I’ve only realised how delightful figs are in the past 18 months or so.
I never used to trust figs because they’re so squidgy and unusually coloured and lacking a core. It’s kind of funny, because those things now make them perfect fodder for my baking. They’re downright beautiful – I searched Pinterest for recipe inspiration and ended up “oohing” and “aahing” at how photogenic such an unassuming fruit could be.
They’re adorable little sacks of beauty.
Figs can be pretty expensive in Sydney, but I found a pack on special (yay!) I wanted to keep the figs as close to natural as possible and pick other flavours that would highlight their sweetness. Vanilla and blueberry make perfect partners in crime for fig.
The great thing about these tarts is that they are a perfect “grown up” option for Easter. If you’re not a big fan of chocolate eggs (I don’t understand you, but I do know you exist), a humble tart like this is a great alternative for an Easter treat. These little tarts are completely customisable – top them with whatever you want! I
Fig and blueberry tart
- 2 cups plain flour
- 135g butter
- ½ cup sugar
- 4 egg yolks
- 3 tbsp water
Vanilla crème patissiere
- 2 egg yolks
- 6 tbsp corn flour
- ¼ cup sugar
- 2 cups milk
- 4 tbsp butter
- 1 ½ tsp vanilla paste (or vanilla extract)
Rub together your plain flour and butter until they resemble bread crumbs. Add in the sugar and mix, then mix in the egg yolks. Make sure you mix thoroughly so that you don’t have mottled pastry. Add in the water, one tablespoon at a time – it may take slightly more or less than three tablespoons to achieve a cohesive dough.
Press your dough together in a ball, cover in cling wrap and refrigerate for 15 mins.
Preheat your oven to 200°C and grab your dough from the fridge. Grease a 12 hole cupcake tin. Roll out your chilled dough to 4-5mm thickness and use a scone cutter to cute circles big enough to fit in the cupcake tin and create a small edge.
Prick each tart with a fork and pop them into the oven for 15 minutes.
While the tarts are in the oven, make a start on the crème patissiere. Bring the milk, butter and vanilla to a boil in a medium saucepan. Make sure you stir the mixture constantly to avoid burning the milk. Once it’s come to a boil, turn off the heat and set the mixture to one side.
Mix the egg yolks with the sugar and cornflour in a large bowl until you have a thick paste. This mixture does the same job that store-bought custard powder does. Grab your hot milk and pour it into the egg mixture in small increments (this tempers the mixture and ensures that it won’t separate later, if you pour all the hot milk in at once, you risk burning or cooking the egg mixture), mixing well after each addition.
Once all of the milk is mixed in, you should have a warm, silky mixture. Pour it back into the milk pan and whisk it over a very low heat. Timing is crucial at this point, because you want to thicken the mixture. Whisking constantly to encourage air into the mixture, make sure you pay attention to the texture of the mixture – once the mixture reaches the consistency of soft serve ice cream, take it off the heat and keep whisking. If you leave it on the heat any longer, it will over-cook and start to look like scrambled eggs!* The residual heat in the mixture will cook the crème patissiere further, so whisk for a good five minutes before spooning it into the tart cases.
Set in the fridge for ten minutes to cool, then top with whatever Easter-appropriate toppings you like, get creative. If you prefer Easter eggs or chocolate and blueberries on your tarts, try that instead – they’ll still look great and taste delicious!
*If you do happen to over-cook the mixture, add a generous dash cold milk and whisk into the mixture until you achieve a smooth crème patissiere.
Completely unrelated to figs or tarts, here is a gratuitous photo of Norman napping. He got so impatient of waiting for the crumbs as I baked the pastry shells that he snuck up onto the lounge and had a sneak sleep.