Every year, I risk my life (or maybe just my bones!) climbing on a tall ladder trying to make sure that I pick every single fig on my fig tree! In South Louisiana, figs begin to ripen in early to mid July, when temps are peaking! So there I am – on the top step of that ladder, with my head hidden by the thick leaves on the tree, sweating, swatting mosquitoes with one hand and reaching as far as my other arm can go…for that full bucket of ripe figs. I keep telling my kids that if I don’t answer my phone during fig season, come looking for me…(would be a terrible way to lose your moma!) But, crazy as it sounds, I love every moment – just me and my figs!
When I was growing up, it was an annual ritual – helping my mother and grandmother pick figs. Of course, we could climb the tree back then! And we were taught well…not to leave one ripe fig hanging. Yes, we were on a mission! Some things just stick…the joy of fig and pecan picking are two that just won’t leave me alone!
After you have a couple of gallons of figs (eating a whole lot of them fresh right off of the tree) you do what all “fig pickers” do…you cook them down with a lot of sugar, can them, give some away, then put countless jars in your pantry. You start out eating them with everything: on french bread, biscuits, plain white bread and even ice cream. Then, the thrill wears off and they just sit in your pantry. Just a warning…Fig pickers tend to be hoarders with their beautiful jars of canned figs! When my grandmother died, we found closets full of jars from years past…the problem is, you can’t seem to stop the cycle of picking those darn wonderful fresh figs every year even if your closet is full!
So, my goal has become to use them in as many different ways as possible. There are pork loins to be stuffed, sauces to be made, cheeses to be topped, cookies and pies to be baked and my favorite…Moma’s Fig Cake!
When the fall comes around, that is when I start craving the cinnamon and spices of the season…and remember moma’s wonderful fig cake…
1/2 cup “real” butter
1 cup of sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups of all-purpose flour
1 tsp soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
1 cup cultured buttermilk (do not use the low fat or non-fat!)
2 cups fig preserves (if your figs are canned whole, cut them up)
1 cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup coconut
1 cup raisins
Now to the fun part:
Combine butter and sugar and cream together with mixer on high-speed until it is fluffy;
Add eggs, beating well
Blend in the vanilla
In a separate bowl, combine the flour, soda, cinnamon and nutmeg
Start adding your flour mixture (on a low setting of your mixer), a little at a time, alternating with the buttermilk. Mix until the flour and buttermilk are integrated and blended well.
Slowly add the figs, pecans, coconut and raisins.
Pour batter into a well-greased and floured bundt pan.
Bake for 1 hour at 350 degrees or until a straw or toothpick come out clean when poked in the middle of the cake.
Let cool completely, then sprinkle generously with powdered sugar!
This cake comes out so moist with the surprise crunch of the pecans and chewiness of the soft sweet raisins. The coconut just adds that little “lagnappe” that we are always looking for!
This cake has worked for generations and is still working for us today…didn’t last long in my house – only traces left of this fabulous Fall Fig Cake!