I cannot say the rainy weather we are experiencing this week is filling me with the joys of summer, but picking the juicy ripe figs out the garden every morning most certainly is! We planted the fig tree ‘brown turkey’ about ten years ago in a sunny position against a south facing wall and year on year it produces ripe, soft and heavy in the hand bent necked fruit.
When we planted the fig tree, the roots got contained with paving slabs. The hole was dug in front of the wall about 2ft by 2 ft deep and 2 ft deep, lining the three sides with the paving slabs. Chucked in some manure, covered back in with the soil and well watered.
When the leaves have dropped, the remaining hard figs (not the tiny pea size fruit) that are still clinging onto the branches get picked off. Sounds harsh but these hard unripe figs will not be your fig crop for the following summer. The fig tree does get a prune in the spring, but just enough so that it does not take over the path.
Figs, figs the mythical fruit, steeped in history and packed with nutritional goodness. Figs are delicious eaten fresh, but are also damn good in this frangipane, blackberry and filo pastry encased tart.
If preferred you can put the ground almonds, sugar, eggs, flour, vanilla essence, lemon zest, lemon juice, milk, butter (not the melted butter) into a food processor and whizz briefly to combine the almond mixture.
To make your own ground almonds just blitz up some blanched whole almonds in a food processor.
In the first testing of this recipe, I used six sheets of filo pastry for the base, but it did not cook all the way through. Retested with four sheets of filo and preheated a baking sheet for the tart tin to sit on when ready to bake. The results were much improved, lovely crisp pastry on the base and not a ‘soggy bottom’ in sight!
For best results, take the pastry out of the fridge about 20 minutes before using as this makes it much more supple and less likely to crack or break when handling. To avoid drying out, filo pastry must always be wrapped before use. Just wrap up the unused filo pastry and put into the freezer for another time. It won’t be long until you are making this tart again!
- 2 sheets filo pastry, cut in half to form squares (used Jus - Rol filo sheets)
- 1 tbsp butter, melted
- 100g butter, room temp
- 100g caster sugar
- 1 heaped tbsp self raising flour
- 2 medium free range eggs, beaten
- 1 tsp vanilla essence
- finely grated zest of 1 lemon and the juice of half a lemon
- 1 tbsp milk
- 6-7 large fresh ripe figs, cut into quarters
- 100g fresh blackberries
- runny honey
- Preheat the oven to 180℃ / Gas mark 4
- Put a baking sheet into the oven to heat up.
- Brush the base and sides of a 28cm loose based tart tin with some of the melted butter.
- Line the base and the sides of the tart tin with the filo sheets, using one sheet at a time in a petal formation, brushing each filo sheet as you go with the melted butter and crumpling in the edges to form the sides of the pastry base.
- Beat the butter and sugar together until fluffy.
- Add the almond essence, lemon zest, lemon juice and flour,stir to combine.
- Gradually add the beaten egg and ground almonds, mixing well and stir in the milk.
- Spoon the mixture over the filo prepared base, arrange the figs and blackberries on the top and drizzle with a little runny honey.
- Bake in the middle of the pre heated oven for 25-30 mins or until risen and golden.
- Serve warm with a dollop of thick cream, creme fraiche, vanilla ice cream or natural yoghurt.
The fresh figs and blackberries positioned (close together they reduce in size as they cook) onto the top of the frangipane mixture. Just before going into the oven drizzle over a little runny honey, this brings out the unique flavour of the baked figs.
Rubus fruticosus sounds like it could be the name of a wizard from the Harry Potter books rather than the Latin name for the common blackberry. Probably the most foraged fruit in the British Isles. Blackberries are abundant in the hedgerows from August to November and calling out to be picked and cooked into something delicious; blackberry and apple pie, blackberry and apple jam, blackberry vinegar, blackberry syrup and my all time favourite pudding blackberry and apple crumble.
Picking blackberries as a child was my introduction to the world of foraging. My passion for foraging has continued to this day, I still get excited at all of the foods that can be discovered in the wild and at the thoughts of turning them into something delicious to eat.
I really hope you make this tasty tart with fabulous fresh figs, foraged blackberries and using the filo pastry for the base makes it a quick and easy show stopper pudding for any occasion. When the figs and blackberries have waved us good bye replace them with any seasonal soft fruit, apricots, plums, nectarines , peaches or poached pears.
Happy growing, picking, foraging, baking and eating!