During autumn I can always tell when the figs on my tree are ready as the birds seem to be having a party every day. With the amount of bird noise I can hear I'm guessing there's lots of squabbling going on between birdy individuals as to who has the perfect fig.
With this years mild autumn, the figs are huge and some nearly fill the palm of my hand. OK I have little hands - but even so that's pretty big for a fig. The tree I planted about 10 years ago is called Brown Turkey - don't ask why as the figs aren't brown & there aren't any turkeys involved. It seems to cope well with the winter frosts we have here in Canterbury and produces a good crop most years - autumn weather dependent for ripening of the figs which are green to black on the outside and a creamy colour inside.
So before the birds damage all the fruit, I have a bit of a baking frenzy in the kitchen and cook up all sorts of dishes. This recipe is one of my favourites and always generates plenty of ohhhs & ahhhhsss from hungry guests!
FIG & MASCARPONE TART WITH THYME & HONEY
60g unsalted butter - at room temperature
1 tsp finely grated orange zest
¼ c caster sugar
1 egg yolk
⅓ c almond meal
125g unsalted butter - chilled & diced
1 ½ c plain flour
2 tbspn icing sugar
1 egg yolk
2 tbsp cold water
1 egg beaten
4 tsp demerra sugar
4 - 5 figs
250 g mascarpone
1 tbsp icing sugar
1 - 2 tsp thyme leaves
honey - to drizzle
Place butter, zest and sugar in a bowl and beat with a mixer until pale and creamy. Add the egg yolk and almond meal and mix until just combined. Set aside.
Pre heat oven to 180C. Place the butter, flour and icing sugar in a food processor and process until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Add the egg yolk and water and process until mixture begins to form a ball. Turn onto a lightly floured surface and knead until until just smooth.
Roll out the pastry on a sheet of baking paper till approx a 38cm X 26cm rectangle. Slide pastry and baking paper onto a baking tray. Spread the frangipane mixture over the the pastry leaving a 4 cm border. Fold the pastry edges over the frangipane. Brush the pastry edges with beaten egg and sprinkle with demerra sugar. Bake for 25 - 30 mins or until golden. Check regularly and rotate the tray in the oven to get an even colour. Once cooked remove from the oven and cool to room temperature.
Lightly mix the mascarpone and icing sugar in a bowl (don’t over mix). Spead the mixrure over the centre of the tart avoiding the edges. Cut the figs into thin wedges and arrange on the mascarpone. Sprinkle the tart with thyme leaves and drizzle with honey. Cut into wedges and serve immediately.
All Images © Deborah Aspray - Motif Lifestyle Images Ltd 2018