Tarte chèvre-figues-romarin

Goat cheese tart with figs and rosemary

You can make this savory tart with homemade or store-bought pastry. If you have time I’d recommend homemade, as French pâte brisée adds a scrumptious depth of flavor. It’s easy to make and does not need to be rolled out — you simply pat it into the pan. On the other hand, if you’re in a rush there’s nothing wrong with using a store-bought crust.

For the goat cheese, choose a fresh, soft variety. I used a cheese similar to Petit Billy, which is widely available in France. I believe it is also available in shops in the UK, and if not it can be ordered here. Otherwise use any fresh, moist goat cheese. As for the figs, they should be plump and ripe but not overly so. And as for the rosemary, use a fresh sprig if at all possible.

You will need a 9-inch (22 cm) tart pan. The quantities below will serve four people as a generous starter, or three as a lunch dish.

For the crust:
1/4 lb. (110 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 egg yolk
1 cup (130 g) plus 2 tbsp. flour
pinch of salt
— OR —
1 store-bought savory pie crust

For the filling:
2 eggs
2 tbsp. crème fraîche or heavy cream

1/2 cup (125 ml) milk
7 ounces (200 g) fresh goat cheese
1/4 tsp. salt

freshly ground black pepper
1 sprig fresh rosemary or 1 tsp. dried rosemary
4 fresh figs

Begin with the tart shell.

— If making the dough from scratch, cut the butter into small pieces in a medium bowl. Using two knives, cut in the egg yolk, then the flour and salt. This is easily done. Simply hold the knives parallel to each other and cut in opposite directions.

When the butter is well coated with flour, go in with your hands for the final blending. Mix until the dough is no longer sticky and holds together in a ball. You may need to add a bit more flour. Form a smooth ball and let the dough rest for a minute or two.

Now pat the dough into your tart pan, taking care to ensure there are no cracks. Do not prick the dough. Place in the fridge to cool for at least 10 minutes.

— If using a store-bought crust, lightly butter your tart pan, then unroll the dough over the pan and pat it in gently. To form a fluted edge, trim away most of the excess dough, leaving a 1/2-inch (1 cm) margin. Fold it over itself to form a ‘rope’ at the top of the tart pan. Then pinch it using your thumbs and forefingers, moving around the pan. Do not prick the dough. Refrigerate until ready to use.

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

Now make the filling.

Beat the eggs lightly in a medium bowl. Beat in the cream and milk. Add the goat cheese and beat until well blended. Stir in the salt and grind some pepper over the bowl.

If using fresh rosemary, strip the leaves from the sprig, chop coarsely, measure out 1 loosely pack tablespoon and add to the bowl. If using dried rosemary, add 1 teaspoon.

Rinse the figs, pat dry and slice into quarters.

Remove your tart shell from the fridge. Pour in the creamy filling. Distribute the fig pieces over the filling. Scatter with a few whole rosemary leaves.

Bake for 40-50 minutes, until the filling is set and golden brown. Serve warm, perhaps with a salad of tender leaves alongside.

Serves 4 as a starter, or 3 as a lunch dish.

Note: For easy oven removal, set your tart pan on a larger pie or cake tin before baking. This will ensure that you don’t break the edge of the crust when the tart is done.

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