Of course, I couldn't talk about figs and not share a dessert with you, so here it is. However, as I love to experiment, for this post you'll get a recipe for 3 other tarts, generous aren't I ? OK ! don't answer that, just let's get down to baking. If you were like me about 2 years ago, anytime you see a recipe involving making pastry tarts, you'll say "ah! that's nice" and skip the page. Another thing I noticed back then was that there were numerous recipes on making pastry tarts and of course after trying a few of them I would shout out in the kitchen, "liars !" because it always ended in disaster. Until….. I bought Giorgio Locatelli's Italian compendium on food Made in Italy. I was so intrigued by the book that I had to try at least one recipe out and I went for the frangipane sweet pastry tarts and adapted it to make first a strawberry tart, then a chocolate one and more and more and as they say, the rest is history – I'm not scared of making pastry tarts anymore. OK ! so some digressing but in summary my tasty tip is "find a recipe you are comfortable with and works for you and use it all the time. So the recipe below is based on one in Giorgio Locatelli's book, only that I use caster sugar and not icing sugar. Another tip on pastry, usually the ratio is 2 to 1 between flour and butter, so you need….
225g plain flour
112g unsalted butter
75g caster or icing sugar
Makes 4 small 10cm tarts or one 28cm tart
Using a food processor, mix the butter, flour and sugar together until it resembles crumbs and then pour the egg in until the mixture becomes one dough ball.
Take out and knead for about 1 minute on a clean board. As pastry doesn't like heat prior to baking, place the dough ball inside a freezer bag or wrapped in cling film for at least 1 hour before you need to use it. You can also freeze it for months.
When ready, put the oven on 180C, get your 4 mini non-stick tart tins out or your big 28cm tart tin (the standard size) and roll out the pastry appropriately. So, if using 4 tins, divide the dough into 4 balls and roll out flatly and fit snugly into the buttered tins.
Place back into the fridge if the dough gets warm for another 30 minutes
When ready, stab the bottom of the pastry with a fork about 6 times in different parts and then place a scrunched up baking paper on top of the pastry cases and fill with baking beans or uncooked rice or beans – you need to do this to weigh the pastry down so that it holds it's shape. If you don't, then the pastry will be flat. Don't trust recipes that say freeze and place straight into the oven – the heat will win. after all pastry is just sugar, butter and eggs (almost a cake).
Bake the pastry for about 8 minutes on 180C, after which, you can remove the beans and baking paper and if you want the pastry a bit tougher, bake "blind" but not blindly, watch the pastry and I wouldn't advice more than another five minutes. The main advantage of this is that when you place your "wet" filling inside, it won't damp the pastry and make it wettish as you want crunchy pastry.
I know it looks daunting, but it isn't, trust me and your efforts will be rewarded when you taste them.
The easiest bit is the frangipane, which you make by mixing the following:
100g caster sugar
50g plain flour
100g of ground almonds
Divide the mixture equally between the tarts and bake on 180C for about 15 minutes.
For the fig version, I placed 4 fig halves inside the tin.
For the apple version, I sliced one apple very thinly and used them to cover the top of the tart.
For the lemon curd version, I mixed two heaped dessert spoons of lemon curd with about 2 dessert spoon of the frangipane. Actually this was the tastiest of the lot.
With the above recipe I was able to make 4 tart tins, two of which were apple based. you can serve the tarts with freshly whipped cream, preferably hot, but they are nice cold too.