Saturday, August 14, 2010

Fresh Fig Tart with Citrus Custard

Since the beginning of the summer, I’ve been hoping to lay my hands on some fresh figs. I’m not so keen on them plain, but I love them in baked goods. I had some fig “pizza” – really, something very similar to what’s shown here – when I went to the local farmer’s market with some friends a few of weeks ago, and that only strengthened my resolve to locate these delectable, eminently perishable delights.

I finally stumbled across some figs while on a quest for peaches. Cobbler, I decided, would be just the thing for a late summer afternoon. I never even made it to the stone fruits; these figs were arrayed in luxuriant detail near the market door. I think it was fate.

Of course, I didn’t actually have a recipe for fig pizza or anything like it. When I googled fig pizza, all the recipes that the internet summoned forth were of the savory variety. I’m sure that goat cheese and fig pizza is a fine variation on America’s favorite flatbread, but I wanted a dessert. This fig tart recipe – very slightly adapted from Deborah Madison, and using a pate brise for the crust – is exactly what I was hoping it would be. The custard layer is very light and thin and provides just a hint of sweet, citrusy backdrop for the figs. But it’s the figs that shine, as they ought.

If you’re after more of a traditional custard tart with figs as an accent, you could double or even triple the custard filling.

Fresh Fig Tart with Citrus Custard
Adapted from Deborah Madison

1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
¼ teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons sugar (I used vanilla sugar)
8 tablespoons/1 stick unsalted butter, cut into cubes
2-4 tablespoons ice water (include ½ teaspoon of vanilla if you don’t have vanilla sugar)

12-16 ripe figs, stemmed (but not peeled) and halved or quartered
1 large egg yolk
½ cup sour cream or crème fraiche (I used sour cream)
2 tablespoons lightly packed brown sugar
zest of one orange
a few drops each of vanilla extract and almond extract
1/8 teaspoon salt

For the crust: Whisk the flour, salt, and sugar together in a small bowl. Cut in the butter using a pastry cutter, fork, food processor, or your hands until the fat is in pea-sized lumps. Sprinkle in the ice water and stir gently until the dough comes together. Turn onto a sheet of plastic wrap, mash into a disc, and let chill for at least a half hour.

Roll out dough into a 9” tart pan. Blind bake at 400 for about ten minutes and remove from oven.

For the filling: Preheat oven to 400. Whisk together the sour cream, egg yolk, brown sugar, orange zest, vanilla and almond extract, and salt. Lay the figs into the partially baked tart shell – you can arrange them prettily or just dump them in. Pour the custard around the figs (not over them.  Okay, I poured it over them, and it didn't hurt anything).

Bake for about 30 minutes, or until custard is set and figs are slightly caramelized.

Printable recipe here.


  1. Great recipe, Becky! I love the idea of the gently cooked figs and custard... your research paid off. I just love figs and never eat enough of them... those colors are lovely... remind me of a sunset.

  2. Thanks! I can't believe figs aren't more ubiquitous given how delicious they are. :)