All day today, as I walked in and out of the kitchen, the figs sitting in the red bowl caught my attention. I had the best of intentions to put up (as in making jam) those figs, but the pastry dough in the refrigerator had another idea. The dough shared the shelf, along with its shelf life, with a couple of creams; a half-pint of heavy and a bowl of sour. If one of those ingredients had been able to sing out “Bake With Me” the others would have joined the chorus.
Step 1: 1 lb. fresh figs, washed, stemmed and sliced in thirds.
Step 2: In a medium sauté pan, melt 4 oz. unsalted butter. Add 4 oz. light brown sugar. Stir over medium-low heat until sugar melts into butter. Add figs and coat with butter-sugar mixture. Cook 2-3 minutes on medium-low heat.
Step 3: Slowly (TIP: do not add cream all at once-the butter and sugar are hot-hot-hot and will sizzle and spit hot cream right back at you) drizzle 1/4 cup cream over mixture while stirring.
Step 4: Add 1/4 cup sour cream to the mixture and stir to combine. Other options-crème fraîche or Greek yogurt).
Step 5: Crush 1 teaspoon culinary lavender. Add to fig filling. (I confess I have been lavender obsessed for two weeks due to my friend Robrt’s recent posts from Provence.) No lavender? Try cinnamon, rosemary even clove.
Step 6: Pour filling into a 9″ pie pan. Top with 1/4 cup toasted pine nuts. (Life in the Southwest brought on my love for the taste of pine nuts in dessert. Other nuts will do here too, maybe walnuts or maybe slivered almonds? Lightly toasted please).
Cool filling in pan before adding pastry crust. (TIP: Why? Cold butter and shortening in crust + heat from oven = flakey crust. If you place dough over warm steamy filling the butter begins to soften before it hits the oven heat.)
Step 7: Roll pastry dough to 1/8″ thickness. Place dough over cooled filling and tuck sides under. (Yes, its a riff on a Tarte Tatin). Cut vents in dough and brush lightly with cream.
Step 8: Place pan on a lined (parchment, foil or silpat) sheet pan. Bake in 425 F oven for 10-15 minutes, until crust begins to brown lightly. Reduce temperature to 350 F and continue to bake until crust is golden brown and filling is bubbling, about 20- 30 minutes. TIP: Rotate pan front to back half way through baking to ensure even baking.
Step 9: Cool for 10 minutes. Gently run knife between tart and pan. Place a plate or serving dish over top of pan, hold tightly, and flip. Tap the bottom of the pan gently to release.
Step 10: Accompaniments: whipped cream, ice cream, a drizzle of honey or some spendy balsamic syrup.