Let stand for one minute to soften, then stir until smooth.  If frosting is too loose to spread, let it sit at room temperature for 10 to 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, frosting will continue to thicken as it stands.

Chocolate Coconut Almond Scones


14 of the 1,000,000,000,000,000,000 thoughts going through my brainscape:

–  I’m 30.  I can’t shop at Forever 21.  First of all, I’m a Large…. and the shorts are still waay too tiny.  Secondly, I look much better in Anthropologie clothes.

–  I’m worth it.

–  Yea.  So I just stress-ate a bag of potato chips.  At least I just bought the small bag and not the giant bag… even though the giant bag was on sale.  I’m alright!

–  I wish I had claws so I could scratch my cat back.

–  At least I have scissors to give my cat awkward hair cuts when he’s sleeping.

–  I can’t sing, unless I’m alone and I’m pretending like I’m Adele… and then I still can’t sing.

–  No, sir.  Laundromat flirting is not my thing.  I see you trying to find an ‘in’.  Also… the fact that you’re wearing a bluetooth and that you brought your own wooden hangers to the laundromat makes it clear to me that you’re a serial killer.  I’ve seen CSI.  I’ve seen Dexter.  COME ON!

–  Well, if Hoarders weren’t such a mind-bending show, I wouldn’t have to watch it.  It’s really not my fault.

–  I’ll write that email… but first I’ll eat this cold burrito.

–  I’m looking at you and secretly wondering if you’re an extreme couponer.

–  Can I deep fry cupcakes?  No.

–  Some girls cry when they’re sad.  I cry when I’m bonkers angry.  That must be really creepy to people.  Like… killer creepy.

–  When did girls start wearing fake hair and fake eyelashes!?  Ladies… come on.  Can we all just work on the same playing field?  Geez.  You’re really making my hair look mousy.

–  What kind of scones should I make?  I know… sweet everything bagels…  Everything Scones!  I’m a genius.


Toasted coconut is one of my favorite smells.

I wish my hair could smell like this all the time.


Scones.  Why not just throw in everything!?  By the handful… with buttermilk.

Come on!  This is how we should live everyday.


If you don’t think this looks like a blessing from the heavens… we’re not friends.

If you don’t think this looks like a blessing from the heavens… then you’re not a ninja.  That’s a problem.


Toasty, buttery, and soft.  Studded with almonds, chocolate and coconut.  A mouthful of breakfast goodness!  Add a big dollop of cherry jam and shut.it.up!  The best breakfast everyday.

Chocolate Coconut Almond Scones

makes about 8 to 10 scones

Print this Recipe!

3 cups all-purpose flour

2 tablespoons raw or granulated sugar

3 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

3/4 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, cold and cut into cubes

1 large egg

3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons buttermilk

1/3 cup shredded coconut (sweetened or unsweetened)

1/3 cup slivered almonds

1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

buttermilk and sugar for topping before baking

Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Place shredded coconut and slivered almonds on a baking sheet and toast in the oven for about 8 to 10 minutes.  Keep your eye on the coconut.  It browns quickly.  Remove from the oven when toasted and allow to cool.  Heat oven to 400 degrees F.  Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together flour sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

Toss the cold butter cubes into the flour mixture.  Using your hands, quickly work in the butter into the flour mixture, breaking it up with your fingers.  Some butter bits will be the size of small pebbles, and some will be the size of oat flakes.  Set in the fridge for a few minutes.

Whisk together buttermilk and egg.

Remove the flour and butter mixture from the fridge and add coconut, almonds, and chocolate chips.  Whisk together and create a well in the center of the mixture.  Add the buttermilk mixture all at once to the well.  Use a fork to bring the wet and the dry ingredients together.  Mixture will be shaggy.  Lightly flour a work surface and dump the shaggy dough mixture out onto the counter.  Bring together the dough with your hands into a 1 1/2-inch thick disk .  Use a 2 1/2-inch round biscuit cutter to cut out biscuits.  Flour the biscuit cutter if it starts to stick to the dough.

Place biscuits, about 1 inch apart, on the prepared baking sheets.  Brush with a bit of buttermilk and a few pinches of raw or granulated sugar.  Bake biscuits for 14-18 minutes, until golden brown and cooked through.  Remove from the oven and serve warm, with jam.

Fresh Fig and Almond Breakfast Cake


This skillet cake was divided into four pieces and eaten without apology.  There was coffee:  two cups each.  There were a few dishes in the sink:  no one cared.  There was that dusty morning summer sun. So good! There was that thing I didn’t want to talk about:  how my cellphone landed in the toilet and died rather unceremoniously.  So bad.

Morning cake  makes all the difference.  Forever and always.


The key to this breakfast cakery is the melted butter.

Melted butter means that we don’t have to cream together butter and sugar in a stand mixer.

Not having to cream butter in a stand mixer means that we don’t have to bring out big kitchen gear in the morning.

Not having to pull out big kitchen gear in the morning means that we can enjoy coffee AND eat CAKE!!  Science (not at all).


The top of this cake is adorned with fresh figs.

The inside of this cake is adorned with ground cardamom.  Dreamy!


Wet ingredients + Dry ingredients.  The remix.  (Not really… just the mix.)


Let’s bake this cake in a skillet.  It feels more breakfasty that way, right?

The batter is fluffy and thick… like an edible pillow for fresh figs and sliced almonds.

Don’t act like I’m the only one that thinks about edible pillows.

Dream edible pillow:  Chocolate Chip Brioche.  No big deal.


Fresh figs, face up.  Sliced almonds every which way.  Turbinado sugar too!


This buttermilk skillet cake is a wonder in the oven.  It’s not finicky and precious.  It’s the kind of cake that doesn’t mind being slapped in a cast iron, topped with treats, and thrown in the oven.  It’s the sort of cake you can make at 9am with one eye open.  It’s forgiving… that’s what I’m trying to say.

We’re talking thick and moist.. not too sweet, but fig-topped and delicious.  I love it!

Also… if you wanted to top this cake with sliced peaches or pitted cherries, you’re smart… you totally should!

Fresh Fig and Almond Breakfast Cake

makes 1 10-inch skillet cake

Print this Recipe!

For the Cake:

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom

1/2 cup granulated sugar

2 large eggs

1 1/2 cups buttermilk

1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon pure almond extract

For the Topping:

8- 10 fresh figs (depending on the size), sliced in half

1/2 cup sliced almonds

3 tablespoons turbinado (or granulated) sugar for topping

To make the cake:

Place a rack in the center of the oven and heat oven to 375 degrees F.  Butter and flour a 10-inch cast iron skillet.  You can also use a 10-inch cake pan.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cardamom, and sugar. Set aside.

In a small bowl, whisk together buttermilk, eggs, and butter.  Whisk in the vanilla and almond extract.

Add the buttermilk mixture all at once to the dry ingredients.  Stir until just combined and no lumps remain.  Spoon batter into the prepared pan.  Top batter with fresh figs, gently pressing the figs part-way into the batter.  Sprinkle with sliced almonds and then sprinkle generously with sugar.

Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until a skewer inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.  Allow cake to cool to room temperature before slicing to serve.

Cake will last, well wrapped in the refrigerator, for up to 3 days.