I somehow never expected to have a garden that would give me figs. To this British-born girl, figs felt exotic – their dark flesh warm with Mediterranean sunshine, and oozing with delicious sweetness. Not at all a fruit I thought I’d be able to grow in Normandy.
A couple of years ago I read about a fig tree specialist, producing trees for our region of northern France, and I bought a tender little sapling. That little tree struggled for the first couple of years. Too cold in winter, simply too young to face the world. But we continued to water and tend it, we talked nicely to it when it looked low, and this year, four years down the line, we are rewarded with a bumper crop of figs that have been giving non-stop since the month of August.
Before you even reach the tree, you can smell its sweet scent in the garden. This year it has doubled in size, threatening to completely hide the small garden shed tucked away behind its fast-developing branches.
But beyond the fragrant leaves, and the bold silhouette, and the fruit in our plates, there is also the additional fruit that we don’t manage to eat, and which we can gift to friends. Arriving with a small basket of figs to a dinner party, is a nice twist on the more conventional hostess gift.
And of course we have also become highly inventive when it comes to eating them. From straight off the tree, to roasted with honey in the oven, to made into jam or maybe best of all served in a cake or tart.
Stacey’s Fig Tart (adapted from NY Times)
Here is a recipe I’ve made a couple of times recently, to great success. It’s from my friend Stacey, whom many of you may know as Stacey Snacks on Instagram and on her blog. She bakes and cooks every day, and her recipes are foolproof which is perfect for me.
So here is Stacey’s fig tart recipe, and if you have a favorite way of using a glut of figs, then I’d love to know.
4 tablespoons butter, melted, plus butter for greasing pan
1 cup natural raw almonds (not blanched) or almond meal
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
3 eggs, beaten
2 tablespoons honey
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
8 ripe figs, stems removed and sliced in half
raw sugar (turbinado for sprinkling on top)
Heat oven to 350ºF degrees.
Butter a 9-inch fluted tart pan or pie pan; set aside.
Put almonds and 1/4 cup sugar in a food processor and grind to a coarse powder. Add flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt; pulse to combine.
In a mixing bowl, whisk together eggs, melted butter, honey and almond extract. Add almond mixture and beat for a minute until batter is just mixed. Pour batter into greased pan.
Remove the stem from each fig and cut in half. Arrange fig halves cut-side up over the batter.
Sprinkle figs with raw sugar and bake for 30 minutes, until golden outside and dry at center when probed with a cake tester.
Stacey recommends leaving the tart to cool in the pan for 20 minutes before removing it.