When I was a kid I had a story book about a couple of country mice who sneak into town to get a taste of the high life. They broke into a mansion (whose owners had apparently vanished right in the middle of a feast) and dined of all sorts of tasty treats I had never heard of, like Yorkshire pudding and mincemeat pie, and for dessert -- figs!
I had no idea what figs were. The illustrations weren't very good, so for ages I though they were a type of fancy potato chip. When I finally tried fresh figs years later I fell in love with the sticky-sweet fruits. The season is tragically short here, so whenever they're available I buy as many as I can and see what I can do. This recipe for fig tart (along with the crust and frangipane) is from The Purple Foodie.
This is as close as I could get to the vanilla seeds -- they're almost like very, very tiny caviar.
Frangipane is just sort of a generic, sweet almond filling. It can be used with almost any fruit or flavor -- figs, chocolate, even on it's own -- usually in a tart-type pastry.
Galette pastry crust
1 1/2 cups flour
2-3 tbsp powdered sugar
1 stick cold butter, cut into cubes
1 egg yolk, beaten
Ice water to combine the dough
Mix the sugar and flour together. Blend in the cold butter and the egg yolk with a pastry cutter. It’s faster when you use your hands, but be sure to do this quickly, we don’t want the butter to melt away or we lose the flaky texture. When the mixture looks like coarse breadcrumbs, add the ice cold water, a spoonful at a time, until the dough is just combined. Divide it into two and let it rest in the freezer for 10 minutes.
1/3 cup ground almonds
1/3 cup sugar
6 tbsp. butter, softened
1 large egg
1/2 vanilla bean
In a bowl combine together the almonds and sugar, then the butter and egg until everything is pretty homogenous. Split the vanilla bean with a knife and scrape out all the tiny seeds, mixing them in. If you don’t want to use it right away, divide the frangipane into four equal parts, wrap each tightly in plastic. They will keep in the fridge for a couple of days, and up to a month in the freezer.
1 9″ pastry dough
about 10 large figs or about 15 small ones
1/4 the recipe of frangipane above
Preheat the oven to 400F
Roll out your pastry dough to about 10-inch diameter. Prick a fork through it every inch or so apart.
Place the dough on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.
Spread about 1/4 of the quantity of frangipane on the dough, leaving about 1 inch perimeter around the outer edge of the dough. Slice the figs and place them from outside inwards to form concentric circles to cover the frangipane. You want the figs to over lap some – they’ll shrink down during cooking.
Fold the edges in, pinching a little to make sure they stick. Brush the dough with eggwash and give it a good shower of sugar. Bake for about 45-50 minutes on the bottom rack, or until the pastry edges are golden brown.
August 28, 2011