Muffin pans make the perfect baking vessels for these little fig cakes. Gussy them up by spooning a dollop or piping a silver dollar of hard sauce on top, and then garnish them with halved fresh figs, fresh herbs, or even pecan halves.
Preheat oven to 350°. Stir together flour and next 5 ingredients in a large bowl. Gradually add oil, beating at medium speed with an electric mixer until blended. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating until blended. Add buttermilk and vanilla, beating until blended. Fold in preserves and pecans.
Spoon batter into 2 lightly greased (12-cup) muffin pans, filling 20 muffin cups about three-fourths full.
Bake at 350° for 15 to 18 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pans 5 minutes. Invert cakes onto wire racks. Cool 15 minutes.
Drizzle cakes with Buttermilk Glaze. Cool 10 minutes. Pipe Vanilla Hard Sauce onto warm cakes, and serve.