Every time I pass by fresh figs at Whole Foods I end up grabbing a small carton, knowing that the season won't last much longer. I was thrilled when I saw this recipe for a Fig and Apple Tarte in a recent weekend edition of the Financial Times of London. The recipe is from Rowley Leigh, a regular weekend contributor to FT and a chef at Le Café Anglais in London.
And did I ever love this tarte, as did my husband, even though he grimaced when he saw the bottle of red wine I had pulled from his stash for poaching the figs. (Like I always tell him, the end result is only as good as the wine used in its creation.) This tarte is easy enough to make. The only thing I needed to change was the length of the baking time (longer), and I added about 3 tablespoons of slivered, unsalted butter the last 15 minutes of baking, which I tossed on evenly to the top while it was in the oven. I wasn't seeing enough caramelizing of the apples, even though I generously sprinkled the tarte with powdered (icing) sugar as called for after the first 15 minutes.
I topped the slices of Fig and Apple Tarte with sour cream that I sweetened with some sugar. The only thing that could have made this tarte any better was to have eaten it straight out of the oven, while still warm. We enjoyed it at room temperature after our dinner (and really enjoyed it the next morning for breakfast!).
Fig and Apple 'Tarte Fine'
adapted from a recipe by Rowley Leigh in the Financial Times of London
"Good firm eating apples with high acidity are required here; Coxes or even Granny Smiths can both be used but old varieties such as Lord Lambourne or James Grieve are even better." R.L.
• 8 figs
• 2 tablespoons light brown sugar
• 1 glass red wine (175 ml)
• 1 cinnamon stick
• 4 to 8 apples, depending on size
• Juice of 2 lemons
• 500g puff pastry
• Powdered (icing) sugar
• Calvados or cider brandy
1. Quarter the figs and put them in a small saucepan with the brown sugar, red wine and cinnamon. Bring to a simmer and stew gently for 20 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow to cool. Remove the cinnamon stick and pass the mixture through the liquidiser or mouli-légumes (food processor) without blending it to a paste, leaving some of the texture from the seeds.
2. Peel the apples, halve and core them and place the halves in the juice of the lemons. Cut the apples into thin slices and macerate them again in the lemon juice.
3. Roll out the pastry into either a circle 30 cm (about 11 1/2-inches). Leaving a 1/2-inch border around the perimeter, spread the cold fig paste in an even layer over the surface of the pastry. (I drained off most of the remaining red wine before spreading.) Arrange the apple slices on top, overlapping each slice and overlapping the the rows in turn.
4. Bake the tart in a preheated 375˚F oven for 15 minutes before dusting the surface with a little powdered (icing) sugar. Return to the oven for a further 30 minutes or until the surface is beautifully caramelized and the pastry underneath is completely cooked. (The recipe called for an additional 10 minutes, but in my oven, that was definitely not enough time and my tart was left in for an additional 30 minutes.)
5. If desired, a few drops of Calvados can be sprinkled on the tart just before serving. It is best served hot from the oven with a little double cream.
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