Skip to content

Fresh Fig and Olive Oil Cake

June 30, 2011

Is anyone out there as happy as I am to see fresh figs at the market?  When I spotted them during my last shopping trip, I quickly grabbed a dozen or so without a recipe in mind.  But this is the beauty of figs–they are so versatile.  They pair well with salty charcuterie as appetizers and are especially wonderful preserved.  In fact, one of my major goals this year is to make my own fig jam.  I just need to get over my fear of canning.  Until then, simpler preparations will have to do.  Instead of jam, let’s have some cake to welcome the start of fig season.

During our trip to the South of France last year, one of the prettier vistas to appeal to my foodie sensibilities was the row of fig trees lining a section of the promenade at St. Jean Cap Ferrat.  They stood proudly on the concrete walkway, a narrow divide between the Cote d’Azur and the über luxurious villas that are out of reach for a mere mortal like me.  I can only imagine the beauty within the walls of these villas but at least the blue water welcomed me each day I stepped in it.  As an added bonus, I was able to pick a couple of figs and taste them at their freshest.

This simple cake is humble and unpretentious.  It is the sort you might find served in a small restaurant in a quaint village.  The restaurant owner’s wife or mother might have baked one like it in the morning to serve as the sweet of the day.  I’ve been to places like this and the tarts or cakes sitting on the back counter of the restaurant would always assure me that we’ve selected the right place to dine.  This cake highlights the freshness of the figs with simple ingredients: eggs, butter, olive oil and sugar.  It is moist and not too sweet, complementing the mellow flavor of the delicate fruit.

I’m very selective of recipes that I strongly encourage you to try but this is one of them.  Grab some fresh figs and make this cake soon–you’ll be happy you did.

Fresh Fig Cake

* Adapted from Patricia Wells’ Winemaker’s Grape Cake in At Home in Provence

  • Butter and flour for the cake pan
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/3 cup whole milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • pinch kosher salt
  • Zest of one lemon
  • 10 ounces chopped fresh figs
  1. Preheat your oven to 350°F.
  2. Butter and flour a 9-inch springform pan, making sure to tap out the excess flour.  Set aside.
  3. Using a hand mixer, beat the eggs and sugar in a large bowl until thick and a pale-yellow color, about 3 minutes.  Add the butter, oil, milk, vanilla extract and mix until blended.
  4. In another bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder and salt.  Stir in the lemon zest with a whisk.  Spoon the mixture into the other bowl with the batter and stir with a wooden spoon until thoroughly blended.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl and mix it once again.  Let the mixture rest for 1o minutes to give the flour time to absorb the liquid.
  5. Stir 3/4 of the figs into the batter then transfer to the pan.  Place the pan in the center rack of your oven and bake for 15 minutes.
  6. After 15 minutes, arrange the rest of the figs on top of the cake and bake until the top is a deep golden brown.  This will take another 35 – 40 minutes.
  7. Transfer the pan to a cooling rack and let it rest for 10 minutes.  Then run a knife along the sides of the pan and release.  Leave the cake on the pan base and let cool to room temperature before serving.
35 Comments leave one →
  1. June 30, 2011 11:09 PM

    I made this same cake a month ago and I couldn’t leave it alone. It was so moist and figgy delicious. Thanks for reminding me. 🙂

  2. July 1, 2011 3:11 AM

    Fig season it is! This cake looks exactly as you describe. Humble, beautiful, romantic.

  3. July 1, 2011 5:35 AM

    love it that you’ve used fresh fig pieces in the cake ….i’m yet to try a cake with olive oil in it

  4. July 1, 2011 5:53 AM

    There are three HUGE fig trees at the community garden I volunteer at. I would love to make this cake with the youth I cook with on Fridays! Thanks for sharing!!!

  5. July 1, 2011 6:02 AM

    This looks so good! I want to slather some soft goat cheese on this cake–is that wrong? 🙂

  6. July 1, 2011 6:32 AM

    Hi Jean, I did notice figs this past week! I love the fresh figs in your olive oil cake, so rustic looking- takes me to the south of France and makes me very happy! I love olive oil cakes and I know I would enjoy this recipe, thanks for passing it along and for sharing your lovely photographs. Have a wonderful weekend, will miss you at the French cookie event;-)

  7. July 1, 2011 7:52 AM

    Jean – I too spotted figs during the week and it made me smile from ear to ear. Your cake looks really tasty!!! I am excited since I will be able to make my Balsamic Fig Jam soon. Have a wonderful 4th of July weekend!!! 🙂

  8. July 1, 2011 8:53 AM

    I love fresh figs. Have you ever tried them with goat cheese? Such a good combination. That is really the only way I have ever had them besides plain. I cannot wait to bake with them using your recipe.

  9. July 1, 2011 10:49 AM

    I haven’t seen figs at my market yet. I’m so excited that they are here. I always eat them up fresh before I can make anything with them. I will have to buy 2 containers so I can try this too!

  10. July 1, 2011 11:06 AM

    What a lovely cake, Jean. Can’t resist figs when I see them. They are so pretty and so delicious. Love them simply with yoghurt and honey. But I bet it’s so much better in a cake.

