Could it be that Adam and Eve were banished to earth over figs and not apples ? Under the deceptively simple skin , figs pack beautiful colors, taste and texture . Easy to imagine being intrigued by something like this. This pastry is made with fresh figs and a bit of ginger to add some spice. Serve with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or a squirt of whipped cream for those with sweet tooth or with a cup of Irish coffee .. either way this is a wonderful after dinner desert . After all how bad can a little bit of (healthy !!!) temptation after dinner be?.
The recipe is fairly simple . A pâte sablée inspired pastry crust , fresh figs and a dusting of warm ginger and brown sugar . As it bakes the pastry crust rises up and melts around the figs holding it in a warm embrace. The pastry crust has to be chilled , but can be made ahead and even frozen for a few months in advance. If freezing defrost it in the fridge before using. This is one recipe with infinite variations – use with different stone fruits , chocolate chips or even caramel chunks .
The pastry crust is easy to make . Sift the flour, one can safely substitute finely ground whole wheat flour up to 50% without noticeable difference in taste, along with salt and baking powder . Cut the chilled butter into chunks and add to the flour mix . Using a pastry cutter or fork cut the butter into the flour till the mixture resembles coarse bread crumbs. Alternately one can add the flour and butter to the blender and pulse a few times .
Add the fine sugar to the mix. Do not substitute powdered sugar or icing sugar . Break and beat the egg well. Pour the beaten egg into the flour mixture and gently stir to moisten all the flour .
Scoop and press everything together into a ball , if needed use your hands . Do not knead the dough. The dough will feel coarse with cracks in between. It is to be expected. Place on a plastic wrap, flatten gently and cover tightly . Refrigerate for at least an hour. Can be kept in the fridge for 1 to 2 days . If planning to keep for longer place the wrapped dough in a freezer bag , remove as much air as possible and freeze .
While the dough is chilling , clean and trim the figs . Halve them lengthwise . Set aside . Line the bottom of an 8″ spring form pan or a tart pan . Grease and dust the sides . Set aside . Mix the brown sugar and ginger a well . When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C).
Take the pastry dough from the refrigerator and leave on the counter for 5 to 10 minutes . It should be cold but when pressed should give a bit . Open the plastic wrap and gently flatten to a 6″ circle . Do not worry about the shape now . Transfer to the prepared pan . Use your fingers or the back of a spoon to flatten the dough into the base of the pan . Do not work too much – an overworked dough will not create the flaky slightly crumbly base.
Arrange the figs on top the pastry ,the cut sides facing up . Sprinkle the brown sugar and ginger mix on top . Place in preheated oven for 30 to 35 minutes till the dough rises to the top and bubbly and a bit brown .
Cool in pan for a few minutes . Remove the sleeve . Cool on a cooling rack for a 10 minutes . Slide off to the serving place . Serve warm or cold .