Fig and bay tart

8

Ingredients

For the pastry

  • 1 tsp fennel seeds
  • 1 tsp aniseed
  • 175g plain flour
  • 50g icing sugar
  • Pinch salt
  • 50g ground almonds
  • 125g cold butter, cubed
  • 1 large egg

For the filling

  • 15 whole blanched almonds
  • 350ml double cream
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds, crushed
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 tbsp icing sugar
  • 15 figs
  • 1 tbsp muscovado sugar

Figs are one of the finest fruits of autumn – even eaten fresh off the tree they feel like a decadent grown-up treat. Celebrate the season’s bounty with Jane Baxter’s creamy, not-too-sweet fig and bay tart.

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/320°F/gas mark 3. In a small frying pan lightly toast the blanched almonds until golden. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.
  2. Roughly grind the fennel and aniseed in a food processor before adding the flour, icing sugar, salt and ground almonds. Blitz together to combine before adding the butter and blitzing until the mix resembles breadcrumbs. Finally, add the egg and pulse until the dough starts to come together. If the mixture looks a little dry, add a teaspoon of water and blitz again. Empty onto a lightly-floured work surface and form into a ball. Wrap the pastry in cling film and place in the fridge for at least 20 minutes.
  3. Roll out into a large circle and use to line a 24-25cm loose-bottomed tart shell. Place back in the fridge until chilled and the pastry is firm. Prick the base of the tart with a fork in several places and line with baking parchment and baking beans. Place into the pre=heated oven for 15 minutes, remove the baking parchment and baking beans, and cook for a further 1- minutes or until the pastry is cooked and  golden. Allow to cool.
  4. Heat the double cream with the bay leaf and fennel seeds. Bring up to a simmer and cook gently until the volume has reduced by about a third, stirring occasionally to stop the cream sticking.
  5. Allow the cream to cool until tepid and pass through a sieve before whisking in the beaten egg and icing sugar. Turn the oven up to 180°C/350°F/gas mark 4.
  6. Quarter each fig down to the base but keeping it just in tact (if the figs are too large, cut down from the base). Stuff each fig with an almond and place the stuffed figs in the cooked tart shell. Pour the custard into the gaps between the figs and sprinkle with the muscovado sugar.
  7. Bake for about 45 minutes or until the custard has set. Serve at room temperature.