I have made nutmeg wine cake in the past as a way to jazz up box cake mix in a pinch, but those cakes always left me uninspired. I would make them as a bunt cake with some fresh fruit or simple glaze over the top and I always felt like the flavors were such a good idea but they could have been so much more. My husband and I were hosting a dinner party this past weekend and I wanted to have a grownup desert that was light but unique and pretty. I decided it was time to revisit nutmeg wine cake and give it new life. Enter fig buttercream frosting on a naked cake.

For this cake the naked style is especially appropriate. The nutmeg wine cake is somewhat savory and too much frosting could overwhelm the flavor.  The fig buttercream frosting is incredible tasting but has lumps of fig and seeds that make working with it a challenge. A naked layer cake seemed to be the perfect way to overcome these concerns. Not wanting anyone to feel deprived of frosting I served the cake with a dollop of Grand Marnier laced whipped cream, very grown up.


nutmeg wine cake with fig buttercream

My choice to make a naked style nutmeg wine cake and serve it with the Grand Marnier whip cream is just that my choice, you should do what you want, it’s your cake. Creative freedom is one of the best things about cooking at home, so use it. If you make a different variation on this cake, I would love to know, send it along with photos to me on my facebook page.

I have been using the America’s Test Kitchen yellow cake for a while, it’s a lovely cake and even for a non-baker like me it always comes out perfect. It tastes great, has a nice texture and I never have and issues getting it to turn out of the pans. I follow the America Test Kitchen recipe very carefully because I know from past mistakes that if I don’t it will lead to cake disaster. (For more detailed instructions visit America’s Test Kitchen.) For my nutmeg wine cake I have added the nutmeg and replaced half the buttermilk with wine from the original yellow cake recipe. I am sure you could adjust your favorite yellow cake recipe the same way if this one does not strike you fancy.


Nutmeg Wine Cake with Fig Buttercream Frosting

Course Dessert


For the Cake

  • 2 ½ cups cake flour plus extra for dusting pans
  • 1 ¼ tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp baking soda
  • ¾ tsp table salt
  • 1 ¾ cups sugar 12 1/4 ounces
  • 3 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 10 tbs 1 1/4 sticks unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
  • ½ cup buttermilk room temperature
  • ½ cup white wine room temperature
  • 3 tbs vegetable oil
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 6 large egg yolks room temperature
  • 3 large egg whites room temperature

For the Fig Buttercream Frosting

  • 3 sticks of butter softened
  • 13 oz jar of fig preserves
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 4 to 4.5 cups of powdered sugar
  • 1 to 2 tbs water as needed
  • Orange zest for garnish
  • Fresh figs for garnish

For the Grand Marnier Whip Cream

  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1 oz Grand Marnier or other orange liquor
  • 2 tbs of powdered sugar


The Cake

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease, flour and parchment line two 9 inch round cake pans. Mix all the dry ingredients together in one bowl. In another bowl mix the melted butter, wine, buttermilk, oil, vanilla and egg yolks. In a clean bowl whip the egg whites until stiff peaks just start to form. Set egg whites aside. Gradually mix the wet butter mixture into the flour using a mixer or hand beater.
  2. Using a rubber spatula gently stir in 1/3 of the egg mixture. Then gently fold in the remaining whites until batter is mixed and no white streaks remain. Evenly divide the batter between the two round pans. Bake for 20–30 minutes until cooked through. Remove from oven cool for 10 minutes then invert onto wire rack to finish cooling before frosting.

Fig Buttercream Frosting

  1. Mix together half the powdered sugar and the 3 sticks of butter; add a little water if needed to get things started. Put the vanilla extract into the frosting and keep adding sugar until the consistency and flavor of the frosting is good. Next put in the whole jar of fig preserves, use a good brand of preserves, mix well adding water or more powdered sugar as needed.
  2. To make the “naked cake” in these pictures I pipped frosting in a decorative pattern on the top edge of the bottom layer then filled in the center, using about half the total frosting. Then place the top layer on and pipe more frosting on just the top of the cake. I decorated with fresh figs and orange zest.

Grand Marnier Whip Cream

  1. Whip together all the ingredients on high until thick whipped cream forms. Serve on the side of the cake as desired.

Join Our Mailling List

Join our mailing list to receive the latest recipes and food related stories.

You have Successfully Subscribed!