Our generous fig tree has given us so many figs this year they’ve been finding their way into all our baking!
Fig trees are amazing; they spread out wide with their beautiful glossy leaves and smell wonderfully sweet and fragrant when Summer sun shines down on the ripening fruit. Figs are such gorgeous fruits, too. They can be small or large, yellow, brown, greenish or purple when ripe depending on the variety. There’s nothing that says Mediterranean Summer Holidays quite so definitively as eating freshly-picked and sun-warmed figs for breakfast straight from the tree- although our tree doesn’t tend to ripen its figs until at least October, being in the UK. If you live in Northern Europe or somewhere with a similar climate, try growing the variety Violette de Bordeaux; that’s what our tree is. It’s hardy over frosty Winters and self-pollinating so it doesn’t need the fig wasp in order to fruit. We planted it against a south-facing fence and it produces small-to-medium-sized dark purple fruits with a lovely, mildly fragrant and sweet flavour from mid-Autumn right up to the last couple of weeks in November.
I’ve only made this recipe the one time so far, but it’s the kind of recipe that will give pretty consistent results; the only thing you might want to tweak to your own taste is the amount of maple syrup- if you like it sweeter drizzle over a little more before or halfway through baking, or simply add it to serve. I don’t know how long this tart would keep, as it was eaten up fairly rapidly, but around four days, covered, in the fridge is probably about right. (I did find the pastry got a bit harder after 48 hours though.)
This tart looks impressive garnished with a drizzle of maple syrup, icing sugar and/or something like physalis (which we also grew in our polytunnel this year) yet it is easy to make, especially if you have a high-speed blender for the filling. The only thing you need to remember is to pre-soak your cashews. So without further ado, here’s the recipe:
250g gluten-free plain flour
20g soft light brown sugar
90g coconut oil, grated
cold water to mix (I used around 75ml)
- Mix the flour and sugar together, and rub in the coconut oil with your fingers.
- Use a minimal amount of water to bring the mixture together into a soft (but not sticky) dough. The less water you use, the shorter the pastry will be. If you’re not rolling it out straight away, wrap or cover the dough to prevent it from drying out but don’t chill it; I made this mistake and found it impossible to roll and I had to wait until it armed up before it could be handled.
- Roll the dough into a large circle and press into an oiled loose-bottomed flan dish. If your pastry cracks or breaks don’t worry; just press what you can roll evenly into the bottom of the dish and use you fingers to gently coax it up the sides- that’s actually what I did and it didn’t affect the finished result at all.
- Bake “blind” -I used some dried chickpeas on baking paper on the bottom to stop it bubbling up- for about ten minutes at 200C or until the bottom is hard and set. This will prevent the filling from making the base soggy. Leave to cool.
- Meanwhile, make the filling…
300g (soaked weight; needs about half that for the dry weight) cashews, soaked for at least 3 hours or overnight
125ml maple syrup plus 1-2 tabs to drizzle on top
2 1/2 tsps vanilla essence
150-200ml of the cashew soaking water
- Place everything in a blender until its about the consistency of a thick double cream.
- Pour into the cooled pastry base.
- Next, add the toppings…
about 180g fresh figs (that was 10-12 small homegrown fruits)
about 80g walnut halves
extra maple syrup (see above)
- Halve or quarter your figs, depending on size, and arrange on the filling with the walnuts. Drizzle with maple syrup.
- Bake at 200c for about 20 minutes. The gluten free pastry may not brown like wheat pastry so don’t leave it in too long. If the filling has set and the walnuts are slightly browned it’s ready.
- Leave to cool and serve with more fruit and/ or maple syrup.
If you want to make this for a buffet, you could try making individual tartlets.