Fig and walnut tart
Figs do grow well in Britain, but their fruit rarely ripens until late summer. If you have access to a tree, take a leaf to infuse in the honey glaze, it gives it an unique and aromatic flavour.
This recipe originally appeared in House & Garden magazine, photo courtesy of Helen Cathcart
For the dough:
200g plain flour, sifted
2tbsp caster sugar
pinch of sea salt
150g cold unsalted butter, cut into small chunks
2-4tbsp ice cold water
For the topping:
40g softened, unsalted butter
4tbsp caster sugar
1 egg yolk
½ tsp vanilla essence
20g unsalted butter
Extra caster sugar for sprinkling
- To make the pastry, put the flour into a bowl with the sugar, salt and the chunks of butter. Cut the butter into the flour, either by hand or using a food processor, until they are the size of small peas.
- Tip the mixture out of the food processor (if you are using one) into a bowl to do the final step by hand. Add the water, a tablespoon at a time (the warmer the outside temperature, the less water is usually needed), mixing and pressing lightly until the dough comes together. It should feel slightly dry, not wet or sticky. Press it into a disc shape, wrap in cling film and rest in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.
- Meanwhile, to make the topping, grind the walnuts in a pestle and mortar or a food processor. Add 40g of the soft butter with the sugar, vanilla and egg yolk and mix to a paste. Set aside at room temperature. Cut the stems from the figs and put them in a small saucepan for later, adding a fig leaf if you have one. Cut all but 2 of the figs into quarters (or sixths if very large). Any bruised or overripe pieces of fruit can also be added to the saucepan with the stems. Finely chop the 2 figs to use for the stuffed crust.
- Preheat the oven to 190°C/fan oven 170°C/mark 5. When the pastry has rested, lay it on a sheet of baking paper and dust with flour. Roll it into a rectangular shape about the thickness of a £1 coin.
- Spread the walnut mixture in a thin layer over the pastry, leaving a gap of at least 5cm around the edge. Arrange the sliced figs in tightly packed rows to cover the walnut mixture and then lay the finely chopped fig around the edge of the pastry and roll the pastry over it, concealing it under the dough.
- Melt the remaining 20g of the butter and brush it all over the dough crust of the tart, then sprinkle liberally with the extra caster sugar – this will give the pastry additional crunch. Place the tart, still on the baking paper, on a baking sheet and bake for about 25-30 minutes, or until the crust has turned golden brown and crisp.
- When the tart is cooked, make the glaze. Add the honey and 1tbsp water to the saucepan with the fig stems and slowly bring to the boil. Turn down the heat and simmer for a minute or so, until you have sticky syrup. Dip a brush into the syrup, avoiding the fig stems, and brush the glaze all over the top of the figs on the tart, but not the pastry. This is best served warm with a spoonful of thick yogurt.