We focus in our recipe on the simple but luscious combination of figs and spice, a straightforward pairing worthy on its own of Okracoke's passion.


  • 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 cup fig preserves
  • 1 cup chopped ripe fresh figs or more fig preserves
  • 1 cup chopped pecans, toasted
  • Confectioner's sugar


Preheat the oven to 350: F. Grease and flour a 10-inch Bundt cake pan. Sift together into a medium bowl the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves. Combine the buttermilk and vanilla in a small bowl. With an electric mixer on high speed, beat together the eggs, sugar, and oil, until pale yellow and forming ribbons, about 3 minutes. Reduce the mixer speed to medium, then beat in the buttermilk mixture just until combined. Add in the flour mixture by thirds, stopping as needed to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Mix after each addition just until combined. By hand, stir in the fig preserves, figs, and pecans. Spoon into the prepared pan. Bake on the oven's middle rack for about 45 minutes, until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Cool the cake in the pan for about 10 minutes. Then run a knife around the edges, invert it, and remove from the pan. Finish cooling, top-side up, on a baking rack. When cool, dust the whole cake, or individual slices, with confectioner's sugar sprinkled through a fine sieve. Serve.

from American Home Cooking, copyright Cheryl Alters Jamison and Bill Jamison, 1999, from Broadway Books Connected to the rest of the country only by ferries, Okracoke Island on North Carolina's Outer Banks remains a serene refuge from the hubbub of contemporary life-unless you make the mistake of trying to tell a local cook how to make fig cake, which can stir up a sandstorm as furious as an LA freeway. Residents insist on the importance of figs from their own trees, of course, and some favor double layers and a cream cheese frosting, all of which we ignore but never dispute out loud on a moving ferry. Serves 8 or more

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Submitted 6/13/05.
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Submitted By: Marlen
Okracoke Fig Cake