Fig Tarte Tatin
My friend Stéphanie, who lives in Burgundy, France, replied to my post about fresh figs, saying that her friend had coincidentally made a Tarte Tatin aux Figues the night before. Fast forward almost a month later to Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, a time when we dip apples in honey and have new fruits like pomegranates, persimmons and figs on our tables. Stéphanie got the recipe from her friend, Marlene, who now lives in Istanbul, and was born to a German mother and an Italian father. I was intrigued by her story – and by the tart! Made with a light pastry crust using powdered sugar, and fresh figs baked in a honey caramel, this dessert was perfect for the holiday, overflowing with symbolism. The holiday was really a perfect excuse for me to try Marlene’s recipe too!
Finding big, fresh, plump figs was a bit more difficult in New York City than just hopping over to my local market in Zürich. After being turned down at many of the food markets around town, even including the famed Union Square Greenmarket, I was finally successful at Eli’s on the Upper East Side.Not quite the large plump figs I was hoping to grace the top of my tart, the small black mission figs they had on hand would do just fine.I can say now that I’d make the tart again any day using these small beauties. They cook down to a syrupy sweetness and make for a gorgeous presentation.
Armed with 2 pounds of figs and a just few simple ingredients (sugar, butter, honey and an egg), I was ready. The recipe below (with photos) is my adapted version of Marlene’s, and you can further adapt it to what you have at home.Perhaps you’d like to play with different flavored honeys.Or maybe you prefer larger varieties of figs; in which case, just be sure to quarter them instead of halving the smaller ones as I did.
I think that I have found the perfect addition to my holiday table.I’ve also found a stunning end to any meal during fig season.Thanks Marlene and Stéphanie!
Fig Tarte Tatin
Adapted from recipe by Marlene BrunFor the Pastry 1 cup + 1 Tbsp (150 g) flour 1/3 cup (40 g) powdered sugar ½ cup (100 g) butter cut up in small pieces 1 egg yolk For the Topping 2 pounds of fresh black mission figs, washed, stems removed and sliced vertically ¼ cup (50 g) butter 6 Tbsp honey
Prepare the tart crust: mix the flour, sugar and butter together with your fingers until it resembles crumbs.Add the egg yolk, and if needed, a touch of cold water to be able to work it together.Form a ball with the dough and put it in plastic wrap. Leave in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.
In the meantime, preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (180 degrees Celsius). Heat the butter and the honey in a tart pan/baking dish/ovenproof sauté pan to create a light caramel (5-10 minutes).Place the fig quarters cut side down in the caramel, in any pattern you like, the prettier the better as this will be the top of your tart in the end.Use as many as you need to fill the pan.Bake for 10 minutes, and remove from oven.
Take the pastry dough out of the refrigerator and roll out so it is just larger than your pan.To avoid the dough sticking to your rolling pin (or wine bottle as I didn’t have my rolling pin with me) and having to add flour, you can simply place the dough between two sheets of wax paper when rolling.Lay the pastry on top of the figs, tucking it in to the corners, and covering holes, fitting pastry like a puzzle. It does not have to be perfect or beautiful, remember – it’s a Tatin, this will be on the bottom.Bake for 30-40 minutes (depending on your oven) until the crust is golden but not too dark.Let rest for 5 minutes before taking out.
To do so, place a large flat plate on top of the pan, and hold the two tightly together (might require some muscle!). In a quick and sturdy motion, flip over, and give a little shake to release the tart from the pan.If it sticks, you might need to reheat slightly for 1 minute. Slowly lift pan up and hope for the best. Breathe.