I have spent the past month or so greedily eating a lot of figs. My lovely neighbours have a beautiful fig tree and they generously deliver little bags of fresh figs to me on a regular basis (thank you Ivan and Pat).
In addition, this is the first year that I have had figs from my tree. Three or four years ago when my wonderful friends Christine and Nathan moved to just half an allotment plot I went down and they filled up my car with currant bushes, strawberry plants and a fig tree that we squashed into the front seat. I planted it in the front garden and worried that my new puppy might have killed it by peeing on it. Then last year when poultry world took over the front garden I worried that the attentions of various chickens and turkeys might have finished it off.
But no, it thrives and this year it gave me figs.
I mainly eat the figs straight for breakfast or as a snack throughout the day.
Sometimes I smear a little butter on an oatcake, top it with sliced fig and a little goats cheese and then top with honey or honeycomb.
But I wanted to make this frangipane tart before the end of the season. My version is a slightly simplified rendition of the recipe from Jamie Oliver’s book Jamie’s Italy. It makes a very big tart. I might try halving the amounts next time. You can add different kinds of fruit such as plums or peaches or whatever you have. The pastry here is lovely. If I am honest, I don’t have much time for sweet pastry that doesn’t have a lot of fat, egg yolk and sugar in it – I like my pastry to be luxurious.
Italian fig tart: for the pastry – 125g butter; 100g icing sugar; pinch of salt; 255g plain flour; zest of a lemon; 2 egg yolks; 2tbs cold milk. For the frangipane – 285g ground almonds; 55g plain flour; 255g butter; 255g caster sugar; 2 large eggs; 1-2tsp of vanilla extract. 12-15 figs.
To make the pastry put the butter, icing sugar, flour and egg yolks into a food processor and whizz for a bit. Add the milk and then whizz until it starts to come together. Remove and bring together into a ball of dough and wrap in cling film. Refrigerate for at least an hour.
To make the frangipane put the butter and sugar in a food processor and whizz until it is light and creamy. Add the eggs, almonds, flour and vanilla and whizz to combine. Leave in the fridge for an hour.
Preheat the oven to 180C. Grease a large tart tin (approx. 28cm or so). Let the pastry come to room temperature, then roll out and line the tart tin. Pop in the freezer for an hour or so. Bake for about 12 minutes until lightly golden. Turn the temperature of the oven down to 170C.
Spoon the frangipane mix into the pastry case and spread out evening. Remove the stems from the figs and cut a cross into them, the open out. You could cut them into quarters if you wanted. Squash the figs into the frangipane. Then bake the tart in the oven for 40 minutes or so until the frangipane is firm and golden on the outside, but a little softer in the middle. Allow to cool for 40 minutes or longer.
I eat this for breakfast – come on, it has figs in it and nuts, it must be healthy.
Lilavati thought it looked good too.
N.B. If I am honest I did let Iblis Frog (our little black cat and official cake taster) try the pastry and the frangipane and she approved.