A rich pastry, easy to make, but tricky to handle, with a sweet fig and mascarpone filling
For the pastry:
• 225g plain flour
• 125g fridge cold butter
• 90g sugar
• 2 egg yolks
For the filling:
• 10-12 figs
• 2 tablespoons honey
• 6 tablespoons mascarpone cheese
• 150g crème fraîche
• 2 large egg yolks
• 4 tablespoons caster sugar
Enough for a 25cm tart; serves six
1) Put the flour in a large mixing bowl. You can sieve it, but it makes less difference than you have been led to believe.
2) Cut the butter into small chunks and tip into the flour. Rub the butter between your thumbs and fingertips until the mixture looks like breadcrumbs, stir in the sugar and drop in the two egg yolks.
3) Using a table knife or your hands, mix in the eggs. Then use your hands again to bring the whole lot together. You may need a few drops of water but add them carefully. You should end up with a soft ball of dough.
3) Cover with a piece of greaseproof, foil or clingfilm and refrigerate for about an hour.
4) Roll the pastry out on a lightly floured board so that it is large enough to fit a deep 25cm diameter metal tart in.
5) Lift the pastry up with the help of a rolling pin and drape over the tart tin. Gently push the pastry into the corners of the tin and up the sides, patching any holes and tears where necessary. No one will ever know.
6) Prick the pastry case all over with a fork, place a piece of greaseproof paper on top of the pastry, and weight it down with something like beans or rice. Rest the pastry in the fridge while the oven gets to 180C/350F/Gas 4.
7) Cut a deep cross in the top of each fig. Bake the tart case for about twenty-five minutes until it is firm and somewhat dry to touch. It should be the colour of a custard cream.
8) Remove the greaseproof paper and beans. Leave the pastry to cool a little, then place the figs in snugly, squeezing each on as you so do to open it up. Stuff little spoonfuls of mascarpone into the open figs. Drizzle with honey.
9) Mix the crème fraîche with the egg yolks and sugar and pour over the fruit.
10) Bake for 35 minutes until the edges of the pastry have browned slightly and the juices have combined with the creamy bits to give a sort of wobbly custard.
11) Leave to cool and set slightly for fifteen minutes before eating.