Whilst visiting France in 2007, I attended the La Varenne Cooking School in Burgundy. The local 2 star Michelin chef, Patrick Gautier, spent a day cooking with us. Figs were in season and so he presented a regional favourite, this simple fig tart; it is light and delicious. I added the frangipane to the pastry rounds for added lusciousness.
12 sheets of filo pastry
200g butter, melted
10 – 16 figs, washed and finely sliced
4 tbsp brown sugar
100g butter, softened to room temperature
100g icing sugar, plus extra to dust
1 beaten egg – beat, weigh and halve
1000g ground almonds
3g plain flour
Preheat oven to 200ºC.
Melt butter. Cover the baking tray with baking paper and secure in place with a brush of melted butter in each corner; brush the baking paper with a film of butter and place a sheet of filo on top. Brush the pastry with melted butter and repeat for the next 5 sheets of filo, finishing with the melted butter.
Cut the filo pastry sheets into 8 very neat circles about 10 cm in diameter, removing the triangular pastry pieces in between. These will be sprinkled with sesame seeds to be used as a garnish.
Sprinkle these pastry triangles, sparingly, with sesame seeds and place on an other oven tray; these will be baked at 200ºC for one to 1 ½ minutes, until pale and crisp. Set aside as a garnish.
Make the frangipane. Cream the butter and icing sugar together in a bowl. Break the egg into a bowl; whisk the egg and slowly add it whisking until fully incorporated. Add the ground almonds and flour; fold through until evenly combined. It should be a thick dough. Leave to rest for 5 minutes or store in the fridge until required.
Smooth a thin layer of the frangipane over the centre of each pastry round, to within 1cm of the outside.
Wash and dry the figs carefully and slice finely into rounds, cutting across the fig.
Layer the finely sliced figs on top of the frangipane on the pastry rounds, in very tidy, overlapping circles. Sprinkle with brown sugar to caramelise the figs when cooking.
Cook at 200ºC for about 5 minutes; check as you go – for the sesame brittles – 1–1 ½ minutes.
The figs should be luscious and the pastry crispy.
Sprinkle with some icing sugar and serve with the poached figs, ice cream or mascarpone cream or yogurt, and with the sesame crisps.
Variation: You may use 500g of puff pastry instead of the filo pastry. Roll it out thinly on a lightly floured board to about 3mm thick. And cut out the rounds as above. Score a 1cm border inside the edge of each circle, ensuring you do not cut right through the pastry. Lift the pastry circles onto a large baking tray and glaze the border with the egg yolk. Continue as above with the frangipane and the figs. Cook in a preheated 200ºC oven for about 20 minutes.