Sunday, April 5, 2009

Frances O'Neal's Fig Cake

Frances O'Neal's fig cake

In this month's Gourmet, they had a feature on the Outer Banks in North Carolina. I've never been and never really thought anything of the place (although those "OBX" stickers on the backs of cars are irritatingly ubiquitous). Apparently they have good food, though, lots of seafood, hush puppies and barbecue. I now somewhat want to visit, if only to eat Hatteras clam chowder. Fig trees are also, apparently, plentiful in Outer Banks, so they featured this fig cake recipe from the Back Porch Restaurant and Wine Bar on Ocracoke Island. There, it's served as a layer cake with cream chese icing. Gourmet turned it into a bundt cake, more like a spice cake with little bits of fig and nuts, a good cake for the fall season, I think. But definitely tasty and worth the effort. Next time I might try with cream cheese frosting, though, because that would definitely be yummy.


A note on finding preserved figs: You want a jar of figs in water or syrup, not dried. I found them at Whole Foods. The mag also recommends buying from the Ocracoke Community Store ( or Lee Bros. Broiled Peanuts Catalog.

Eat Rating: Delicious, although I think it would be better for fall rather than spring because of all the spices evoke apple and pumpkin pie to me.
Difficulty: Easy-to-medium

Adapted from Gourmet Magazine, April 2009

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp clove
1/2 tsp nutmeg
3 large eggs
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup buttermilk, well-shaken
1 tsp baking soda
1 tbsp warm water
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup preserved figs in syrup, drained and chopped
1 cups walnuts or pecans, chopped

Preheat oven to 35o degrees and generously grease a bundt pan. I mean generously grease. Otherwise your cake will stick (mine did a little on one side). Combine flour, salt and spices in a medium sized bowl. Mix well.

Beat eggs in a large bowl with an electric mixer (or Kitchenaid) for 2 minutes until the eggs are foamy. Add sugar and beat 2 more minutes. Add oil and beat one additional minute. Your mixture should be a pale yellow. At low speed, add flour, alternating with buttermilk until both are fully combined.

In a small bowl, mix baking soda and warm water. Stir into cake batter, along with vanilla, fig chunks and nuts.

Pour into pan and bake about 50 minutes to 1 hour. Cool completely in pan, about 2 hours. Garnish with powdered sugar, if desired, and serve with a generous dollop of whipped cream.

See, I meant generous...


  1. Hi Leah, it's Beth. I made a food blog! The address is, and you've already gotten a shoutout :) Hope you're doing well, and that we talk soon.

  2. I like your fancy swirly bundt pan.