Sandra Gutierrez: Pecan Rum Cake with Figs

We welcome a guest post from Sandra A. Gutierrez, author of The New Southern-Latino Table: Recipes That Bring Together the Bold and Beloved Flavors of Latin America and the American South. Fig season is here, and we’re seeing lots of figs at the farmers’ market these days. If you’re wondering what sort of wonderful things you can do with them, you can put this recipe at the top of the list! [This recipe is crossposted at]—ellen

Call me a romantic, but there is something about the idea of eating a slice of cake and drinking a cup of hot tea on a Southern porch that makes me think of an era long gone, when women with gloved hands used to visit each other for hours of long conversation and social camaraderie. This is the kind of cake that will make you want to grab your finest china and set the table, even if just to enjoy it by yourself. I recently heard a friend comparing eating a fig to a kiss. How appropriate then, that this delicious cake is enhanced by a combination of sweet figs and meaty pecans.

I grew up in Latin America, eating cakes soaked in rum that we used to call borrachos or drunken cakes. Rum, after all, is made out of sugarcane and in my opinion, that is enough of a reason to feature it in baked goods. Here, instead of adding it in the form of rum syrup, I add it straight into the batter, which infuses it with a subtle essence and therefore makes it suitable for romantics of all ages. Figs grow so abundantly in the southern United States and I love preserving them when they are in season; this way I can enjoy them well into the holiday season. You’ll find a recipe for my Figs Preserves in my book but you can also use the store-bought kind (although I’ll be honest and say that I think it worth your while to make my recipe for those too). The combination of flavors in this elegant cake will hopefully seduce your senses as much as it does mine.

Pecan Rum Cake with Figs, recipe and photo by Sandra A. Gutierrez
Pecan Rum Cake with Figs

Pecan Rum Cake with Figs

1½ cups all-purpose flour
1 cup cornstarch
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon allspice
¼ teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
6 eggs, at room temperature
⅓ cup dark rum
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
½ cup chopped pecans
1 ½ cup fig preserves
¼ cup confectioners’ sugar

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter the bottom and sides of a 10-inch springform pan, line the bottom with parchment paper, and butter the paper. Sift the flour, cornstarch, baking powder, allspice, and salt into a large bowl; set aside. Using an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar on high speed for 2-3 minutes or until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition, stopping to scrape the sides of the bowl. Turn the mixer to low and add the dry ingredients; blend until well incorporated, stopping occasionally to scrape the sides of the bowl. Add the rum and vanilla and mix until combined. Add the mayonnaise and beat for 30 seconds, or until the mixture is smooth. Stir in the pecans and preserves. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 50-55 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean and the cake begins to pull away from the sides of the pan. Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes; remove the sides of the pan and cool completely. Invert the cake to remove the bottom of the pan and the parchment and transfer it, right side up, onto a platter; sprinkle liberally with confectioners’ sugar. Makes 1 cake (10-12 servings).

Sandra A. Gutierrez, author of The New Southern-Latino Table, grew up in the United States and Guatemala, is a journalist, food writer, culinary instructor, and recipe developer. She lives in Cary, N.C., with her husband and their daughters. Visit the author’s website at, and follow Gutierrez on Twitter @sandralatinista.