Truly a southern delicacy, fig trees are grown in many backyards and are looked forward to with much anticipation every season. Because their season is so short, fig lovers rush to collect them every year, then put them up in a variety of ways from Southern Fig Jam, to drying them, or baking them in this luscious cake.
I am very lucky my best foodie friend forever, Lynn, at Southern With a Twist has a fig tree and generously gives me several gallon bags of figs from her tree every year! In exchange, I give her fresh corn and tomatoes from the farmers market, or sweet cherries when they are in season. It's a win-win for both of us.
Did you know? The fig tree is a member of mulberry family. The health benefits of figs come from the presence of minerals, vitamins and fiber contained in the fruit. Figs contain a wealth of beneficial nutrients, including vitamin A, vitamin B1, vitamin B2, calcium, iron, phosphorus, manganese, sodium, potassium and chlorine.
Figs can trace their history back to the earliest of times with mentions in the Bible and other ancient writings. They are thought to have been first cultivated in Egypt. They spread to ancient Crete and then subsequently, around the 9th century BC, to ancient Greece, where they became a staple foodstuff in the traditional diet. Figs were held in such esteem by the Greeks that they created laws forbidding the export of the best quality figs. Figs were also revered in ancient Rome where they were thought of as a sacred fruit. According to Roman myth, the wolf that nurtured the twin founders of Rome, Romulus and Remus, rested under a fig tree. During this period of history, at least 29 varieties of figs were already known.
Enjoying the flavor of a freshly picked fig in the shade of the tree's canopy is a truly Southern tradition. Thomas Jefferson claimed in his retirement to want only to sit beneath a fig tree with his books and watch the days pass by. Luckily, he did a lot more than this. Jefferson not only spread the popularity of the fig from Europe but also expanded the area where the tree is grown.
This Fresh Fig Spice Cake is rich, dense, very moist and sinfully delicious.
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup oil
1 1/2 cups fresh figs, stemmed and mashed
2 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. allspice
1 tsp. cloves
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 cup milk
1 cup pecans, chopped
1 cup brown sugar, light or dark
1/4 cup cream
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
Combine all ingredients in a saucepan; bring to a boil and simmer 2-1/2 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and let cool 5 minutes, beating well afterward.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Stem, chop and mash fresh figs. In a large mixing bowl, beat sugar and oil until fluffy. Add eggs, mashed figs, spices and baking soda; blend well. Add flour alternately with milk, mixing well. Stir in pecans.
Grease and flour a Bundt pan and pour batter evenly into pan. Bake 1 hour or until toothpick inserted in middle of cake comes out clean.
Remove cake from oven and let cool 10 minutes in pan. Turn cake out onto cooling rack and let it cool completely.
Prepare glaze (above) and spoon carefully over top of cake letting it drip down sides.
Yield: 1 Bundt cake (approx. 12-16 slices)
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