Italian Food and Flavours

Walnut Cake with Dried Figs: Torta di Noci con Fichi

Winter is upon us in Le Marche and the mountains on the horizon have their first covering of snowfall. Its cold outside but my Italian kitchen is full of the smells of baking. I have baskets and baskets of walnuts from our own trees and lots of dried figs from my Italian neighbour. Traditionally she tells me the harvested nuts and dried figs would have helped sustain them through the winter and she and her family still dry the figs carefully and slowly in their wood oven, unitl they are perfectly dehydrated, but still slightly sticky with a smoky aroma to them

Walnut Cake with dried figs : Torta di noci con fichi secci

250g  dried figs
100g shelled walnuts
3 eggs
65g caster sugar
65g  brown sugar
200ml groundnut oil ( I used last years olive oil)
250g flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground cinnamon
a pinch ground nutmeg
100ml yogurt
vanilla – a couple of drops

For the icing:
175g cream cheese
25g softened butter
vanilla – a couple of drops
125g icing sugar


Grease and line the base of two 20cm cake tins.

Roughly chop the figs and walnuts. The nuts should be chopped slightly finer than the fruit.

Mix the eggs, sugars and oil using an electric mixer, and beat till pale and fluffy.

Sift the flour with the baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg and a pinch of salt.

Add the yogurt to the cake mixture, alternating with the flour and spices. Stir in the vanilla, the figs and the walnuts.

Divide the mixture between the two lined baking tins and bake for 40-45 minutes at 180C, covering with foil for the last 10 minutes if the top is getting a little dark.

Remove from the oven, leave to settle for a few minutes then run a palette knife around the edges and carefully turn on to a cooling rack. Remove the paper from each cake.

Make the icing. Beat the cream cheese, butter and vanilla till smooth, then beat in the icing sugar. Spread a layer on the base of one of the cakes, place the other cake on top, then move to a cake stand or plate.


Recipe by Debby: from Italian Food and Flavours