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Spicy Fig Cake

Spicy Fig Cake

Makes one 9-inch loaf

I’m convinced that people who bristle at fruitcake have never had a good one. This recipe will change their minds. Moist and soft, this is the antithesis of those dense bricks that modern mythology has us passing annually from family to family like a hot potato. I particularly love the meaty pieces of dried figs, the seeds of which give this cake a bit of crunch.

  • 10 ounces dried figs
  • 1 cup ginger liqueur or brandy
  • ½ cup unsalted butter, softened
  • ¼ cup packed light brown sugar
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 vanilla bean
  • ¼ cup sour cream
  • 3 tablespoons orange marmalade or apricot jam
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Zest of 1 orange, finely grated
  • 2 teaspoons peeled and grated fresh ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • ½ teaspoon ground allspice
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 1/8 cups cake flour
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting

Soak the dried figs in the ginger liqueur overnight, covered.

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter the loaf pan. Drain the figs, reserving the liqueur, and dice the figs.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter and the sugars together on medium-high speed until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula. With the mixer on medium speed, add the eggs one at a time until incorporated. Scrape down the bowl once more.

Slice the vanilla bean in half lengthwise. Using a small knife, scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean into the batter. Add the sour cream, marmalade, honey, vanilla, zest, fresh and ground ginger, allspice, and cloves and mix well. Scrape down the bowl.

With the mixer on low speed, mix in the cake flour and salt until just incorporated. Scrape down the bowl, and fold in the drained figs.

Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan. Rap the pan firmly against the counter to remove any air bubbles. Bake the loaf for 40 to 45 minutes, until the surface cracks and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Using the tines of a fork, prick the top of the cake all over. Pour the reserved liqueur from the dried figs over the top, letting it seep into the cake.

Let the cake cool completely. Flip the pan over to release the cake. Trim the cake with a serrated knife, removing the domed top and shaving the sides and bottom to create a block with squared edges. Slice the block into ½-inch-thick slices and cut each slice into thirds for petit-four-size pieces. Dust them with confectioners’ sugar and serve.

This cake can also be served simply cut into slices. It needs nothing more than a dollop of fresh whipped cream and a cup of tea.

Wrapped tightly in plastic wrap, this cake will keep for up to 3 days. Wrapped in multiple layers of plastic wrap and stored in the freezer, it will keep for up to 3 months.