Fresh Fig Tart
Serves 6 - 8
With the approach of autumn, Sylvie is in her glory, having fun with the change of seasons and all the autumnal ingredients available at that time. One of her creations for St. Giles is this fig tart. In France, then as now, fig trees can be found in every village and town, and in most back yards or growing over fences, except perhaps in colder areas. I like to think that in the back courtyard of Sylvie’s apartment building lurked a fig tree. The French like to eat seasonally, and in fall figs, walnuts, chestnuts and mushrooms play a starring role in their cooking.
This particular fresh fig tart comes from Rick Stein, a well-known restaurateur and cookbook author from Cornwall, in the UK. He is famously well-traveled, and enjoys trying out recipes from other countries. The measurements for this tart were originally in metric, so I have adapted it as best I can for American cooking measurements.
For pastry, mix flour, salt and butter together with fork or pastry cutter until it resembles breadcrumbs, then stir in sugar. Mix egg yolk and cream together in a small bowl, and add to the flour mixture. Work this in until it comes together to form a dough. On a floured surface, roll out the pastry and use it to line a 10-inch loose-bottomed tart pan (the kind with ruffled sides so you can flute the edges). A non-stick one works best. Use your fingers to gently crimp the pastry to the edges of the pan.
Trim the edges of the pastry so that it is level with the top of the tart pan, cover with cling film and rest it in the freezer for 30 minutes.
Heat oven to 360F. Line the pastry with baking parchment, fill with baking beans or rice and bake blind for 10 minutes. Remove paper and beans. Cook for further 3 minutes. Take out of oven. Lower temperature to 320F.
Soften the mascarpone with the honey in a saucepan over a low heat. Do not allow to boil, just cream gently. Pour into the pastry case, then lay the figs on top, cut side up, narrow ends to the middle. Bake for 30 minutes until just starting to turn golden around the edges. To serve, allow to cool before carefully removing from the pan and cutting.