Saturday, 29 March 2014

A fig-related mission

“YOU buy figs?! You want? You buy?”
I distinctly recall the calls of broken English bellowing down my driveway, coming from the tiny Italian woman who lived down the street.
This was many years ago now, I was only 18, new to city living and I was quite frightened of the little woman bearing bags of fruit I had no interest in and had never really tasted.
Nowadays I’ve tasted enough figs, both alone and in sweet and savoury dishes, to regret not taking that little old lady up on her offer.
Instead, I find myself pushing the two lads in my road-train-esk pram down the street to knock on the door of the Italian couple down the road who I’ve heard have got the goods.
I’m informed they’re all out. Sigh.
Dejected, I call my dear old Nan and get her on the case.
After a quick dash to the Manning Farmers Market, Nan’s got the gold. I pick up my non-descript brown paper bag and dash home to finally start on the recipe I’ve been dreaming about for the last few weeks (I’ve stalked many fruit and veggie shops and markets during that time).

As suspected, the result was well worth the effort of tracking down some figs! So if you’re lucky enough to have a bountiful fruiting fig tree then do try this recipe and perhaps send some my way...

Fig Frangipane Tart
1 ¼ cups plain flour
120g butter
2 ¼ tablespoons icing sugar
1 ½ tablespoons cold water

2 tablespoons fig jam
115g butter
½ cup raw caster sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
1 ¼ cups almond meal
3 tablespoons plain flour
6-8 fresh figs
2 tablespoons brown sugar

Place butter, flour and icing sugar in a food processor and blitz until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Slowly add water while the food processor is going, stopping when a dough starts to form (you may not need all the water).
Take out the dough and roll on a floured surface, or place baking paper on the bench as I do, and carefully place into a flan or pie dish. Prick with a fork and refrigerate for about 20 minutes.
Bake at 160C (180C if not fan forced) for 15 minutes, then remove from oven and brush the pastry case evenly with fig jam. Allow to cool.
For the filling, mix butter and sugar until pale and creamy. Add eggs, one at a time and the vanilla. Add the almond meal and flour and mix until just combined. Spread onto the pastry case and smooth the top.
Cut the figs in half and dip the flesh side in brown sugar and push them (flesh side up) into the tart filling as desired.
Bake tart at 160C (fan forced) for about 40 minutes until lightly golden, then switch the oven off and allow the tart to rest for 10-15 minutes before removing.
Serve with a generous dollop of fresh cream.

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