I cant really think of a fruit that makes me happier than a fig, these soft frosted purple fruits with their sweet pink centres remind me of childhood holidays in spain. We would pluck them straight from the tree and eat them on the spot, they are that delicious. Their sweetness is complimented best when paired with salt and tart ingredients such as parma or preshutio ham, blue cheese or balsamic vinegar, and perhaps a touch of honey to enhance their natural sweetness
This is the inspiration for my fig, stilton and parma ham tart as follows…..
What you need for the pastry case:
- A 23cm/9″ loose bottomed cake tin- oiled
- to pre-heat your oven to 160C
- 200g plain flour
- 150g butter at room temporature
- chilled water to mix
- 1 egg yolk
- ceramic baking beans or dried pulses such as chick peas to blind bake your pastry case.
Ingredients for the filling:
- 5 ripe figs cut into quarters
- 4 slices of parma ham
- 75g of blue cheese such as Cropwell Bishop stilton
- a 150g pot of mascarpone cheese
- a splash of balsamic vinegar
- 2 whole free range eggs
- black pepper to season
Begin by making your pastry. sift the flour into a mixing bowl and add the butter. Rub the butter and flour together until the mixture has a light breadcrumb texture. Mix in the egg yolk then, if necessary add a little of the water until the mixture comes together to form a dough. Wrap this in cling film and transfer to the fridge to chill for 30-40 minutes.
Once the pastry is chilled lightly flour a work surface and roll out the pastry to a thickness of around 3mm. Make sure your pastry is a nice even thickness throughout so it will bake evenly. Line your prepared tin and trim off the overlapping edge, use a sheet of silicone baking parchment to line the inside of the pastry case them pour in the baking beans/chickpeas to weigh down your pastry. Transfer the lined pastry case to the pre-heated oven and bake for 20-25 minutes until the case is an even light golden brown colour, the case will go back into the oven to cook the filling so it doesn’t want to be too dark.
I have a temperamental oven. It has two heat settings- on full blast or off! So sometimes it bakes the sides of the pastry case faster than it bakes the base. When this happens I take the beans out once the case has set and there is no danger of the sides falling in, this helps me achieve a more even bake.
Once the pastry case is ready transfer to a cooling rack and set aside while you prepare your filling.
In a mixing bowl whisk together the mascarpone and egg yolks until well combined. Add a splash of balsamic vinegar and a good pinch of black pepper- mix again to incorporate. I don’t add salt to this mix as this is provided by the parma ham and stilton.
Remove the baking beans and paper from your pastry base. place the figs and parma ham in the base of the pastry case, arrange them so each slice will include a piece of fig and a piece of ham. Crumble over the blue cheese then pour over the mascarpone and egg mixture, it should be runny enough to find it’s own level but if it needs a little help use a spatular or the back of a spoon to spread the mixture into the corners of the pastry case. Return the tart to the oven and bake for a further 15-20 minutes until the filling is golden and set but still has a slight wobble in the center.
Cool the tart for a few minutes on a wire rack before taking out of the tin. allow the tart to cool to room temperature.
Perfect comfort food for an Autumn lunch served with a light salad, and perhaps a glass of wine?!
What ingredients are you most excited about this season?