The idea for these little tarts comes from the delightful southern town of Uzès. At dinner one night, I had a fig tart and was intrigued by the fact that it had this delicious moelleux texture in the centre. On leaving, I asked for the recipe and was told, sorry, they bought it in. Sadly, this happens so much in French restaurants – the cost of staff I’m afraid. What I took to be subtlety was probably simply that the tart had been cooked from frozen and was still slightly underdone in the centre. This is a proper version and quite delicious. I favour crème fraiche with these.
- 170g plain flour, plus extra for rolling
- 100g cold unsalted
- butter, cubed
- Pinch of salt
- 1 egg yolk
- 1–2 tbsp ice-cold water
- 100g butter, at room
- 100g caster sugar
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 1/2 tsp almond extract
- 100g ground almonds
- 9 figs, quartered
- 1 tbsp flaked almonds
- 1 tsp icing sugar
- 6 tbsp crème fraiche
For the pastry, put the flour, butter and salt in a food processor and pulse until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Transfer to a bowl and add the egg yolk mixed with a tablespoon of cold water to make a smooth but not sticky dough. Add the extra water if required.
Put the dough on a floured work surface, roll it out and line 6 loose-bottomed 10–12cm tartlet tins. Chill for about 30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 200°C.
Line each tin with a circle of baking parchment or foil, add baking beans and bake blind for 10 minutes. Remove the beans and paper, then put the tins back in the oven for a further 5 minutes. Turn the oven down to 190°C.
While the pastry cases are cooking make the frangipane. Beat the butter and sugar together in a bowl until you have a smooth paste. Gradually whisk in the eggs and almond extract, then stir in the ground almonds and mix well. Divide the mixture between the pastry cases and arrange 6 fig wedges on top of each tart. Scatter with some of the flaked almonds and bake for 20–25 minutes until golden. Dust with a little icing sugar and serve warm or at room temperature with some crème fraiche.
Extracted from Rick Stein’s Secret France (BBC Books, £26). Photography by James Murphy.