Dessert elegance at its finest, this Banana Cake with Fig Jam and Mocha Buttercream features moist banana layers filled with the most lusciously sweet fig jam and a decadent coating of rich mocha buttercream. This truly is a dessert fantasy come true!!
Hey friends, serious question: How deep is your love for figs? If you said your love knows no bounds, then let me be the first to tell you that not only are you in good company (I am obsessed) but that you have come to the right place. This banana cake is filled with the sweet, jammy figgy goodness you know and love and I couldn't be more excited to share it with you!!
Growing up, I was always on the fence when it came to figs. I know, I know what was I thinking!! My grandmother always had figs in the kitchen. Fresh figs, dried figs, fig preserves, you name she had it. And although they were right in her kitchen, in my grasp, they felt almost too fancy to eat. Younger me just could not comprehend that these teardrop jewels were not something I should be second guessing but devouring.
It was during one hot Texas summer spent at my grandmothers house that I finally decided to take the dive and try my first fig. Once I bit into that soft, luscious skin and tasted that sweet/fruity-floral combination, my love affair with figs was born. I wanted them everyday!! Fresh, dried, in cookie form, or made into jam and slathered on a piece toast. It didn't make any difference to me. When it comes to figs, the more, the better.
Creating the Banana Cake and Fig Jam
So, you could only imagine how hard it was for me to contain my excitement when it came time to partner with my good friends, Valley Fig Growers, to showcase their delicious California Dried Figs. It was an honor to partner with a brand who truly values their commitment to the quality of their Orchard Choice and Sun-Maid products. Their figs are California grown in the rich, fertile San Joaquin Valley. California produces 100% of the nation’s dried figs and 98% of the fresh figs. Not only do they produce THE best dried figs, but their fig-grower owned cooperative is the largest handler of figs in North America!! How amazing is that?! Extra bonus? their high quality dried figs are available year round, making all of our figgy dreams come true!!
This banana cake with its epic fig jam and insanely rich mocha buttercream was a true labor of love. Figs are so amazingly versatile in their flavor pairings. It was important to me to choose ingredients that not only highlight the figs, but elevate them to another level. Banana and chocolate are already a power food couple on their own. But add figs to the mix and you've got yourself one epic combination. These three flavors work in perfect harmony, playing off one another beautifully.
Why I Choose Black Mission Figs
Black Mission Figs are super flavorful and are the sweetest of the dried fig varieties. Plus, how could you not fall in love with that dark purple skin and golden interior!! The sweetness of the mission figs was the perfect complement for the more subtle sweetness of the banana cake.
How to make Fig Jam
Essentially dried figs could be used two ways in this recipe. Either chopped and folded into the cake batter or made into a jammy filling. The lure of a sweet, sticky, jammy filling was calling my name and impossible for me to resist. I started the process by first removing the stems from the dried figs and chopping them in ¼-inch pieces. I then placed them in a medium sized saucepan with water to rehydrate them. Not only does rehydrating dried figs make them softer, but easier to cook. The addition of cinnamon, lemon juice, lemon zest, vanilla and a pinch of salt were all perfect accompaniments to the figs and really propelled this jam to the next level.
Not only is this quick jam the star of the show, but it literally takes less than 30 minutes to make. After simmering on the stove until the figs are softened, the figs and their liquid are put into a food processor and pulsed until smooth. The mixture is then returned to the saucepan and cooked down until its nice and thick. The most important rule of thumb here is don't leave your jam unattended while its cooking!! No one wants burnt jam!!
This recipe will make more than what you need to fill the cake, but I doubt you will have any trouble finding other uses for it. This jam is so addicting, I was literally eating it by the spoonful.
Tips for making Banana Cake
Please believe me when I say that this cake tastes just like your favorite banana bread. But in cake form!! Warm hints of cinnamon, rich caramel notes from the brown sugar, and vanilla come together to create the most flavorful banana cake. This cake is a breeze to make and if you follow these simple steps, you'll have perfect banana layers every time.
- Use room temperature ingredients - It always important to use room temperature ingredients but especially for this cake. When your ingredients are at room temperature, it is easier for them to create a emulsion and trap air. This ensures a good rise and perfect texture.
- Brown Sugar - Brown sugar not only contributes to the sweetness but also adds moisture. You can use either light or dark brown sugar. I opted for light brown sugar for this cake but if you choose to go with dark brown, expect a more intense molasses flavor and a darker bake. Also, be sure to de-clump your brow sugar. Whether it be with a knife or your fingers. The last thing you want to do while chewing your cake is to bite into a a clump of sugar.
- Use ripe bananas - My absolute favorite bananas to use for baking are spotty (not blackened). The spottier they are, the sweeter the banana!! Depending on how much muscle you want to put into it, you can mash your bananas one of three ways. With a fork, with a potato masher, or you can use my favorite method the handheld mixer. Chop your bananas in large chunks then beat them with a handheld mixer until they are thoroughly mashed.
The rich decadence that mocha buttercream brought to this cake was unreal!! The touch of coffee brings out the flavor of the chocolate and makes it more robust. It also helps balance out the sweetness of the buttercream so it is not as overly sweet like traditional American buttercream. To really make the coffee flavor sing, I added both espresso powder and brewed coffee. It is also important to use a high-quality Dutch processed cocoa powder and a pinch of salt to balance the flavors.
Assembling Banana Cake with Fig Jam and Mocha Buttercream
Now this is where the fun starts!! Here are some basic rules when assembling this cake to make sure it looks glamorous every time.
- I like to start by making my fig jam ahead of time since it takes a while to cool. After it is finished cooling, I then transfer it into a mason jar and place it in the fridge until I am ready to use it.
