I recently found these beautiful plump figs at the local food market. It's called the Oranjezicht City Farm and it is in Granger Bay. The market is centered on fresh produce from your local farmer that is grown organically and ethically. I make a concerted effort to buy only organic and free range products for my household.
Organic food is something that in recent years has become quite prominent in my life. I feel there has been an awakening within me to know what I’m putting into my body and where it comes from. The food industry is a multi-billion-dollar corporation and the facts are that health and wellness are sacrificed in mass production. I have to ask, how often do you check where your eggs come from and how your beef found its way onto your plate? These are questions we need to ask ourselves. For instance, there are no long-term studies on how the hormones in our milk affect us and our children. Now don't get me wrong, I am not preaching veganism. I'm not even preaching vegetarianism. I am simply saying that arming yourself and your family with knowledge about what we eat will create a healthier life for you and the animals out there.
Now let's get back to my figs and how they transformed into one of the tastiest tarts I have ever baked.
- 15 whole figs, washed
- 30 grams castor sugar
- 2 tablespoons water
- 2 sprigs of fresh thyme, leaves picked
- Zest of one orange
- ¼ cup raw almond
For the short crust pastry
- 125 grams butter
- 100 grams icing sugar
- A pinch of salt
- 255 grams of plain flour
- 1 vanilla pod, scored lengthways and seeds removed
- Zest of ½ a lemon
- 2 large yolks, preferably organic
- 2 tablespoons cold milk or water
For the frangipane
- 275 grams almond flour
- 55 grams plain flour
- 255 grams unsalted butter
- 255 grams castor sugar
- 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
- 1 vanilla pod, scored lengthways and seeds removed (you can also use vanilla paste if you have, just add a teaspoon)
- 1 tablespoon grappa
You have two options when making this. Option one: you can make it in a 28cm-greased tin or options two: in individual tartlets. I chose to make individual ones.
Preheat the oven at 180 degrees Celsius.
To make your pastry, cream together the butter, icing sugar and salt and rub in the flour, vanilla seeds or paste, lemon zest and eggs yolks – you can do this all by hand or you can do it in a food processor. When the mixture looks like coarse bread crumbs you can add the milk or water. Pat and gently work the mixture together until you have a ball of dough, then flour it lightly. Do not over work the pastry or it will become chewy instead of flaky. Wrap in cling film and let it rest in the fridge for at least an hour. Remove it from the fridge, roll it out and line your tart tins or tin. Place in the freezer for an hour.
Remove from freezer and bake the pastry for 12 minutes or until golden brown.
Remove from the oven and turn it down to 170 degrees Celsius.
To make the frangipane, beat together your sugar and butter until light and creamy. Add your almond flour, lightly beaten eggs, vanilla and grappa. Beat until the mixture is smooth. Place the mixture in the fridge for at least a half hour or until mixture is firm.
Remove the stems from the figs. Score them at the top in a cross shape. Using your thumbs push up from the base opening the figs slightly.
Spoon the chilled frangipane mixture into the pastry cases or into the large tart tin, then lightly push the figs into the frangipane with the scored side up. Heat the sugar with the water and drizzle the syrup over the figs. Roughly chop the almonds and sprinkle over the top with the thyme leaves and orange zest.
Bake in the preheated oven for about 40 minutes if you are doing the single big tart and 30 – 35 minutes for the individuals, or until the frangipane mixture has become firm and golden on the outside but still soft in the middle.
Allow cooling for about 30 – 40 minutes.
Serve with a dollop of mascarpone and a sprinkle of cinnamon.