Before the last of the season’s lush fresh figs disappear from the markets, I wanted to share one more “figgy” recipe with you. This Fresh Fig Tart with Orange Flower Custard is one of my favorites. The custard is light and creamy, thanks to the addition of crème fraîche, and subtly laced with the heady, floral scent of orange flower water. For the crust, I like to use a variation of Dorie’s Sweet Tart Dough, swapping out some of the regular flour with almond flour. I love the flavor and slightly crumbly texture of this crust, and I think it pairs really well with the earthy flavors of the figs and orange flower water. And, I also love that it can simply be pressed into the tart pan, eliminating the need for rolling. That alone shaves off a couple of hours in prep time. In fact, everything about this tart is simple and casual – with a side order of elegant.
As I mentioned, the custard filling for this tart is made with crème fraîche. It’s not at all what I would consider a traditional custard. Aside from the inclusion of the crème fraîche, this version only requires two egg yolks, as opposed to the several in most other recipes. Not only that, but this custard base is simply whizzed up in a blender before being poured into the tart shell. How easy is that? There is no cooking, tempering or thickening involved, which means less chance for anything going wrong. It also means a lighter, brighter filling that accentuates the flavor of the fresh figs, instead of overtaking it.
Any variety of figs will work in this tart, but I decided to go with a combination of inky, black mission and muted chartreuse kadota figs. I find that mission figs are juicy and meaty, while kadotas have a more delicate flavor and texture. The contrast is nice. They also look very pretty lying side by side together in the tart.
While whipping up the dough for this tart takes very little time and effort, you can certainly use a store bought crust if you prefer. But, unless you live in France, where you can buy fabulous, all butter, premade tart shells at le supermarché, I urge you to try your hand ant making this one. It’s not only easy, but it just tastes better.
So, before your thoughts begin turning to apples and pumpkins and other Autumnal delights, treat yourself to this lovely fresh fig tart – while you still can.
Fresh Fig Tart with Orange Flower Custard
adapted from Deborah Madison via Fine Cooking
- 1 partially baked 10-inch Sweet Almond Tart Crust (recipe follows)
- 14 to 18 ripe medium-sized figs
- 2 large egg yolks
- 1 cup crème fraîche
- 1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon orange flower water (If you can’t find orange flower water, substitute 1 teaspoon orange zest.)
- Preheat the oven to 400 F.
- Cut the stems off the figs and slice each in half. Arrange the figs, cut side up, on the tart shell. Set aside while you make the custard filling.
- Combine the egg yolks, crème fraîche, brown sugar, and orange flower water together in a blender and whizz until completely smooth. Carefully pour the custard in the tart shell around, but not over the figs. If you get a few drips on the figs, it’s not the end of the world.
- Bake the tart on a foil-lined baking sheet until the custard is lightly colored and set, about 30 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Makes one 10-inch tart.
Sweet Almond Tart Dough
adapted from Dorie Greenspan
- 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup almond flour
- 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 9 tablespoons (1 stick plus 1 tablespoon or 4 1/2 ounces) very cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
- 1 large egg yolk
- Butter a 10-inch tart pan.
- Place the flour, almond flour, confectioners’ sugar and salt in the bowl of a food processor and pulse a couple of times to combine. Scatter the pieces of butter over the dry ingredients and pulse until the butter is cut in coarsely. You’ll have pieces the size of oatmeal flakes and some pea-size pieces. Stir the egg, just to break it up, and add it a little at a time, pulsing after each addition. Then, process in long pulses – about 10 seconds each – until the dough, forms big clumps and curds. When it reaches this stage, turn the dough out onto a work surface. Lightly knead the dough just to incorporate any dry ingredients that might have escaped mixing. At this point, you can either press the dough into your tart pan or chill the dough and roll it out later.
- To make a press-in crust: Butter the tart pan and press the dough evenly along the bottom and up the sides of the pan. Don’t be stingy – you want a crust with a little heft because you want to be able to both taste and feel it. Also, don’t be too heavy-handed – you want to press the crust in so that the pieces cling to one another and knit together when baked, but you don’t want to press so hard that the crust loses its crumbly texture. Freeze the crust for at least 30 minutes, before baking.
- To make a rolled-out crust: Form the dough into a ball and flatten it into a disk. Wrap the disk of dough with plastic wrap and chill it for at least 2 hours or for up to 1 day. Once chilled, remove the dough from the fridge and slip it in between two sheets of plastic wrap. Roll the dough out evenly into a circle or rectangle approximately 2 inches larger than the size of your pan, rotating it and turning it over frequently. Lift the plastic wrap often, so that it doesn’t roll into the dough and form creases. If the dough seems too soft at this point, put it back in the fridge for about 20 minutes to firm up again. Then, carefully fit the dough into and up the sides of the buttered tart pan. Trim any excess dough that hangs over the edges so that it’s even with the pan. Freeze the crust for at least 30 minutes, preferably longer, before baking.
- To partially bake the crust: Preheat the oven to 375 F. Butter the shiny side of a piece of aluminum foil and fit the foil tightly against the crust. Bake the crust for 25 minutes, then carefully remove the foil. If the crust has puffed, press it down gently with the back of a spoon. Bake for another 3 to 5 minutes, then transfer the crust to a cooling rack; Keep the crust in the tart pan until ready to use.