It is fig season; the time when markets are filled with figs of all shapes and sizes, beckoning me to drop cash that I do not have to indulge in the end of summer fruit. I don’t know what it is, there’s just something, well, kind of sexy about them. Maybe it’s the Biblical association: fig leaves were used to clothe the naked Adam and Eve in Genesis and they show up in the Song of Solomon as well, forming in the year of love. Or maybe it’s their Greekness. Greek things are sexy, I guess: togas, beaches, flaming cheese.
Either way, I have a love of figs. I could not help but incorporate them into my latest dinner party. On total improvisation, praying they would turn out okay, I put together plum and fig tarts for my friends. The pastry I must admit was slightly crunchy, I think partially due to a lack of butter (I always try to be healthy, sometimes to a fault), so here I added a bit more to the recipe. But, the figs and plums were delicious, highlighted with a hint of thyme and honey.
Makes 6 tarts
1 cup all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling
1 cup whole wheat flour
3 tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
a pinch of ground ginger
1 1/4 sticks cold, unsalted butter, cut into small chunks
1 egg yolk
2 tablespoons ice water, plus more if needed
Combine the flour, sugar, salt, and spices in a large mixing bowl. Add the butter and mix with a pastry blender or your fingers until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add the egg yolk and ice water and work that in with your hands. (Or do the whole thing in a food processor, pulsing a couple of times to combine the dry ingredients, then pulsing in the butter, and then the egg.) Check the consistency of the dough by squeezing a small amount together between thumb and forefingers: You want there to be just enough moisture to bind the dough so that it holds together without being too wet or sticky. If it’s still crumbly, add a little more ice water, 1 teaspoon at a time. When you get it to the right consistency, shape the dough into 6 disks and wrap it in plastic. Put it in the refrigerator and chill for at least 30 minutes.
3 plums, pitted and sliced
6 figs, cut into 6ths
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon honey
1/2 lemon, juiced
1/4 teaspoon thyme
1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 egg, beaten with a drizzle of water
Vanilla ice cream, for serving
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Move the oven rack to the bottom third of the oven.
On a lightly floured work surface, roll out the dough. Loosely drape the dough round over the rolling pin and transfer to parchment-lined baking sheet. Trim the edges if you want the tart to look more refined (I skipped this part). You should have 6 rounds on two baking sheets.
Toss the fruit with the sugar, thyme, honey, lemon, and cornstarch. Place the fruit in each round, half a plum and a fig in each. Fold up the edges around the fruit, pressing with fingers to seal. Brush with the egg glaze. Bake until the crust is golden brown and the juices are bubbling up through the vents, 40 to 50 minutes. Cover the edges with aluminum foil if they brown too fast. Cool on a rack before serving. Serve with vanilla ice cream.