Recipe: Frosted fig torte

Frosted fig torte. All photos: Moriah VanVleet

The fig trees in my neighborhood are bursting again. I love that they soothingly emerge and flaunt their succulence while the days are growing shorter and we’ve just bid farewell to summer’s treasured stone fruit. As a salute to this special season, I came up with a simple, rustic recipe that parades both fall and figs in every bite.

I started by drizzling ripe figs with warm molasses, then blended them with butter and spice — all headed for a batter made with more fruit than flour. The result is a moist, flavorful torte that’s been enjoyed by both fig-lovers and the fig-averse alike, all with a slather of decadent cream cheese topping.

With its burst of fall spices and its dense but creamy texture, this fig torte is informal and luxurious at once. Its warm spice and crackly speckles of fruit will fill your kitchen with sweet autumn aromas: the kind that delight both yearning taste buds and nostalgic hearts. It’s wonderful enjoyed as a dessert, an accompaniment for afternoon tea, or even a decadent breakfast.

Frosted Fig Torte

Makes an 8″ torte; serves 8 – 10


For both the torte batter and topping, you’ll need about a pound of figs total. For the batter, feel free to use overripe figs, and use only the noted weight. Reserve your firmer figs for the decoration on top. Since fig sizes, weights, and inner appearances vary, it doesn’t hurt to have a few extra figs around, beyond the one-pound mark.

For the torte:

12.5 ounces ripe figs
1/4 cup molasses, warmed
1/2 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 350ºF.  Grease an 8″ cake pan and line inner bottom with a circle of parchment. Set aside.

Rinse and dry figs. Remove stems and slice in half. Place in the bowl of a food processor. Pour warmed molasses over the sliced figs. Pulse in food processor, stopping to scrape bowl with a spatula once or twice, until a thick paste has formed, speckled with fig peel and seeds (small chunks of fig are also welcome). Measure out 1 1/4 cups of the mixture for the batter; set aside. (Use any extra as you wish; it’s marvelous spread on warm toast or folded into oatmeal).

In a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar until light and creamy. Add the egg and beat until fully incorporated, followed by the vanilla. Sift over the bowl: flour, salt, baking soda and spices. Beat until an even, thick batter has formed.

Gently fold in the 1 1/4 cup fig-molasses paste, stirring until completely incorporated. Spread evenly into prepared pan. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes. A wooden toothpick inserted into the center should come out batter-free (a few moist crumbs are OK).

Let torte cool completely, to at least room temperature, in the pan. Once completely cool and ready to frost and decorate, invert pan to release cake, remove parchment and transfer to a serving plate.

For the topping:

4 ounces cream cheese at room temperature
1/4 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon salt
2-3 few medium figs for decoration, firm but ripe

Beat cream cheese and butter together until smooth and incorporated. Add the vanilla and mix well. Sift over the mixture: powdered sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. Beat until smooth and even. Slather cooled torte evenly with frosting.

Rinse and dry figs. Using a sharp knife, cut figs in half vertically; place face down, then slice into thin half circles. Create a sliced fig border around the edges of the torte.

Cover and keep refrigerated if not serving with a few hours, and finish within three days.

Recipe notes:

While I’ve tended to use brown figs for this recipe (such as Black Mission and Brown Turkey), I’m confident that other varieties will work just as well.

The baked torte will have risen highest on the edges. If a perfectly flat top beneath the frosting is important to you, feel free to trim the edges to level the surface before icing it.

The frosting recipe yields a generous amount — enough for a liberal layer on top, or for a thinner layer on both the top and sides.

Moriah VanVleet is the voice behind butter, sugar, flowers, where this recipe first appeared. Follow her baking adventures on InstagramFacebook and Twitter.