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Saturday, 10 October 2015

Fig and Pistachio Frangipane Tart





I've never actually incorporated figs before into anything I've cooked or baked; I've simply just ate them raw with goats cheese and drizzled with honey. So this is my first ever attempt at baking with figs and I am impressed! There's something so striking about this humble fruit - with it's deep purple skin and vibrant pink flesh, it makes a wonderful addition the autumnal table. Figs have a naturally high sugar content, hence they make a great pairing with equally intense ingredients and flavourings like orange. 


You might question why I've decided to not use the obvious choice of almonds for the frangipane when I just mentioned that strong flavour matches are best with figs, which almonds can most certainly provide! But as I've said before in previous posts: I don't like ground almonds or essence of the sort in cakes. The result of this being that I usually tend to dismiss tarts altogether that contain frangipane or at least try to substitute almonds where I can for vanilla. Though, this can often be a problem when recipes require a large percentage of the frangipane mix to be ground almonds and not flour. 


However, after stumbling upon a recent (well a 2015 March issue to be precise...if that even counts as recent?) of the Guardian's 'Cook' weekend newspaper, my eyes were suddenly opened (courtesy of Ruby Tandoh) to the world of ground pistachios! 



No more beige cakes. Pistachios elevate your baking into greener pastures. All you have to do is grind the nut kernels to a fine meal and then you can fold them through anything from cookie batters to buttercreams. You'll just need a food processor or coffee grinder to blitz them with. 


You might notice in my photos that I've served the tart with a dollop of  crème fraiche. This makes a sharp but creamy accompaniment which makes a healthier alternative to cream.  I've flavoured mine with the remaining orange zest, juice, icing sugar and honey then topped it with a fresh sprig of mint for some colour. 





Fig  and  Pistachio  Frangipane  Tart


Makes an 8 inch tart
Recipe for frangipane adapted from here.


Ingredients

For the pastry:
55g icing sugar
170g plain flour, plus more to dust
110g butter, chopped
½ of a lightly beaten egg

For the filling:
100g unsalted butter, softened
100g caster sugar
2 large eggs
70g pistachio kernels, finely ground
Zest and juice from ½ orange
30g plain flour
½ tsp baking powder
4 ripe figs

For decoration:
A drizzle of clear runny honey
1 tbsp icing sugar
dollop of  crème fraiche
Mint leaves

Method


Preheat the oven to 200°C/ 400°F/ gas 6. To make your pastry, mix the icing sugar and flour together then mix in the butter, either pulse-blending in a food processor or rubbing it in with your fingers until the mixture has the consistency of crumbs. Add the beaten egg and mix the dough until firm and smooth. Wrap in cling film and let it rest for 10 minutes in the freezer. 

Roll out the pastry so that you can line your loose-bottomed tart tin (preferably about 8 inches in diameter), cut off the overhanging pastry and then line with greaseproof paper and baking beans to blind-bake for 15 minutes. Remove the paper and beans, then brush a little beaten egg leftover from your pastry to seal it and bake for a further 6-8 minutes. Once baked, turn down the oven temperature to 180°C/350°F/gas 4. 

Whilst the pastry is baking you can make the filling. Cream together the butter and sugar before adding the eggs, ground pistachio, orange zest and juice. Combine the flour and baking powder in a separate bowl before adding to the wet mixture and fold lightly to combine. 

Cut the stalks off the figs and then slice into halves, half them again keeping them spherical. Fill the baked pastry case with the pistachio frangipane and then evenly distribute the sliced figs on top. Bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes until the frangipane is nicely browned. 

Remove the tart from the oven and then immediately drizzle over about 1-2 tbsp of honey. Leave to cool in the tin for 10 minutes before releasing from the tin. Dust the tart with icing sugar. Serve with a dollop of crème fraiche flavoured with the remaining orange halve, using the zest and a little juice. You could also drizzle over more honey or sweeten with a bit of icing sugar to taste. 

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