I purchased the most wonderful farm, fresh figs on the way home from our holiday – some for myself and some for my sister. So thrilled I was with my purchase that I sat smugly in the car all the way home with a silly grin on my face. You see, living the hot, tropical climate of North Queensland we eat mountains of mangos, lychees, bananas, snake beans and other tropical fruit and vegetables but cooler climate foods are only generally available at supermarkets and grocery stores. Often they have travelled from all of the country and are not worth the price you have to pay. However, three farmers on the Atherton Tablelands have recently branched out into figs with great results. The Tablelands being much cooler than the coast are able to grow many different types of foods.
Once home with my wonderful produce, I pondered my choices and immediately decided to caramelize my figs. These were wonderful with rich vanilla icecream – so luscious!But lets take it one step further and produce a “tarte tartin”. Now, I know the purists will lament that this is not a true “tarte tartin” and sure, the lack of puff pastry certainly attests to the fact. However, preparing home made puff pastry in our tropical heat is only for the very brave! So, ahead we go with a very short buttery pastry that melts in your mouth and what ever it is, I can guarantee that it is devine! You might like to try it.
Melt 60g butter and 90g brown sugar in a small frying pan. Once it’s bubbling cook over medium heat 5 minutes. Arrange about 600g halved figs in one layer in the pan. Cook for 10 minutes turning once during that time. Remove the figs to an 20cm pie plate cut side down. The figs should still be holding their shape but have started to soften and their juices should be released. Reduce the sauce to thicken. It should only take 5 or 10 minutes.
Pour the sauce over the figs. Don’t they look like shiny golden, brown jewels?
Now make the pastry. Take 250g plain flour and 60g castor sugar, rub in 185g butter or process in the food processor until the mixture looks crumbly. Stir in 1 beaten egg. Roll out larger than your pie plate so you can tuck the sides in. Then chill the pastry for 15minutes. Lay the pastry over the figs like a blanket. Now this is rustic. It’s not meant to look perfect. Tuck it in and don’t worry too much. Bake at 200C for 15 minutes then lower to 18oC for 10 minutes until the pastry is nicely browned.
Allow your tarte tartin to cool for about 5 or 10 minutes then carefully take a large flat plate place it over the pie dish and invert the tarte tartin onto your plate.
Voila`! There you have it – a Fig “Tarte Tartin” with melt-in-your-mouth pastry and sweet, delicious figs nestled in sticky caramel sauce. A perfect way to honour this special, ancient fruit.
Now, what did my sister produce with her cache of figs?
Fig and Chocolate sauce with hint of cloves and all the flavour and richness that you would expect from such a combination. The recipe? Well, that’s her secret!