Orange & Cardamom Spiced / Honey’d Fig / Olive Oil Tea Cake – the perfect mouthful

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(Orange Cardamom Spiced Honey’d Fig Olive Oil Tea Cake - recipe in post)

I’ve always been good at throwing meals together – a little of this, a pinch of that, and dinner is served. With baking, however, I’m a little more cautious. I’m unsure, at times, and rely on recipes and exact measurements as my training wheels. This is where most bakers begin, until they get the hang of things. I can finally say, now, that I’ve begun to do just that. For this cake, I pushed off with abandon, on a mission to play with flavors and create something uniquely my own.

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I’ll admit that the title of my creation is a bit of a mouthful… but it is one of my proudest successes. The flavors are light, and not too sweet. The cake slightly dense, but with a delicate crumb. Every element harrmonious, yet distinct at the same time. I could’ve eaten the entire thing on my own, had I not been so eager to share my sweet success.

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This was my second recipe using my Honey’d Fig Preserves, and I am so pleased with the results. The addition of figs to the batter reminds me of English Sticky Toffee Pudding, though less rich and dense. This cake is lighter and more delicate than the average dessert cake, and would be perfect served with a cup of tea or coffee. To sweeten it up, serve with a scoop of Honey’d Fig & Goat Cheese Ice Cream. It doesn’t get much better than that!

Orange Cardamom Spiced Honey’d Fig Olive Oil Tea Cake
(Inspired by Giada’s Almond Citrus Olive Oil Cake)
Makes one 9” cake

5-6 fresh figs, thinly sliced*
1 1/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1/4 cup almond or hazelnut flour
1/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. powdered ginger
6 cardamom pods, seeds of
2 large eggs, room temperature
1/2 cup honey
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 tsp. orange zest
2 TBSP buttermilk
1/4 cup honey’d fig preserves (click for recipe, or use store-bought fig jam)
1/2 cup good quality extra-virgin olive oil

*Figs are a precious summer treat, but this cake could easily be made with other seasonal fruits. Try slices of apricots, plums, nectarines, or citrus in place of the figs, and substitute an appropriate jam or preserve to match. Swap the ginger and cardamom for cinnamon, nutmeg, or other spices to make this cake your own!

Preheat oven to 350f, and lightly oil a 9inch cake pan. Lay thinly sliced figs evenly over the bottom of the pan, overlapping slightly. Set aside.

Sift flours, salt, baking soda, baking powder, and ginger into a large bowl. Open the cardamom pods, and grind the seeds in a spice grinder, mortar and pestle, or in a bowl with the back of a spoon – they don’t have to be fine, just broken up. Add them to the dry ingredients, and stir to combine. Set aside.

In another bowl, beat the eggs, honey, sugar, and zest until fluffy and pale. Add the buttermilk and jam, and beat to combine. While mixing, drizzle in the olive oil – the mixture will be quite thin, but don’t worry.

Fold dry ingredients into the wet, until barely moistened. Pour into prepared pan, over the top of the figs. Bake for about 30-35 minutes, or until a toothpic comes out just barely clean, being careful not to over-bake. Transfer the pan to a wire rack to cool for at least 30-40 minutes.

Place a plate or serving platter over the top of the pan, and invert the cake onto the plate, flipping it fig-side up. Serve drizzled with honey, or with a scoop of honey’d fig and goat cheese ice cream.


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38 thoughts on “Orange & Cardamom Spiced / Honey’d Fig / Olive Oil Tea Cake – the perfect mouthful

  1. Kristy

    Absolutely stunning! I’m in love with figs right now, so this has me drooling!

    Congrats on your recent success in the kitchen- it looks like a great one to be proud of! :-)

  2. Sarah

    I have no idea what this would taste like, but it all sounds so delicious! Congrats on creating such a unique recipe all on your own – I look forward to trying it out!

    1. Willow

      Whole Wheat flour will probably make the cake too dry – so I would say up the liquid in the cake, and probably also the leavening a little bit. It would probably be best to try only 50/50 whole wheat and all purpose, instead of going 100% whole wheat… but it’s definitely worth a shot! :)

  3. Yumgoggle

    Looks moist and undeniably good. Love the fig slices on top. Makes it look more compact and unique. The slices create a visual illusion of swirls and abstract design. Cool! I am sure this is a delight to enjoy for dessert.

