Oil-free Banana Fig Cakes with Date-Coconut Drizzle

Banana Fig Cakes

Last week I spotted a gigantic purple fig hiding amongst the leaves in one of our potted plants.  Kel and I watched its progress carefully; we didn’t want to let this one go to the deer or raccoons.  At last, on Monday evening, we determined that the fig was ready.  I gently pulled it off of the branch and cradled its still warm body in my hand.  With reverence, Kel handed me his pocket knife and I carefully sliced the fig in two – releasing, as I did, a flurry of tiny winged creatures into the evening air…

Now, I know that some vegans do not eat figs because there are insects that use the tender interior of the fig to lay eggs (come on – we all know they’re in there munching away, too!) and not wanting to harm these delicate creatures, these vegans shun this plump and sensual fruit.  Should I stop eating whole grains and flours because of the hordes of desiccated bug carcasses that are buried within?  To these vegans I respectfully say: perhaps you have never experienced a soft, sweet, warm-off-of-the-tree fig; you should try one.  I admit that I was momentarily put off by the sight of the swarm of fruit flies hastily exiting the belly of the fruit (I imagined that my face was the Death Star and inside of the fig could be heard that sexy-computer voice urging the flies to abort the mission: “The mother fig will self-destruct in 10, 9, 8…“)  But I persevered and now the fig is just a pleasant taste memory.

Here is the fig, in its natural habitat, just days before eating:

Fig on branch

Here’s the same fig just before it met its noble destiny in the form of my mouth:

A fig in the hand

And so now we move on to the dried variety of figs – and the wonderful thing they can do for little cakes (baked in my recently acquired hamburger bun pan from King Arthur Flour…).  Insects included at no extra charge.

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Oil-free Banana Fig Cakes with Date-Coconut Drizzle

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  • Author: Annie
  • Cook Time: 30
  • Total Time: 120


Moist and tender banana & fig cakes with a rich and decadent date-coconut drizzle. Vegan and oil-free.




  • 1 cup dried figs
  • ~1 cup boiling water
  • 3 large, very, very ripe bananas, mashed
  • 1/2 cup non-dairy milk
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/4 cup natural peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup pure maple sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. stevia powder
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/3 walnuts, chopped

Date-Coconut Drizzle

  • 1/4 cup dates (about 6), soaked, drained, and chopped
  • 1/4 cup water (+ more for thinning if needed)
  • 2 Tbsp. virgin coconut oil
  • 1/4 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract



  1. Preheat the oven to 350-degrees F and lightly oil a 6-cup mini-cake pan (or use a 12-cup muffin tin or a loaf pan).
  2. In a small bowl, soak the figs in enough boiling water to cover and let soak for about 30 minutes. Drain the figs and coarsely chop.
  3. In another small bowl, bananas, nut milk, vanilla, peanut butter, and maple sugar. Set aside.
  4. In a large bowl, combine the flours, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, salt, and stevia powder. Stir in the wet ingredients and mix until thoroughly combined – then stir in the figs and nuts. Divide the batter among the mini-cake tins. Bake the cakes for about 30-35 minutes. Let cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then remove to a wire rack to cool completely.
  5. Divide date-coconut drizzle on the cakes and serve.

Date-Coconut Drizzle

  1. Place all ingredients in a blender and process until smooth. You want a drizzlable consistency, so add water as necessary. Make this oil-free by omitting the coconut oil and using less water. The drizzle won’t firm up as much as it sits, but it will be just as tasty.


  • Serving Size: 6
  • Calories: 446
  • Sugar: 34
  • Sodium: 378
  • Fat: 11
  • Saturated Fat: 6
  • Unsaturated Fat: 5
  • Trans Fat: 0
  • Carbohydrates: 82
  • Protein: 9
  • Cholesterol: 0



52 thoughts on “Oil-free Banana Fig Cakes with Date-Coconut Drizzle

  1. hopephilosophy

    Wonderful recipe! Do you think it’d be possible to bake the batter in one big pan for a larger cake? If so, do you have recommendations on pan size and/or cooking time?

  2. Sophie33

    My figs are not yet ripe on my tree,…deep sigh! But if they are ready, I am surely going to make these tasty treats!!! They looks awesomely delicious, Annie!

  3. heathergfc

    Are you kidding me about the figs??? I had no idea! I eat vegan, but I have looked the other way on the honey issue, so I’m not the purest of vegans. 😉 Anyway, these little cakes look adorable! And I’m sure they could be made gf with a few substitutions. YUM!

  4. Move Eat Create

    These look beautiful! I have absolutely fallen in love with figs recently and eat them any way I can. I will need to adapt these to make sans gluten, but I look forward to that challenge!

    1. An Unrefined Vegan

      It’s always a treat when fresh figs are in the stores, isn’t it? There’s just something about them – subtle, yet sweet and certainly beautiful. I’m sure you’ll have no problem converting this to a GF recipe.

  5. Brittany

    Umm…I had no idea bugs lived INSIDE the figs..I really don’t care about the bugs well being (bad vegan) but that actually grosses me out! The idea of them laying eggs inside something I am about to eat makes me want to barf. HAHAHA ok well anyway, I would still eat this gorgeous fig! AND of course this cake!

    1. An Unrefined Vegan

      It does take some fortitude to get over it. The way I figure it, there are critters finding their way into my food all of the time. I’ve got enough phobias and control issues as it is – can’t think about that one too much.

