Ocracoke Island Fig Cake

Course: Cake, Dessert, Summer Dessert
Cuisine: American, Sweet
Prep Time: 40 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Cooling time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 2 hours 10 minutes
Servings: 10 generous slices
Calories: 570kcal
Author: Nancy Mock
Inspired by the traditional cake of the Outer Banks, this moist fig cake is a delicious breakfast or dessert treat!
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  • 1-1/2 cups finely chopped dried figs, pitted & stems removed (use about 8 ounces of whole dried figs to yield 1-1/2 cups of chopped figs)
  • 2 cups granulated sugar, divided
  • 2 slices of lemon
  • 2/3 cup water
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour, unbleached
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1-1/4 teaspoons baking soda, divided
  • 1 cup buttermilk, divided
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla


Make the quicky fig jam:

  • Place the chopped figs in a medium-sized saucepan and stir them together with 1/2 cup of the sugar, the lemon slices and the 2/3 cup of water. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Reduce the heat to medium-low.
  • Cover and simmer the mixture for about 10 minutes until it is thickened, stirring it often to prevent the figs from sticking to the bottom. Remove the pan from heat and discard the lemon slices. Pour the contents into a heatproof bowl and allow the jam to cool. This will make about 1-1/2 cups (13 ounces) of quicky fig jam.

Make the cake batter:

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour a 10″ tube or Bundt pan.
  • Beat the eggs in a stand mixer until they're frothy and light yellow. Add in 1 cup of the granulated sugar and the oil. Mix until everything is combined.
  • Mix together in a separate bowl the flour, nutmeg, allspice, cinnamon, salt, black pepper and 1 teaspoon of the baking soda. Add the dry mix to the egg mixture in two or three additions, alternating with 1/2 cup of the buttermilk. Mix just until the ingredients are combined.
  • Slowly mix the quicky fig jam into the batter. (If you're using walnuts, add them now.) Pour the batter into the prepared pan and spread it into an even layer.
  • Bake the cake for 50-60 minutes until a tester inserted in the cake comes out clean. Remove the pan to a cooling rack for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the glaze:

  • Combine the remaining buttermilk, the remaining 1/2 cup of sugar, melted butter, corn starch and the remaining baking soda in a medium-sized saucepan. Bring it to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly. Once it comes to a boil, immediately remove the pan from heat and keep stirring. It will be foamy and will escape the pan if not stirred! Stir in the vanilla and then let the glaze sit to wait for the cake.

Finish the cake:

  • Have a serving platter ready for the cake: the platter should have enough room and high-enough edges to hold excess glaze.
  • After the cake has cooled for 15 minutes, run a knife around the edges to loosen it from the pan. Invert the pan onto the serving platter and gently remove the pan from the cake.
  • Pour the warm glaze evenly over the top of the still-warm cake.
  • Allow the cake to cool for another 10-15 minutes. Then slice it and serve!
  • Makes 10 generous slices


  • In traditional fig cakes you may see the recipe call for fig preserves. In this recipe the quicky fig jam takes the place of those preserves. Because the jam is made fresh by you it's very moist which is perfect for this cake.
  • If you'd rather, you can use store-bought or your own fig jam/preserves. Use 1-1/2 cups of jam/preserves in the recipe, and skip the quicky fig jam directions. 
  • Traditional fig cakes may also call for walnuts. We have no walnut fans in our house so I don't use them. If you are a walnut fan, you can add a 1/2 cup of chopped walnuts to the batter before baking.
  • This recipe has not been tested with fresh figs, so plan on using dried figs. Fresh figs have more moisture than dried so the quicky fig jam would not cook up the same way with fresh - and the final cake would be affected.


Serving: 1slice | Calories: 570kcal | Carbohydrates: 73.7g | Protein: 6g | Fat: 29.7g | Saturated Fat: 7g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 14.9g | Monounsaturated Fat: 0.6g | Cholesterol: 70.5mg | Sodium: 459.5mg | Potassium: 184.3mg | Fiber: 3.2g | Sugar: 52.3g | Vitamin A: 230IU | Vitamin C: 1.6mg | Calcium: 51mg | Iron: 0.8mg
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