The perfect cake to have alongside a weekend morning with coffee and friends, this fig coffee cake is both light and deeply flavorful with fresh figs and yogurt.
Do you ever get really, really frustrated by figs? Is that a super weird question for me to ask?
Probably, but since I know you’re a food nerd like me, I’ll keep going.
I would be hard pressed to choose a favorite fruit in this world. Really I would. How can I pick favorites when things like peaches and cherries and blueberries and apples and even cranberries exist?
But then, there’s figs. They’re really a class of their own. Fresh figs are something I can literally never resist when I see them in the store. They’re earthy, sweet but not too sweet, soft but not too soft, subtle, complex, and remind me of warm bittersweet early autumn days just by their taste. They’re not a simple one-note sweet fruit; they’re like a grown up fruit sister that went to college and came home thoughtful and wiser and liking indie bands. Was that too far as fruit analogies go? Sorry.
So why am I frustrated by them? Because of their purely ephemeral nature (which really fits right in with my intellectual sister analogy if we’re being honest – you never know how long she’ll be around before she’s off to some research trip abroad or poetry reading). Once you see them in the store, at least here in Chicago, you have about 2.5 weeks to EAT ALL THE FIGS before they either become sad and moldy in their containers in the store, or disappear entirely. For someone who loves figs as much as I do, this is a tragically short season.
A year in the making
My fig dreams all came true when Brian and I went to Puglia in southern Italy during the first week of October last year. I was over the moon when I discovered that our masseria (hotel) had multiple fig trees on site, and they were all bursting with ripe figs. You can’t even begin to understand my joy when I took my first bite of a fig I picked directly off the tree, jet lagged as hell and really needing a shower. I mean, it was the closest thing to heaven.
Until I discovered that they served i fichi, freshly picked, at breakfast every. single. morning. Along with about 500 other kinds of fresh fruit and freshly baked cakes.
I’m really not sure why we came home.
Once we did get home, though, fig season’s unbelievably short season was already over here in the US. So I had to wait a whole year for them to come back so I could create this cake. I know, my life is hard. The point is, once they show up, you have to move fast!
Someday we may move to Italy (I’m not entirely joking) but until then I can channel my love of their simple, rustic cakes and my love of figs into one glorious union: this fig coffee cake.
A Perfect Brunch Cake
The flavor profile of this lovely fig coffee cake is much like figs themselves: subtle, yet complex. We start with a fairly rich butter cake base, as all good coffee cakes do, but it’s lightened up with the addition of Greek yogurt (don’t use regular yogurt, it has too much moisture for this particular cake). I actually used the same cake base as my plum coffee cake from last year, which I adore.
Quartered figs are then arranged on top and sprinkled with just a tablespoon of sugar to caramelize in the oven. I arranged them in concentric circles (see photos above), but you can arrange them however you’d like – make sure to pack them in for maximum flavor, as they do sink into the cake a bit in the middle.
It’s best to use a springform pan for this recipe. We want to be able to see the beautiful figs on top of the cake, and removable sides are the best way to do that!
Once the cake spends about an hour in the oven, let it cool for a few minutes before removing the sides of the springform pan. Garnish with additional fresh figs if you’d like, and drizzle a little honey over top. Then serve it with yogurt, more honey on the side, and lots and lots of coffee.
Fig coffee cake + coffee + friends is basically my ideal weekend morning. I hope yours is lovely too!
Fig Coffee Cake
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter softened to room temperature (1 stick)
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup Greek yogurt
- 1 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 pound fresh figs, quartered
- 1 Tablespoon granulated sugar (for sprinkling over top)
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a large bowl, with a hand mixer or stand mixer with the paddle attachment, beat butter and sugar together at high speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.
- Add eggs one at a time, beating on medium speed after each, until fully incorporated. Add vanilla and Greek yogurt, and beat on low to medium speed until incorporated.
- Add flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt, and beat on low speed until mixture is just combined. Do not overmix. Remove the mixer attachment and fold in any remaining flour pockets with a spatula if needed.
- Spread the batter into a greased 9-inch springform pan (or a high-sided 9″ round cake pan, if you don’t have a springform). Arrange quartered figs over top of the batter (I did them in concentric circles). Feel free to really crowd them in there. Once arranged, sprinkle figs evenly with 1 Tablespoon of granulated sugar.
- Bake for 55-60 minutes, until risen, browned, and a tester inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean or with a few moist crumbs.
- Cool for 10 minutes before running a knife around the edges of the cake and removing the sides of the springform pan. Let cool completely before garnishing cake with additional fresh figs and honey, and serving at room temperature with yogurt and hot coffee!
I wish this were my breakfast right now! Seriously, you need this cake in your life.