Monday, 30 December 2013

Fresh Fig Frangipane Tart... and a recipe for Fig Jam

Like many people in this country, my first taste experience of figs was of the dried variety as used in Fig Roll biscuits. Whilst I have a certain fondness for the dried version courtesy of their inclusion in these biscuits, nothing compares to the taste of fresh figs, which I must admit I first tasted well into my twenties!

There is just something so sensual, exotic and almost naughty about fresh figs. Their almost “meaty” and heady fruitiness works equally well in a range of both savoury and sweet dishes. They can be expensive to buy, but when used in a dish like this, a little goes a long way.
 
I was lucky this year and managed to get my hands on a crate of them at a fairly reasonable price and wanting to preserve their flavour and use them before they spoiled and began to rot (they have a fairly short shelf-life), I made a fig jam. I was delighted with how it turned out.
 
This is a fairly basic frangipane tart but it uses the figs to good effect and includes a layer of the fig jam as well as some of the fresh figs. I have halved the figs and displayed them cut side uppermost in the moist almond frangipane to show off their beautiful colours and shape.
 
I am really pleased with how this tart turned out - it is truly delicious and one that you will love if, like me, you like figs.
 

Ingredients:

Fig jam:
1.5kg fresh figs
750g jam sugar (sugar with added pectin)
Pastry:
175g plain flour
50g icing sugar
100g butter, cubed
1 egg yolk
Frangipane:
125g butter, softened
125g caster sugar
125g ground almonds
2 large eggs
2tblsp plain flour
1tblsp Amaretto
To finish:
4 fresh figs, cut in half lengthways
3tblsp apricot jam
1tblsp Amaretto

Method:

Make jam:
1. Pick over the figs and discard any that look in any way mouldy.
2. Cut off the stems and place in a large saucepan. Squash the figs with a potato masher, breaking them into a lumpy paste.
3. Put the pan over a low heat and add the sugar and heat, stirring occasionally until the sugar dissolves. Once the sugar has dissolved, increase the heat and bring the mixture to as boil. Allow bubble away for 6-9 minutes, stirring regularly until the mixture is thick.
4. The jam is ready once it reaches 105C on a sugar thermometer or when a spoonful of its sets on a chilled plate. When it reaches this point, remove from the heat and ladle into 4-5 sterilised 350ml jars. Cover and store for up to six months in a cool dark cupboard. Refrigerate after opening.
Make pastry:
5. Sieve the flour and icing sugar together into a large bowl. Add the diced butter and using your fingertips, rub into the flour and icing sugar until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs.
6. Make a well in the centre and add the egg yolk and a tablespoon of water and mix using a fork to bring everything together and form a dough. Turn out on to a lightly floured work surface and knead briefly and form into a ball. Wrap in cling-film and place in the refrigerator to rest for about half an hour.
Make the frangipane:
7. Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Gradually beat in the eggs and then fold in the ground almonds and flour. Finally, mix through the Amaretto.
To finish:
8. Preheat oven to 190C/Fan Oven 170C/Gas Mark 5. Roll out pastry dough thinly and use to line the base and sides of a 35cm x 10.5cm x 2.5cm fluted, loose-based oblong tart tin.
Spread a couple of tablespoons of fig jam in a thin layer over the pastry base.
9. Next spoon the frangipane mixture and spread out evenly to the pastry edges to cover the fig jam completely.
10. Slice the fresh figs in half lengthways and press into the top of the frangipane with the cut side uppermost.
11. Place the tin on a baking tray and bake in the preheated oven for 45 minutes until the frangipane filling is just set.
12. Remove from the oven and allow to cool. Heat the apricot jam with the Amaretto and sieve to get rid of any lumps, Use a pastry brush to brush the hot jam over the tart to glaze.
 
Serves 6.