    Myfudo here…Normally we’d never put a shameless plug back to us, but we just launched our new site and we would love for you to be a part of it. I’d love to share our newest launch with you, I hope you don’t mind? Now that we are getting a new look…Myfudo is moving to a new domain This has been a project we have been working on for almost a year now. We just launched our new gallery submission site, and we are just thrilled. We’d be proud to have your work as part of our growing collection to continue to have a larger reach and further inspire all fellow food lovers out there! Please sign up and check us out (it’s free)
    We look forward to seeing your wonderful pictures, as always.
    p.s. We are hosting a Kitchen Aid Mixer Giveaway to celebrate our new Yumgoggle site, we hope you’ll participate =)

  4. Ashlae

    Willow, your photography is so gorgeous. Drooling over this cake, and the photos. I’m starting to incorporate honey back into my diet, and now I cannot wait to try it with figs :)

  5. Joseph Erdos

    Hi Willow,

    I’d love to feature this fig cake recipe in a slideshow I’m doing for the Huffington Post. Can I have permission to use the photo? We’d link back to your site, of course.



  6. Javelin Warrior

    This cake is amazing – I love the combination of flavors and textures you have paired together and the photos are stunning! I’m featuring this post in today’s Food Fetish Friday (with a link-back and attribution). I hope you have no objections and I can’t wait to see what you create next…

  7. Richa

    that is such a gorgeous cake and amazing captures! love the flavor combination and spices. it got features on thekitchn! congrats:)

  8. Sunday Morning Banana Pancakes

    Beautiful cake Willow, isn’t it the greatest feeling to create something uniquely your own! This is such a beautiful cake and lovely pictures as always. The flavors sound amazing, all this fig posts really make me wish I had access to fresh figs :)

  9. Anonymous

    I am so sad… loved the looks of this & tried it today… a miserable failure (even though I went back & re-checked everything)… kitchen’s full of smoke from it running over the edges of the cake pan – should I have used a springform with higher edges? The only thing I can think of is that I’m @ 4,100′ elevation (but that’s not been a huge problem in the past on this sort of cake). Waiting for my oven to cool so I can clean up the mess.

    Sorry to put a damper on an otherwise wonderful article; but I won’t be wasting ingredients & time on this again.

    1. Willow

      I’m so sorry to hear that! I have no idea what the problem could be… as you can see from my cake, it didn’t rise very much. It’s a very wet, heavy batter, and there isn’t a lot of leavening. I used a basic 9×2 inch cake pan and the cake rose to about a 1/4-1/2 inch from the top of the pan. The elevation might cause some differences, but I cannot imagine it being the culprit here. Again, I am so sorry to hear this didn’t work for you! :/

  10. morgen

    This recipe sounds amazing! Just found your blog through Pinterest. Your photos are beautiful and your recipes just perfect for me. Love the Quinoa salad too, thank-you.

  11. Anonymous

    Thanks for the condolences, Willow – I’m headed north to Portland (sea level) next month so will try to make it again with figs from my mother-in-law’s tree while I visit. Thank GOODness I have a silpat liner in my oven ;~)

    1. Willow

      Silpat saves the day! And that’s very brave of you to try the recipe again… please let me know how it goes. If you still have trouble with it, I’ll play around with making the cake under a few different conditions (will try making it at friends houses, with different equipment/ovens) and try to figure out what’s going on. Fingers crossed!

  12. Georgette

    Made it last night. I didn’t have almond flour so I used buckwheat instead. It was delicious! Thanks for this amazing recipe!

    1. Willow


      Thanks for contacting me! I’d love for this cake to be included in your round-up. I’m not sure how else to get in touch with you but to reply here – please feel free to share this post, and let me know if there’s any other information you need. Many thanks!

  13. Anonymous

    I made this cake last year for the Jewish New Year (as it is customary to have a honey cake). It was a massive hit and absolutely delicious. I subbed coconut milk for the buttermilk and it was great. Making it again now – it’s in the oven – and super excited to serve this beautiful cake again. Thanks for bringing it to the world :)


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