This tart is my way of saying goodbye to summer. I am always a bit sad when the summer leaves and September rains bring the cold and grayish autumn days. Everything is better about summer-the long and sunny days, the variety of fresh fruits and vegetables, vacations to switch off and recharge, the golden beaches in my hometown and swimming in the sea…and so many other fun things 🙂 Well, I’ve already come to terms with the fact that it cannot last forever but wanted to give myself a last feel of summer gorgeousness. While picking the last figs off the tree in my garden I knew I will have to give them a good treat…something like complimenting their luscious sweetness with a flaky crust and a delicate pastry cream. Fresh figs are a thing of beauty aren’t they?!
For the crust:
3 cups plain flour
3 tablespoons sugar
125 g unsalted butter, chilled and cut into small pieces
50 g margarine, chilled and cut into small pieces
6 tablespoons ice water
A pinch of salt
For the pastry cream:
3 large egg yolks
1/4 cup sugar
1/8 cup cornstarch
1 1/2 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
For the figs topping:
About 20 figs, halved
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 tablespoons brown sugar
Put the flour, sugar and salt in a large bowl and whisk to combine. Add the butter and margarine and mix with your hands until the mixture resembles coarse meal. To do this you can use a food processor, if you have one. I don’t so I pretty much rely on my hands :-). Gradually add the ice water (fill a cup with water and add ice cubes) and mix until moist clumps form. If the dough needs more water, add a tablespoons or two. Turn the dough out onto your work surface and form into a ball. Flatten it into a disk, wrap in plastic wrap and chill for 2 hours.
In the meantime, whisk together the egg yolks, half of the sugar, all of the cornstarch, half of the milk and set aside. In a saucepan combine the remaining milk and sugar, vanilla extract and lemon zest and bring to a simmer. Gradually pour the milk, whisking constantly, into the egg mixture to temper it. Strain the custard mixture back to the saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat.Boil for 10-15 seconds whisking constantly to get a pudding-like consistency. When done whisk in the butter. Cover the saucepan with plastic wrap and let it chill for an hour.
Lightly flour your work surface and roll the dough to a 40 cm round, about 0.35 cm thick. Using your rolling pin place the dough into a 30 cm tart pan and trim the excess dough so that it fits slightly above the rim of the pan.
Preheat your oven to 200 C. Spread the chilled pastry cream over the pie shell and arrange the halved figs on top.
Brush the figs with melted butter and sprinkle with brown sugar. Bake for about 45-50 minutes or until the pastry is cooked through and the figs are caramelized. Let the tart cool before serving.
If you are into flaky crusts, topped with glazed fruits you will love this! A true summer treat!