When I think of figs, I think of Teva-wearing hippies in Berkeley sitting in trees eating dried figs from the bulk bins of the co-op. And that’s cool. Real cool. I love the restaurants in Berkeley and the food co-ops are even better. Anyone else having a co-dependent relationship with the daily pizza menu at The Cheese Board Collective? No? Just me? Ok. Sometimes figs make me think of the ritzy San Francisco restaurants that serve them all alone on a plate and fawn over each fruit like it belongs to the royal family.
But really, y’all, figs are a low-country Texas thing. They are not hifalutin like they have been made out to be recently. The Spanish brought the root stalks with them to Texas during their missionary efforts. Fig trees can be grown generally anywhere in the state with proper care.
This cake uses whole dried Mission figs. Make sure they are moist and plump, not dry and leathery. You can use any variety of honey you like for the honey-laced cream cheese frosting. My favorites lately are orange blossom and buckwheat honey.
Makes 1 small 6" cake
For the cake:
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperaturee
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup no-sugar-added applesauce
1/4 cup canola oil
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon orange zest
1 large egg
3/4 cup flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon allspice
5 whole dried Mission figs, chopped
For the frosting:
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 1/2 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon (heaping) orange blossom honey
Grease a 6-inch round cake pan with oil or shortening. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
In a medium bowl, beat together with an electric mixer the butter, brown sugar and apple sauce. Add the canola oil, vanilla and orange zest and continue beating until very well combined. Add the egg and beat til combined.
In a small bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and allspice. Add the chopped figs to this mixture and stir to coat them with flour. Pour half of this mixture over the wet ingredients and fold it in with a spatula. Add the remaining flour mixture and fold it in until well combined.
Pour the batter into the cake pan and bake 24-28 minutes, until a skewer inserted the center comes clean, but do not overbake the cake or it will dry out. Let cool on a wire rack, then tip it out of the cake pan and let it cool completely.
In a small bowl, beat together all frosting ingredients until smooth and creamy. Add more honey to taste, if you like.
Frost the cake and garnish with extra dried figs.
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Christina Lane is the author of 3 cookbooks all about cooking and baking for two. She has scaled down hundreds of recipes into smaller servings so you can enjoy your favorite dishes without the leftovers! Valentine's Day is her favorite holiday.