“Figs are restorative. They increase the strength of young people, preserve the elderly in better health and make them look younger with fewer wrinkles” Pliny(52-113 AD)
In the background of this photo showing the cannon firing at Ft. Pulaski is one of the largest fig trees that I have ever seen. A few weeks ago while visiting there with my family, I noticed that the tree was loaded with unripe figs. The lady in the gift shop told me they would be ripe for picking around the end of June and were free to anyone who wanted to pick them. To celebrate our nation’s 236th birthday this 4th of July, Ft. Pulaski had several special events scheduled so it was a perfect time to go again, not only to view the special events, but to pick the ripe figs!
It took eight cups of figs to make the fig preserves, but alas, the preserves, although tasting wonderful, lacked the thick syrupy quality I had expected. Not to worry, they were perfect to make the Fig Preserve and Toasted Walnut Cake. I’ll try the preserves again today with the figs I picked yesterday from Ft. Pulaski. Pickings were slim, so it looks like the extreme heat has decimated the crop.
Very festive and easy to make, this crumbly cake loaded with bits of fig preserves and toasted walnuts is topped with a spiced rum hard sauce. Perfect to serve during the winter holiday season, especially for those who aren’t fond of the taste or expense of fruitcake.
Fig Preserve and Toasted Walnut Cake
Ingredients for the Cake
- 2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for flouring the pan
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1 cup (8 ounces) unsalted butter, plus more for greasing the pan
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 3/4 cup light brown sugar
- 3 eggs, lightly beaten
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 1 cup Fig Preserves with syrup, homemade or purchased
- 1 cup chopped walnuts, toasted
Ingredients for the Hard Sauce
- 1/2 cup (4 ounces) unsalted butter
- 1 cup sifted confectioners’ sugar
- 2 tablespoons dark Caribbean rum, such as Myer’s Spiced Rum
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon and nutmeg. Grease and flour a 2-quart Bundt pan. Preheat oven to 350 F.
- In a large bowl, beat the 1 cup of better with an electric mixer until creamy, about 30 seconds. Add the sugars and beat until the mixture is fluffy and light, about 1 minute. Add the eggs, one at a time and beat until thoroughly incorporated.
- With a wooden spoon or spatula, fold in flour mixture in thirds to the butter and egg mixture, alternating with 2 additions of 1/2 cup buttermilk, 1/2 cup fig preserves, and 1/2 cup toasted walnuts. The batter should be pourable; add more buttermilk, if necessary.
- Pour the batter in the prepared Bundt pan and bake on a middle rack until a cake tester comes clean, about 50 minutes, but could take 10-15 minutes more.
- While the cake is baking, prepare the Hard Sauce. In a large bowl, beat the 1/2 cup butter with an electric mixer until creamy, about 30 seconds. Add the confectioners’ sugar and rum and beat until smooth and fluffy. With a wooden spoon or spatula, turn mixture onto a plate and form into a log. Refrigerate until 10 minutes before serving.
- Remove cake from oven and place on a cooling rack for 20 minutes, then with a thin paring knife, loosen cake around edges and invert the cake on a plate.
- To serve, place a slice of warm cake on a plate and top with a pat of slightly chilled hard sauce. If making the cake ahead of time, store the cooled cake beneath a cake cover for up to 24 hours, reheat, covered in aluminum foil, in a 225-degree oven for 15 minutes before serving. If storing for longer than 24 hours, transfer cake to a plate, cover with plastic wrap and store in refrigerator for up to 3 days. Remove from refrigerator 1 hour or more to take the chill off before storing.
- Note- I warmed individual slices in the microwave for a few seconds, then topped the slice with a pat of slightly chilled hard sauce. Serves 8. Recipe adapted from The Lee Brothers Southern Cookbook.
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