Fig Holiday Roll


This festive dessert makes a beautiful addition to your holiday feast.


For the Cake

  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 stick), melted and cooled, plus more for pan and foil

  • 1 pound soft dried figs, stems removed, quartered

  • ¼ cup dried currants

  • 1 ½ cups milk

  • 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour

  • ¾ cup packed light-brown sugar

  • 2 ½ teaspoons baking powder

  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

  • ½ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

  • ¼ teaspoon ground ginger

  • ¼ teaspoon ground cloves

  • ½ teaspoon salt

  • 3 slices white bread

  • 4 large eggs

  • 2 tablespoons chopped Candied Kumquats, (optional)

  • 2 tablespoons crystallized ginger, (optional)

For the Filling and Garnish


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Make the cake: Butter an 18-by-12-inch jelly-roll pan. Line with parchment paper, and butter the parchment. Place figs, dried currants, and milk in a medium saucepan; bring to a simmer over medium heat. Cook until liquid is absorbed, 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from heat, place mixture in the bowl of a food processor, and process until it is a thick paste (it should not be completely smooth). Set aside.

  2. Sift flour, brown sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, cloves, and salt into a medium bowl; set aside. Tear bread into small pieces; place in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until even crumbs form, about 10 pulses, to yield about 1 1/2 cups breadcrumbs.

  3. Place eggs in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment; beat on high speed until frothy. Add reserved fig mixture, breadcrumbs, kumquats, ginger (if using), and melted butter. Mix until combined. With mixer on low speed, add reserved flour mixture; mix until just combined.

  4. Bring about 3 cups water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Using an offset spatula, spread batter as evenly as possible in prepared pan. Cover pan loosely with buttered aluminum foil, and place on middle rack in oven. Place a baking pan filled with the boiling water on rack beneath cake. Bake until cake is springy and a cake tester comes out clean, about 40 minutes, rotating once halfway through baking time. Remove from oven, and set on a cooling rack for 10 minutes. Lay a clean kitchen towel and a sheet pan over cake, and invert cake onto towel. Allow to cool for 10 minutes. Roll gently, using towel as a guide, curling the cake without applying too much pressure, to prevent excessive cracking. Allow roll to remain wrapped in towel for 10 minutes. Unroll, and cool to room temperature. Don't worry if there are some breaks in the cake; once filled it can be rolled with cracked pieces on bottom.

  5. Make the filling: Combine mascarpone, cream, and confectioners' sugar in a large bowl; fold until smooth. Place mixture in refrigerator until ready to use; it will be easier to roll cake if cheese mixture is cold. Using an offset spatula, spread chilled mascarpone mixture evenly over unrolled cake. Roll up again inside kitchen towel, forming a 17 1/2-inch-long log: Leaving the cake ends exposed, bring the towel's edges up over the top of the cake, and roll, applying pressure to the sides. Secure with clothespins or plastic binder clips to make a cylindrical log shape. Chill rolled cake for at least 4 hours, or overnight. Allow to stand at room temperature for 30 minutes before serving.

  6. Just before serving, trim off ends of the cake, forming a 16-inch-long log. Slice into 1-inch-thick servings. Garnish with red currants, candied kumquats, and raspberry coulis, if desired.

Cook's Notes

You may substitute cream cheese for the mascarpone; add 2 more tablespoons sugar and a half teaspoon vanilla. We used frozen currants as a garnish, but frozen grapes work just as well.

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