Friday, September 30, 2011

Fig Tart

I made this delicious tart a few weeks ago.  It was slightly labour intensive as I was making a starter and main course on top of it all and was in such a hurry to serve and subsequently eat it, that I forgot to photograph it.  So I just had to make it again to share with you! 
Figs are in their second season at the minute although alas in Ireland, it doesn't make them any cheaper as any you see in the shops have been shipped from France and Italy - an expensive and tricky pursuit as they must be picked when perfectly ripe and transported immediately as they do not continue to ripen once they are picked.  So while elsewhere in Europe the market stalls are practically giving them away, in Dublin I am paying 1 euro a piece for a large ripe fig (although apparently Jack Roches on Meath Street has them for less than that).  I have about four figs in the garden which are still the same size and shade of green as the tomatoes - stay tuned for green tomato recipes!

This tart makes a lovely accompaniment to morning coffee or as a light dessert as it's not too creamy or heavy.  It especially appeals to me as a lover of figs and desserts which are not too sweet.

(from a recipe by Skye Gyngell)
Grease a 10" diameter shallow fluted flan tin with removable base.
Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees

To make the Pastry base:
250g plain flour, sifted with extra to dust
125g unsalted butter, well chilled 
1 egg yolk
2 tblsps chilled water
  • In a large bowl, rub the butter into the flour until it is the consistency of coarse breadcrumbs.
  • Add the egg yolk and a little of the water until the pastry comes together.  Try not to use all the water as a damp pastry is harder to handle and will shrink more.
  • Bring the pastry together into a ball, wrap tightly in cling film and place in the fridge for 30minutes to rest.
  • Remove from the fridge and roll out (I used cling film below and above the pastry to roll out, see here).
  • Line the flan-tin, using the excess pastry to patch any holes or imperfections.
  • Place it in the fridge again for 30 minutes.
  • Remove from the fridge, line the base with parchment or tinfoil and baking beans.
  • Place the base into the oven and cook for 15 minutes.  Remove the parchment or tinfoil and beans and cook for a further 10 minutes or so until the base is light brown and cooked through.
  • Set aside and allow to cool completely. 
For the crème pâtissière:

320ml whole milk
3 free-range organic egg yolks
2-3 drops of good quality vanilla essence
3 tablespoons caster sugar
3 tablespoons of plain flour
15g chilled, cubed butter 

  • In a large bowl, mix the egg yolks, caster sugar, flour and vanilla essence - I use a hand held whisk to ensure all the ingredients are well combined. 
  • Warm the milk until you can just see steam starting to rise off it.
  • Take the milk off the heat and slowly add it to the sugar/flour etc. mixture in the bowl, whisking well while you are doing so.  When all the milk is incorporated, turn all the mixture back into the saucepan and place over a low heat.  Stir in a figure-of-eight pattern until the custard has thickened.
  • Immediately take off the heat and turn through a sieve to remove any lumps.
  • Using the hand-held whisk, beat in the butter until you have a smooth, sweet egg-yellow custard.
  • Set aside until completely cold.

When both base and mix are completely cold, spoon the
crème pâtissière in an even layer into the base.
Slice the figs evenly in think slices and arrange in a circular pattern working from the outside to the inside.
Brush the figs with some warmed jam or jelly ( I used crab apple jelly) - this will give them a nice shine.

Enjoy in the last sunshine and warmth of the year.

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