- Make sure your cakes are completely cool before assembling your cake. Right when I take them out of the oven, I let them cool for about ten minutes before inverting them onto wire racks and letting them cool completely. If you are preparing your cake the night before, you can wrap them tightly in plastic wrap until you are ready to assemble your cake.
- Once you are ready to assemble your cake, place one layer on a cake stand and with your piping bag (which should be filled with your frosting) pipe a border around the edges of your cake. This border will serve as a barrier for your fig jam and prevent it from oozing out when slicing your cake.
- Next, fill the center of your cake with the fig jam using an offset spatula to smooth the jam to edges of the chocolate border.
- Lastly, place the second layer on top and refrigerate the cake for 20 minutes before frosting. If you skip the refrigeration, you run the risk of your filling and frosting oozing out when sliced. Once filled and frosted, refrigerate the cake for another 15 to 20 minutes.
What can be made in advance
If this cake is a little too much for you to make in one day, feel free to prepare the jam in advance and refrigerate when ready to use. The cake can also be prepared in advanced but I would not recommend making it more than a day in advance because of the bananas.
The frosting can be made in advance and stored in an airtight container. When you are ready to use, allow the frosting to come to room temperature. Re-whip with a handheld mixer or stand mixer until you reach a smooth buttercream consistency.
How to store Banana Cake with Fig Jam
If you have not yet sliced your cake, you can store it in the refrigerator as is. If it is sliced, cover all sliced areas with plastic wrap and refrigerate. Refrigerate all cut slices in an airtight container.
So friends what are you waiting for? Take your Spring brunch to the next level with this elegant showstopper!! And then secretly eat the rest of the fig jam when no one is watching. I promise I won't tell!!
Banana Cake with Fig Jam and Mocha Buttercream
- Stand Mixer
- Hand mixer
- 2 8-inch cake pans
For the Cake
- 3 cups all purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ cup unsalted butter room temperature
- 1 cup light brown sugar packed
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- 3 large eggs room temperature
- 1 ½ cup buttermilk room temperature
- 1 ½ cup mashed ripe bananas
For the Fig Jam
- 8 ounces dried Misson Figs Orchard Choice or Sun-Maid California Mission Figs (I used Orchard Choice)
- 1 cup water
- ¾ cup granulated sugar
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon lemon zest
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- ⅛ teaspoon kosher salt
For the Mocha Buttercream
- 1 cup unsalter butter room temperature, 2 sticks
- 3 ½ cup powdered sugar
- ¾ cup Dutch processed cocoa powder
- 2 tablespoons brewed coffee room temperature
- 2 teaspoons espresso powder
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 3 tablespoons heavy whipping cream
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- Pre heat oven to 325 degrees F. Grease two 8-inch round cake pans with baking spray with flour. Line bottom of cake pans with a circle of parchment paper.
- Mash bananas thoroughly until no chunks remain. You can do this with fork, potato masher, or my favorite the hand held mixer. Measure out 1 ½ cups of mashed bananas and set aside. I used four medium sized bananas.
- In a large bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon and set aside.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter and sugars together on medium-high speed until light and fluffy. About 3-5 minutes.
- Add eggs, one at a time, and beat well after each addition.
- Next, stir in lemon juice, vanilla extract and mashed bananans.
- With the mixer on low speed, slowly add flour mixture (flour should be added in 3 rounds and buttermilk in two) alternating with the buttermilk, beginning and ending with the flour mixture. Mix just until combined after each addition, being careful not to overmix. Be sure to scrape down the sides as necessary after each addition. Mix ingredients just until incorporated. At the end, I like to take a large spatula and mix the batter (about 10 strokes) making sure to reach all of the batter at the bottom of the bowl to ensure all the butter is incorportated.
- Divide batter evenly into prepared cake pans and bake for 35-45 minutes (mine were done at 45 minutes). Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
- Allow cakes to cool in cake pans for ten minutes on wire rack. Invert and remove cakes from cake pans. Let cake cool completely on wire rack. Do not frost cake until completely cool.
- Remove stems from figs and chop into ¼ inch pieces.
- In a medium sized saucepan, combine figs, water, sugar, lemon juice, lemon zest, vanilla extract, cinnamon, and salt. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer for 5-8 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the figs are softened and the sugar has dissolved.
- Remove pan from heat and allow mixture to cool slightly, about 10 minutes. Pour mixture into a food processor and blend until smooth.
- Transfer puree to the same saucepan used to cook the figs and cook on medium heat for about 8 minutes, stirring constantly. The puree will start to thicken into a jam like consistency. Once thickened, remove from heat and allow jam to cool completely. Store in a mason jar into ready to use. Any left over jam should be stored in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.
- In a medium size bowl, sift together powdered sugar, cocoa powder, espresso powder, and salt. Set aside.
- In the stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter until light and fluffy. About five minutes.
- With the mixer on low, add the sifted powdered sugar one cup at at time, scraping down the bowl after each addition. Make sure each cup is fully incorporated before adding the next cup. Mixture will be very thick.
- Add vanilla, coffee, and heavy cream and mix on low until incorporated.
Assembling the Cake
- Smear a tiny amount of frosting on a cake stand or cake board. Place first cake layer on top. Using a piping bag fitted with a large piping tip, pipe a border of frosting around the rim of the top of the cake layer. Spread 1 cup of the fig jam inside the dam. Stack the second cake layer on top. Cover cake with a thin layer of buttercream (crumb coat) and refrigerate for 10 minutes. Remove cake from fridge and apply final coat of buttercream. Return cake to refrigerator for about 15-20 minutes before serving.