September 30th, 2009

Fig

Fig and Pine Nut Tart

I feel incredibly privileged to live in Britain, especially close to London as we are the “food  capital” of the world, well that’s my opinion. You can buy nearly anything all year round if you put a bit of effort in to find what your looking for. Sometimes you do not even need to go very far as a large amount of our food is imported from around the globe and sold in the supermarkets. I have been harping on all summer about growing your own fruit and vegetables, making use of the hedgerows and buying local British produce. Today I’m about to stun you! I suppose that I’m in for a lot of criticism with this recipe but it’s so good that I’m willing to take the risk.

Turkish figs are in season right now and they are superb. When I buy figs I will only choose the Turkish ones as I know they are sun ripened and guaranteed to be packed full of flavour. I love their thin skins and bright red interior,they can be served hot or cold, savoury or sweet these figs are sublime!

I have also used pine nuts, perhaps not such a good idea as they are also imported and there is a rumour that they are going to be expensive this year as the season was poor and the  crop yields  are low. Pine nuts are better known as one of the key ingredients in pesto but I like adding a handful of toasted pine nuts in salads as they add a lovely bite and a distinct flavour. I think they have been over used and for that reason some people simply cannot stand the sight of them. However when used in small amounts with care and understanding they can be a real asset to a recipe and give your dish the edge, that extra layer of flavour and excitement.

The cake batter for this tart is also perhaps a bit unorthodox for some of you as it’s not a frangipane in the true meaning of the word. The lemon zest adds a lovely citrus taste and along with the layer of fig jam at the bottom makes this tart a true delight.

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Lining a tart ring or tray with soft pastry can be a tricky  at the best of times. I have had my fair share of problems and I’m the expert in patching holes in pastry. One kitchen porter who was fascinated with what I was doing once told me that I should have been a builder instead of a chef as I’m very good in filling holes. I did not quite know how to take that one,as a compliment or criticism, well I had a good giggle and it made me more determined to get it right.

Lining a tray with sharp corners like this one is  extra tricky, however if you  roll the pastry back onto the rolling pin, lifting it up and then gently unroll the pastry over the tray this is the key to success. By doing this you will neither make holes nor will you stretch the pastry. I have also found that with this technique you can roll your pastry nice and thin and will never suffer from raw door stoppers again….hope you know what I’m talking about! I’m referring to very thick pastry, before I discovered this technique I always rolled the pastry thick to help me lift it and line my trays without a disaster. However I was in for another disaster as I created door stoppers they donot cook all the way through, now that’s super unpleasant.

This tart does not require you to blind bake the pastry as it will cook all the way through at the same time, the jam layer keeps it all nice and moist.

Serve a slice of this tart slightly warm with a large dollop of honey flavoured crème fraîche as a dessert or make individual dainty ones for a pretty afternoon tea.

If you are not a fig fan you could substitute the figs for firm plums, apricots, pears, peaches or even apples and replace the pine nuts with crushed cobnuts or pistachios.

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Sweet Short Crust Pastry

  • 230g plain all purpose flour
  • 140g good quality unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 60g unrefined caster sugar
  • 2 medium free range eggs
  • pinch of salt

Weigh the softened butter, salt and sugar in to the bowl of a mixer, use the flat paddle attachment and cream the sugar and butter until fluffy and pale in colour.

Slowly add the egg to the butter mixture, mix well.

Remove the mixing bowl and sieve the flour over the creamed butter, return to the mixer with the paddle, slowly mix the flour into the butter, do not over mix. Once the pastry comes together stop.

Turn the pastry out on to a lightly floured work surface, do not knead the pastry, just push it together into a flat square, wrap with clingfilm and let it rest in the fridge.

Thermomix Instructions

Using the built in scales weigh the sugar and salt directly into the Thermomix bowl and grind for 10 seconds on speed 10. Add the butter and blend for 20 seconds on speed 10, scrape the sides down and insert the butterfly whisk. Cream the butter for 1 minute on speed 4. Add the eggs one at a time creaming at speed 3 for 20 seconds per egg. Remove the butterfly whisk and add the sifted flour, blend for 10 seconds on speed 3, scrape the sides down and repeat if necessary. Turn the pastry out on to a lightly floured work surface, do not knead the pastry, just push it together in to a flat square, wrap with clingfilm and let it rest in the fridge.

Almond Batter

  • 100g unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 100g cater sugar
  • 100g ground almonds
  • 25g plain flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 2 medium free range eggs
  • Zest of one lemon

Cream the soft butter and sugar until creamy and fluffy.

Ad the eggs one at a time and mix well after each addition.

Sift the flour and baking powder over the creamed mixture and add the almonds and the lemon zest, fold it all together.

Thermomix Instructions

Using the built in scales weigh the sugar directly into the Thermomix bowl and grind for 10 seconds on speed 10. Add the butter and blend for 20 seconds on speed 10, scrape the sides down and insert the butterfly whisk. Cream the butter for 1 minute on speed 4. Add the eggs one at a time creaming at speed 3 for 20 seconds per egg. Add the sifted flour and baking powder, almonds and lemon zest and fold it gently in for 10 seconds on speed 3, scrape the sides down and repeat if necessary. The almond batter is now ready to be used.

Fig and Pine Nut Tart

  • 1 recipe Sweet Short Crust Pastry
  • 1 recipe almond cake batter
  • 150g fig jam
  • 4 large figs
  • 3tbs honey
  • 2tsp pine nuts

Preheat the oven to 170°C.

Roll the pastry 3-4mm thick out on a lightly floured work surface, place the rolling pin at one end of the pastry roll it up onto the rolling pin, lift the pastry onto the tart tin. This method prevents you from stretching or tearing the pastry. Line a 9" x 9" square fluted tart tin.

Spread the jam at the base followed by the almond cake batter.

Wash the figs, cut them in 1/4's and then place the figs on top of the almond batter, do not push them in as they will naturally sink a bit.

Scatter the pine nuts and bake the tart in the preheated oven for 50 minutes.

Once the tart is cooked, heat the honey for a few seconds in the microwave and use a pastry brush to brush the honey over the tart to glaze.

Let the tart cool for 10 minutes before removing it from the cake tine to cool completely on a cooling rack.

Serves 6

Food Fanatics Tips

The secret to the pastry recipe is to not over work the pastry, work quick and rest the pastry for at least 30 minutes before using. If you made the pastry a day in advance then remove the pastry from the fridge at least 30 minutes  before using, this will help the pastry to soften slightly and prevent you from stretching the pastry when rolling.


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11 Comments to “Fig and Pine Nut Tart”

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  1. Kirstin says:

    I can’t wait to get my hands on some figs, they’re always so beautiful to photograph!

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