  11. July 1, 2011 11:09 AM

    I hope to see some figs at the market tomorrow so that I can make this cake! I too have a fear of canning, but bought some fig jam at a church fall festival to satisfy that craving. Jean, I am imagining sitting in a small cafe in Provence or along the Cote d’Azur and having a piece of this simple, not-to-sweet cake – aaahhh 🙂 Have a fun 4th of July weekend!

  12. July 1, 2011 11:16 AM

    My figs never make it to cooking, they all get eaten sooner…. your cakes might give me the strength to save some for cooking…

  13. July 1, 2011 5:55 PM

    I just bought a box of figs for $5 today….so will have to make this. This is a fruit of the gods and the cake looks divine.

  14. July 1, 2011 9:00 PM

    This does look beautiful and delicious. I saw fresh figs at the market last week, and I”m going to be sure to buy them tomorrow. Thank you for sharing yet another tasty treat. This was a lovely way to end my week. I hope you have a beautiful weekend and a happy 4th of July!

  15. July 2, 2011 7:13 AM

    I just saw figs at our farmer’s market last week! I make a similar cake but it incorporates raspberries. I definitely want to try your version because it looks more savory. Thanks for the idea!

  16. July 3, 2011 8:03 AM

    My mother has always had a soft spot for figs. I on the other hand, wouldn’t give them a try. Until last year! And now I see why she liked them so much!! I haven’t seen them at our market yet, but I’ve had my eye out. This looks to be a wonderful starter recipe for me, simple and humble is ideal. Maybe I will just have to surprise mom!!

  17. July 3, 2011 4:48 PM

    I could eat fresh figs all day long and never get tired of them, but they don’t take well to Canadian winters… so the ones that show up in our markets tend to be flavourless and watery, rather than succulent and sweet like the ones I’ve had in the Mediterranean. Sigh.
    This cake does look wonderfully tender and moist, though… I wonder if I could adapt it using local fruits like apricots or peaches? I’m sure even a failed experiment would still turn out quite edible. 🙂

  18. July 5, 2011 8:07 AM

    I carefully watching my fig tree so I can get them before the birds. Love how you put them in the cake. I think I might make so jam with them too. We missed you at the mac class, but I’m sure you had an amazing time.

  19. July 5, 2011 3:55 PM

    I cannot believe I am so late on this, Jean! I have a tray of figs and been thinking of baking with them. However, I’ve been eating it, so there may not be any left to cook with ;-)!

  20. July 6, 2011 12:29 AM

    Hi Jean, I am not a fig fan but the fig cake looks delicious. I love the closeup picture of the two figs.

  21. July 6, 2011 1:20 PM

    Jean, this cake sure won my heart. I love fresh figs, and can’t wait to see them at the market.
    The photo of the two figs is simply amazing 🙂

  22. July 7, 2011 8:40 AM

    I have not seen figs yet, but I’ll start looking. Summer fruit is the best. GREG

  23. July 8, 2011 11:36 AM

    I have a lot of recipes that use fresh figs… I am going to add your recipe to my repertoire. I would love to try this cake … it’s beautiful!!

  24. July 8, 2011 2:50 PM

    Those fig trees sound so lovely! And what a beautiful cake! I just came home from Whole Foods with a beautiful basket of figs. The bebe and I are the only ones that like figs in our family and we are happy to have them all to ourselves. I’m certain I would enjoy this cake – wish you could have sent me a slice – LOL. I wish I could motivate myself to bake more often but lately I’ve been shirking my cooking responsibilities which puts baking even further back on my things to do list! 🙂

  25. July 8, 2011 5:15 PM

    The figs in France are amazing aren’t they? So ripe they drip with sugar sometimes! I can’t wait to go back and have some.

  26. July 9, 2011 3:05 AM

    Ooh, you’re so lucky to have the fresh figs arriving already. This cake looks wonderful and intrigued with the addition of olive oil. It sounds fabulous. Can’t wait now to see them appear!

  27. July 11, 2011 2:39 AM

    Many thanks for this idea, look delicious!!! I hope to taste’it in my cucina :)))

  28. July 16, 2011 11:32 AM

    I am not a huge fan of figs, mainly because the way I have had them in the passed. This cake looks moist and delicious!

  29. July 18, 2011 12:14 PM

    Looks wonderful. I’m always looking for new recipes for fresh figs.

  30. July 22, 2011 2:09 PM

    A super moist lemon cake is my all-time weakness, but this cake could actually replace that prized #1 slot.

  31. September 23, 2011 3:59 PM

    This looks amazing and I am totally trying it soon! Figs are in season and olive oil is abundant here in Spain!!! Beautiful blog.

  32. Helen Cottreau permalink
    September 27, 2011 8:40 AM

    I just scored some this morning at my local market and almost ran home with them. They are rarely found here in Prince Edward Island Canada…not sure why but I presume that they don’t travel well. I have just popped your cake in the oven and am tempted to run out and purchase more. Do you think this cake would freeze well?

  33. February 14, 2012 7:50 PM

    i made this a few weeks ago and it was delicious! thanks for sharing xx


  1. Picking figs, and living to tell the tale | Rufus' Food and Spirits Guide

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: