" I couldn't give a fig....... Well, actually I would give a great many figs for this terrific cake."


The dried fruit and nuts in this cake lend a rich flavour and a pleasingly chewy texture. The cake is not without its surprises though, as the fruit and nuts collapse to the bottom of the tin in the cooking. Normally this would be considered to be a disaster, but in this case, the cake is turned upside down after cooling to achieve a layer of fruit and nuts floating magically on the top of the finished cake. Delight.

The glossy chocolate icing turns the cake into a rich confection suitable for serving as a dessert cake as much as a tea cake.

I think this might be a nice alternative at Christmas for cooks who want some of the dried fruit flavours of the season but not the full on traditional cake with all its bells and whistles.

The cake which is rich and should be served in small slices keeps really well. I have happily been eating this cake a week after I baked and iced it.

Serves: 8 – 12 

  • 4 eggs
  • 170g caster sugar
  • 200g butter melted and cooled
  • 200g ground almonds
  • 150 g Medjool dates, stoned and chopped into c ½ cm dice
  • 150g dried figs, chopped into ½ cm dice
  • 100g pistachios coarsely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon orange flower water
  • 1 teaspoon orange or vanilla extract
  • Icing 
  • 80g chocolate 62%cocoa solids
  • 80g butter


  1. Preheat oven to 170c.
  2. Paint the sides of a 24cm spring form or cake tin with a little melted butter and line the base of the tin with a disc of parchment paper.
  3. Place the eggs and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer and whisk until the mixture is pale and light. This will take about 5 minutes to achieve. The mixture should be firm enough hold a figure of eight if lifted up with the whisk. 
  4. Using a long handled flexible spatula, fold in the melted butter followed by the almonds, dates, figs, pistachios, orange flower water and orange extract.
  5. Pour the mixture into the prepared tin, smooth the surface and place in the preheated oven.
  6. Cook for 50 minutes by which time the cake should be well coloured and beginning to come away from the sides of the tin.
  7. Remove from the oven and place the cake still in the tin on a wire rack to cool. After 30 minutes, run a blunt table knife around the inside of the tin and turn out the cake. You will notice that the fruit and nuts have fallen to the bottom of the cake and that is perfect as you will be serving the cake upside down. I like to leave the disc of parchment on the paper until it is completely cool.
  8. To make the icing, place the chocolate in a pyrex bowl and sit the bowl over a saucepan of cold water. The water must not be touching the bottom of the chocolate bowl. Bring the water to a simmer and immediately turn off the heat. The chocolate will not be fully melted but will continue to melt over the residual heat in the saucepan.
  9. When the chocolate is melted, remove the bowl from the saucepan and allow to cool until barely tepid. This is very important as if the chocolate as you beat in the butter, you may end up with a sauce rather than a spreadable icing.
  10. Using an electric hand whisk or your own hand, whisk the butter into the chocolate a few pieces at a time until all of the butter is incorporated to yield a glossy and spreadable icing. If you have whisked in the butter too quickly or if the chocolate was too hot as you added the butter, the icing make become runny and more like a sauce. If this happens, place the bowl in the fridge and allow to become cold. When cold, whisk it again and it should firm up to a firm and spreadable consistency.
  11. Remove the disc of parchment paper from the cake and place fruit side up on a large flat plate.
  12. Using a spatula of flexible palate knife, spread the icing over the top and sides of the cake.
  13. The cake is now ready to serve with softly whipped cream or crème fraiche.

Watch How to Cook Well with Rory O'Connell at 8:30pm on RTÉ One every Tuesday.