An Italian friend once told me there are certain things you just don’t buy. One of them is tomatoes and another is figs. No matter where in Italy you live, some friend or neighbour will be growing them in their garden, and at this time of year people happily swap, or give away, the excess. So far, this year, I’ve been presented with two crates of tomatoes—for homemade passata—a huge crate of potatoes, and copious baskets of figs. We grow tomatoes and potatoes as well as delicious blackberries, but don’t have a fig tree, so thank providence for a very good friend who does.
So far, we’ve made fig jam, plain and with ginger, but another crate of figs arrived today, so I decided to get back to my pâtisserie roots and make a fig tart. Although these are eaten in Italy, I will confess that the recipe is really French. It uses puff pastry—pasta sfoglia in Italian—which you can, of course, buy. However, if you have the time and inclination, homemade is always better. I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again: puff pastry takes less time to make than it does to drive to the shops to buy it. The total working time is about 15 minutes and the rest of the time is spent resting the dough when you are free to get on with something else. I tend to make it in batches of about 700g and then freeze what I don’t need for next time. It freezes very well.
The amount of honey to use depends on how sweet your figs are to start with. If you have black figs, you will only need a small amount. Here, everyone grows green figs which are a little less sweet naturally, but taste one to try before baking. If you don’t have or like honey, then you can sprinkle the figs with a little sugar before baking, but the honey makes a very nice glaze on the tart so I’d use it if you can.
Anyway, enjoy the recipe and buon appetito!
Crostata ai fichi
Preparation time: 15 mins
Cooking time: 40 mins
Total time: 55 mins
200g (7 ounces) puff pastry (shop bought or homemade)
100g (2/3 cup) ground almonds
50g (1/2 cup) icing sugar
50g (1/2 stick) softened butter
20 fresh figs
icing sugar for sprinkling
- Line a patisserie ring or tart tin with puff pastry and blind bake at 180°C for about 20 minutes. Remove it from the oven and allow it to cool, still in the ring or tin.
- Cream the almonds, sugar, and butter together in a bowl. Add the egg and mix until fully combined.
- Spread the almond mixture over the base of the pastry case.
- Cut the figs into halves or quarters and arrange on top of the almond mixture, cut side up.
- Pour a little honey over each of the figs.
- Bake at 180°C for about 25 minutes. Allow to cool completely and then sprinkle with icing sugar before serving.