  6. Ryan D

    Ok maybe I just haven’t experienced the right kind yet, but that is the biggest fig I have ever seen! We just discovered fresh figs at the farmers market this past weekend and they were the size of my thumb.

    Also how does one start a fig tree and how many years to fruition? I’m sure I can google this too, but I’m working on an orchard of varied fruit trees in my backyard and this would be a nice addition.

    1. An Unrefined Vegan

      Fig trees can be purchased from many nurseries as 1-2 foot twigs with small root balls. Figs bear fruit on second year growth, so you would begin to have fruit in your second or third year, AS LONG AS LAST YEAR’S GROWTH ISN’T KILLED BY COLD TEMPERATURES. Figs can take a freeze which kills their leaves but if the weather is cold enough, 20 degrees and colder, the branches will die and you will get no fruit the next year. I live in Oklahoma, zone 6B, and my outdoor figs, of which I have a dozen or more varieties, get killed to the ground each year. Every year they start over, growing from their root ball, so I get no fruit. Zones 7, 8, etc. will have better luck with figs. The Mid Atlantic (e.g. Wash, DC) is good for figs because the winter temperatures stay relatively mild. You will find fig trees there 20+ feet tall. If you live in colder climates, you can grow figs in containers and move them indoors in the winter. That’s what we do, but it is lots of work! I do get fig crops but it is much more difficult to keep them watered when in containers – and figs like plenty of water. Also, figs in containers cannot be left outside in winter because the cold will kill their roots. No plant is particularly happy in a restrictive container, and that includes figs. Check out Raintree Nurseries for the amazing variety of figs. What you saw in the farmers market was just a intro to the wonderful world of fresh figs. They are addictive, but unfortunately reserved for outdoor gardeners with mild winter temperatures. Best of luck w/ your orchard!

  7. tinykitchenstories

    They sound (and look) delicious! Interesting point you make about the vegans not eating figs for the insects…because a lot of small animals like rabbits and mice are killed during the grain harvest process. Which is incredibly sad to hear about! I only heard about it recently.

    But back to the figs–we had some the other day that were fresh off the tree and they were hea-ven-ly!! Can you imagine back before processed sugar? Figs must have been gold!

      1. tinykitchenstories

        Yeah, probably not. But there is a bigger issue of the mistreatment of cattle, pigs etc who are bred for consumption. I think vegetarians and polyvores should all work together on improving that problem!

  8. celestedimilla

    Hey Annie! I love figs and your little cakes look delish. Still, I had no clue that insects lay eggs in figs. That grossed me out. I know that wasn’t your intent, but yuck!!! I’ll probably still eat figs, especially if they’re baked in yummy cakes, but I might wait until the image of bugs inside figs fades a bit. Celeste 🙂

  9. annesturetucker

    I love figs and used to have the biggest tree in my garden in Denmark – I miss picking them straight from the tree – such a luxury 🙂
    I had no clue about the insects, interesting…… I will forget that part and continue to enjoy

  10. K

    I grew up on a farm that had a big fig tree in amongst an orchard of many pear, apple, cherry, and plum trees. I ate a number of fresh figs over the years, and I hate to tell you this, but it is not at all normal to have a swarm of insects fly out when you cut it open! Microscopic eggs may occasionally be present, perhaps, but visible insects are not a good sign. Your fig would have been considered a cull by most growers.

    It is true that insects are never completely unavoidable when it comes to plant foods, or indeed modern life in general. They’re an essential part of the ecosystem and life cycle of the plants (pollenation, etc.) and cannot be fully separated. However, that doesn’t mean there’s no value in trying to limit one’s intake to the inadvertant.

    It’s worth mentioning that cultures that do consume insects on purpose virtually always cook them to a germ killing temperature. Have them in a raw form (like fruit) is a bit more of a sanitary issue.

    1. An Unrefined Vegan

      Hey there – thanks so much for taking the time to comment with your experience.

      The insect that I refer to is the fig wasp which lays its eggs – if the fig is male (which, incidentally, means the fig is inedible to us) – in the fig’s center. If the fig is female (the kind that we eat), sadly, the wasp cannot find the space she requires to lay her eggs and she dies within the fruit. Either way – the wasp provides pollination. But, you probably already know this if you grew up with an orchard.

      But really, my goal was to have a bit of fun at my own vegan expense. One of my reasons for not eating other living creatures is to cause no harm. But how far does one take this? The reality is that killing cannot be avoided completely – no matter how sincere our intentions. For instance, a walk across the lawn may mean many ants or beetles are crushed by my feet; when I harvest a bunch of basil I am destroying the habitat of spiders and also of the bees that visit the blossoms; when I bake bread I am most likely roasting the larvae of pantry moths that were in the flour. One could go absolutely bonkers contemplating it all! It’s true that the exact fig I wrote about in this post had a few fruit flies – as does much of the fruit that I bring home from the grocery store. It’s just part of the bargain. Of course I never eat any produce that is visibly rotting or has a bad odor – I’m far too squeamish, life-loving, and OCD for that kind of behavior.

  11. Richa

    woah. dint know about the insects in the figs.
    true. it is very difficult to know and then avoid each and every type of animal affected. love the banana fig cake. it must taste delicious with all that drizzle!

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  15. Cindy

    Any substitute for peanut butter? Can I use applesauce? I baking for a friend who is vegan, oil free, nut free.


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