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Fig Cake For My Mom

October 7, 2011

Fig Cake

I’m sure we’ve all noticed that traffic is back to sucking again. Driving in Los Angeles during rush hour is the worst thing of my daily work routine, next to retrieving voice mails that are 3 minutes long. When my commute to work transitions from 1 hour and 15 minutes to 1 hour and 45 minutes, it means that school is back in session and fall is here before you know it. I dream of one day only commuting for under 30 minutes or using a well-designed public transportation system that can take me to work and back. That dream might take years to happen granted I live in Southern California (sigh).

Fig Cake For My Mom

As a warm welcome to fall, I made this very simple yet visually stimulating Fig Cake. Making this cake wasn’t only a kitchen homage to baking fall-inspired dishes but it was also a celebration cake for my mom who triumphantly went through two surgical operations in the last few months and kicked whatever tumor, lump, ball, or marble growing in her body to the curb. Yeah mother!

When we got the news that my mama had to do another surgery after her last one in May/June, I thought to myself, “what did they see this time that requires sharp scissors and anesthesia?” But in the back of my head, I am grateful that my mom’s doctor is so keen in applying all preventive measures to really make sure she’s cancer-free. There I said it, like Laura Linney’s character, Cathy, on The Big C would… no qualms about saying the C word out loud. In all seriousness, the entire universe was on our side and we are truly indebted that my mom is healthy and strong as can be.

Bowl Of Figs

Fresh Fig Slices

So this Fig Cake was for my mom congratulating her on a victorious journey. It’s quite easy to make but the results are scrumptious tender cake slices topped with ripe poached figs. This recipe is from Dorie Greenspan’s Baking: From My Home To Yours which I so love. Filled with great recipes and interesting back stories for almost every recipe… such a fun read. Dorie is such an icon to me. An impressive baker and an accomplished food writer. What I love about her is she’s very relatable. Someone you want to spend an entire day in the kitchen. She’s successful and yet she plays her success with humility and grace.

Fig Cake

This cake screams Dorie in my opinion… no-fuss, simple, elegant, satisfying. The one itty-bitty change I did to her recipe is substituting the ruby port with rum as poaching liquid for the figs. I like port and I know how it perfectly goes well with desserts but when I made this, I was more in the mood for rum. Not only do I like rum on certain desserts (i.e. rum-soaked plump raisins for my banana bread or a boozy baba-au-rhum), I also like rum as my liquid strength (wink wink) in special occasions. Rum and Diet Coke is one of my go-to cocktails when I just want to sip something tasty and not get blitzed. =)

I also added more lemon slices to the poaching liquid and I did not cook the liquid until it got significantly reduced – to drizzle as sauce on the side of the cake. I just didn’t want the cake to be overpowered with booziness and sweetness. Instead of the sauce, I went for a heaping scoop of good vanilla ice cream and I was good to go. My mother, however, wanted more figs.

Fresh Figs

Fig Cake

Adapted from Dorie Greenspan’s Baking From My Home To Yours. Makes one 9-inch cake.


1/2 cup dark rum

1 cup honey, separated into two 1/2 cups

Lemon slices from 1/2 lemon

Fresh figs, about 18 to 20, stemmed and halved

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 cup yellow cornmeal

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup sugar

Grated zest from 1/2 lemon

1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter cut into small pieces, room temperature

3 large eggs, room temperature

1 teaspoon vanilla extract


1. In a medium saucepan, combine the rum, 1/2 cup honey, lemon slices, and 1/4 cup of water until combined. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium heat. Once boiled, lower the heat and add the fresh figs. Cook for 5 to 8 minutes, covered, or until the figs are soft and tender but not falling apart. Drain the figs and transfer to a bowl to slightly cool.

2. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9-inch springform pan with butter or baking spray. Line the pan with parchment paper and grease again then dust with flour, tapping out the excess.

3. Whisk the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl. Put the sugar and lemon zest in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and mix for a minute or two to extract the oils from the zest. Add the butter and beat on medium speed until creamed, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating for 1 minute for each addition. Mix in the remaining 1/2 cup of honey and vanilla and beat for another minute or two.

4. With the mixer on low, add the dry ingredients until just combined. Do not overmix. Scrape the thick batter into the pan and spread evenly using a spatula. Scatter the cooled poached figs on top.

5. Place the pan on top of a baking sheet and bake for 55 minutes or until the cake is springy and golden brown. Use a toothpick to insert in the middle of the cake and if it comes out clean, the cake is done.

6. Let the cake cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Run a paring knife or a small offset spatula around the cake before releasing the sides of the pan. Cool completely. Serve with good vanilla ice cream. Cake keeps at room temperature for 2-3 days covered.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. November 3, 2011 7:22 am

    Yay for your sweet mom and yay for cake! Thank you for sharing another delicious and tempting treat with me. It was a nice way to begin my morning…now if only I could bake all day and not go to work. Many blessings and hopes for a beautiful week!

    • November 14, 2011 10:55 pm

      Thanks sweetie! Hope you are feeling better lately. Thinking of you always.

  2. February 21, 2012 12:44 pm

    Yummy yummy yummy! Just looking at the pictures makes me drool! 😛


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