Tarte aux figues

Fresh fig tart

This tart of fresh figs set on vanilla-flavored cream makes an elegant end to a meal.

Preparation is simple. I’d recommend that you make the pastry yourself — it’s a pâte sablée, or buttery sweet dough — but if you’re in a rush, you can make things even simpler by using a similar readymade dough. For best results, choose figs that are ripe but firm.

You will need a 9-inch (22 cm) tart pan, and the tart serves 4-6.

1 pâte sablée
6 fresh figs
1/2 cup (10 cl) crème fraîche or heavy cream
3 tbsp. sugar, preferably demerara (cassonnade)
1 egg yolk
1 tsp. vanilla sugar or 1/2 tsp. vanilla flavoring
optional: 2 tbsp. powdered sugar (icing sugar, sucre glace)

Begin by making the pâte sablée. Roll it into a ball and let it rest for 10 minutes.

Preheat the oven to gas mark 6 (350 F, 180 C).

Pat the dough into your tart pan, pushing it evenly over the bottom and up the sides. Do not prick the dough. (If using readymade pastry, unroll it and press it into the tart pan, pinching away any excess dough.)

Place a sheet of parchment paper over the dough. To prevent the dough from buckling during pre-baking, cover the parchment paper with a thick layer of dried beans or set an ovenproof weight on top, for example an empty cake pan. Bake for 10 minutes.

While the pastry is baking, you can prepare the figs and cream.

Cut the figs in half and then in thirds (i.e. six slices per fig). Set aside on a plate.

In a medium-sized bowl, combine the cream, egg yolk, 1 tbsp. sugar and the vanilla. Blend with a wire whip.

When the dough has baked for 10 minutes, remove it from the oven, remove the beans or the weight and discard the parchment paper. (You can keep the beans for another use.)

Spread the cream over the bottom of the tart shell. Then arrange the figs in concentric circles, beginning at the outer edge and working towards the middle.

Return the tart to the oven and bake for about 30 minutes, until the cream has set and the crust is golden.

Cool the tart on a wire rack.

Once the tart has cooled, you can decorate it with powdered sugar if you like. Do this while the tart is still on the wire rack. Hold a sieve over the tart, add the powdered sugar and press through with the back of a spoon, moving the sieve around to cover the tart evenly.

Serve warm or at room temperature, as is or with crème fraîche or vanilla ice cream on the side. Serves 4-6.

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