This simple, seasonal hazelnut fig cake uses two of the best autumn seasonal ingredients, combined for a soft, lightly sweet cake. This is the ideal afternoon cake for a cool September day.
If you can’t get fresh figs, the base cake is delicious on its own, and I would top it with sliced apples, pears, or stone fruits. The cake itself isn’t particularly sweet but the ground hazelnuts make it quite rich and it’s certainly a dessert.
It’s gently spiced with a hint of cardamom and vanilla for warm autumn flavours. This recipe is vegan, but without any special binding agents, and I promise that no one would notice if you didn’t tell them, so it’s perfect to bring to get-togethers or serve to hard-to-please guests.
Ingredient Notes and Substitutions
- Hazelnut meal: if you can’t buy or make your own, substitute almond meal. It will have a less distinctive flavour but will still taste good.
- Spelt flour: substitute plain white flour or whole wheat pastry flour. I haven’t tried making this recipe gluten-free.
- Coconut sugar: brown sugar or cane sugar should be fine as substitutes, but this hasn’t been tested.
- Spices: substitute cinnamon, nutmeg, or any spice blend you like in place of the cardamom.
- Olive oil: this adds a noticeable slightly grassy taste to this cake, which pairs well with the hazelnut and figs. If you want a more plain taste, you can use a lighter tasting oil.
- Milk: I always use oat milk, but any milk type can be substituted with no change to the amount.
This does use a larger cake pan and it is vital to the recipe. A smaller, taller cake using this batter has the tendency to be quite stodgy, but baking it in the larger tin (a typical German spring-form size) makes for an excellent soft crumb.
It’s very nice as is, but also good served with a bit of thick yogurt or coconut whipped cream.
How to Store
Storage: best stored in a sealed container in the refrigerator, as the figs spoil quickly at room temperature. Keep for up to three days.
Freezing: this cake can be frozen in an airtight container for up to three months, but note that the fruit topping does soften when thawed.
- Don’t over mix: spelt flour contains less protein than white flour, and if over-mixed, becomes tough. Stir until just combined.
- Use ripe figs: even slightly over-ripe will work for this recipe, but hard figs will make for a rather tasteless topping.
- Serve at room temperature: while the cake is best stored in the refrigerator, it’s best served a bit warmer for the best texture.
More Hazelnut Recipes
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Fig & Hazelnut Cake
- 2 cups light spelt flour
- 1 cup hazelnut meal
- ¾ cup coconut sugar
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon vanilla powder
- 1 cardamom pod finely ground, or 1/4 teaspoon pre-ground cardamom*
- 1 ½ cup oat or nut milk
- ½ cup olive oil
- 8-9 fresh figs halved
- Preheat the oven to 175°C (350°F) and grease a 26 cm / 10 inch springform pan or line it with paper.
- In a large bowl, combine the flour, hazelnut meal, sugar, baking powder, vanilla, and cardamom.
- In a smaller bowl, whisk the milk and oil together until incorporated. Add the milk mixture to the larger bowl and gently whisk to combine the wet ingredients into the dry. Don’t over mix.
- Pour the cake batter into the prepared baking tin and smooth the top by gently dropping the cake tin on the counter to release bubbles. Place the halved figs onto the cake, cut side up. Bake for 50-55 minutes, or until golden.
- Cool the cake on a rack for 15 minutes before removing the outsides of the pan and cooling completely. You can gently remove the base of the pan once the cake is almost cool. This cake is best at room temperature, but will keep well in the fridge for up to three days.
* For American cup measurements, please click the pink link text above the ingredient list that says ‘American’.
Nutrition is provided as a courtesy and is an estimate. If this information is important to you, please have it verified independently.
This post was first published in September 2016. It has been updated with no changes to the recipe as of January 2023.