Strange things can happen! I was never a big fan of fresh figs while growing up and my dislike for dried figs was even more severe. However, now I find myself stuck with an intense love for the fruit, so much so that I planted a fig tree in my garden this past spring with the hope that I might have my own personal supply. Folks, as luck would have it, I have no figs yet but the tree is growing taller and taller. Thankfully, I have found other places that will satisfy my fig cravings. The farmer’s markets and on occasion some of the little farm stores we run into when we drive out into the country.
Instead of opting for a destination vacation for our Labor Day weekend, we decided to stay in and spend one day out in the country. The rest of the weekend I devoted to finishing up a couple of home projects which included making a console table and some floating shelves. We planned a picnic with our neighbors, Krysta and Travis and drove out to Little Washington in Virginia. Krysta packed up a delicious picnic for us and we made our way through a couple of vineyards, a whiskey distillery, and several antique stores. Yes, you have to squeeze in the shopping whenever you can!
The weather was just right (even at 90F) and even with the high humidity, we still had winds that kept us relatively cool. Most of the vineyard owners are friendly and will let you walk around the vines and explore. As you might have noticed, this is an image heavy post but I wanted to share some of the sights from our trip.
My inspiration for this cake came from a few of the different things we sampled on our picnic, Krysta’s figs and the whiskey tasting from the Copper Fox distillery. For some reason, the thought of figs and whiskey sounded deliciously decadent and indeed it is so! The baked figs and whiskey get a rich honey like flavor that melts in your mouth. Since figs are expensive (at least here in our area), I used fig preserves that are rich and packed with a concentrated amount of figs and flavor.
This cake is soft, moist, and buttery. I put the sliced figs about 20 minutes into baking the cake so that they don’t burn and get bitter. This worked out perfect and the little amount of brown sugar on the surface helps to develop a sweet brown crust. The whiskey adds a gentle flavor to the cake and the figs become even “figgier”! Since the amount of alcohol is pretty small and as the cake is baked, I found no traces of any alcohol while eating the cake, the whiskey simply dehydrates the figs a little and helps in their caramelization during baking but it also gives a much more flavorful taste to the cake.
This cake will last for a couple of days outside but if refrigerated it should last for a little more than a week. A good quality honey bourbon will do wonders for the cake but any other whiskey should be equally good with the figs.
whiskey-kissed brown turkey fig cake
6 fresh ripe figs (brown turkey figs or any other kind you can find)
50ml honey bourbon whiskey or any other whiskey
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 sticks unsalted butter
2 cups of a good quality fig butter/preserves (I used the Trader Joe’s brand of fig butter-it is rich and dark and not overly spiced)
4 large eggs
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup golden raisins
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1. Preheat the oven to 350F.
2. Cut the stems of the figs and slice them lengthwise. Add the figs to the whiskey and let them sit for 30 minutes at room temperature.
3. Sift the flour and salt twice and keep aside.
4. In a thick-bottomed saucepan, melt the butter and the preserves on a medium flame. Stir constantly till the butter and preserves are combined and smooth. Remove from heat and keep aside.
5. Break the eggs into a large mixing bowl, add the sugar and with an electric mixer cream the eggs and sugar till they expand to four times its original volume. The goal here is to beat as much air as you can into the cake batter and this should take about 15 minutes if you use the high speed setting of an electric mixer. Pour half of the melted butter-fig mixture into the whisked eggs and sugar. Drain the whiskey from the sliced figs and pour it into the batter. For now, keep the sliced figs aside. Fold the batter gently with a spatula and then add the rest of the butter-fig liquid and combine gently. Do not over-fold the batter because you will lose the air that you have carefully whisked in. Fold in the raisins.
6. Take an ungreased rectangular baking dish (12 X 10 inches) and pour the batter into the dish. Bake the cake in the preheated oven. The cake will begin to rise and brown as it bakes. After 20 minutes during the baking stage, open the door of the oven and carefully add the sliced figs across the surface of the cake (I like to space them out equally so I can later cut slices each having a fig on top). Sprinkle the brown sugar on the surface. Be quick and don’t let the cake stay out for more than 2 to 3 minutes. Put the cake back into the oven and bake the cake till the crust is golden brown and the center of the cake is cooked. This will take another 20 minutes (A knife should come out clean from the center of the cake). Remove the baked cake and allow to cool to room temperature in the pan, before you serve.
Disclaimer: I did not receive any financial compensation for the fig preserves from Trader Joes. All my opinions listed here are my own.