Ocracoke Fig Cake

An island classic, traditionally using fig preserves made from locally grown fruit.



Prep time:

30 min

Total Time:

1.5 hours

Good For:



About this Recipe

Each year on Ocracoke, the village hosts a Fig Festival. During this celebration, locals and visitors alike enjoy all manner of treats made from the locally grown figs. Fig cake always features prominently, made with fig preserves, which can be found in shops all over the island. (If you can’t make it to Ocracoke to get their locally jarred preserves, try Braswell’s!)

Eating lower sugar or sugar free? Substitute the granulated sugar with All Purpose In the Raw or another sugar alternative and enjoy the taste without the calories or the blood sugar spikes! Don’t have buttermilk? Start with a tablespoon of lemon juice and then fill the rest of the 1/2 cup with regular milk and let it sit for a minute to sour.



  • 3 eggs
  • 1 ½ cups sugar or sugar alternative
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • ½ cup buttermilk
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 ¼ teaspoons cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon cloves
  • ½ teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 tablespoon warm water
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 2 cups fig preserves
  • 1 ½ cups chopped walnuts (optional)
  1. Prepare. Pre-heat your oven to 350°F. Grease and flour a Bundt pan, either smooth-sided or fluted.
  2. Mix wet ingredients. In a medium bowl, combine eggs, sugar, and vegetable oil and mix well. Pour in buttermilk and continue to mix.
  3. Mix dry ingredients. In a separate bowl, mix flour, salt, and spices. Set aside.
  4. Dissolve baking soda in warm water.
  5. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and stir until combined. Add in baking soda and vanilla. Finally, stir in the fig preserves and nuts.
  6. Bake for approximately 1 hour, until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Cool completely before taking out of pan.

From the Books

Fig cake is mentioned several times in Yesterday’s Tides. As one of the island’s most distinctive recipes, each family has their own favorite version, and Serena at the Ocracoke Inn is no exception!

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