Karoo Sticky Fig Tart

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Regional recipes develop over time, influenced by factors such as lifestyle, culture, climate, and of course the plentiful availability of produce that flourish in the area. This is precisely why so many recipes from the charming little village of Prince Albert in the heart of the Groot Karoo heroes figs. Recipes such as this delectable fig tart.

Figs thrive in Mediterranean areas with long, hot summers and low availability of water which is exactly why the sunbaked area of Prince Albert has built up such a legendary reputation for producing some of the sweetest and juiciest figs in South Africa.

Follow the winding gravel road that forks out at the cemetery in town and stay on course for about 25 km through the peaks and valleys of the undulating landscape until it takes you into the untouched open veld and down to a trickling stream where the fertile Weltevrede Fig Farm is situated.

This beautiful Karoo farm is where fig trees grow big and get heavy with fruit. Figs ripen quickly and trees are harvested daily, usually over a period of a couple of months. Harvesting starts from December and can last well into autumn until April or May.

Bright and early when all of us are still snoring away the team handpicks plump, almost ripe figs to avoid the midday heat. Unbruised figs are sent to the market whilst less than perfect specimens such as those that have burst open end up made into jam, or are dried in the sun.

This rustic fig tart is a beautiful way to take advantage of the late summer harvest and exactly the kind of full fruity flavour that you yearn for at the end of summer.

As the tart bakes, the figs turn a jammy consistency amplifying the sweet Karoo-sunbaked flavour of the figs. The intoxicating aroma of roasting figs will fill your home and the taste is intensified and divine.

A side of unsweetened whipped cream or crème fraiche is all that’s needed as the figs will carry enough sweetness to please the palate.

Karoo sticky Fig Tart

Pastry

  • 225g plain flour
  • 55g caster sugar (fine)
  • 100g cold unsalted butter, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
  • 60ml iced water
  • 1 egg lightly beaten, for brushing

Filling

  • 130 g unsalted butter, softened
  • 165g caster sugar
  • 1 tablespoon finely grated lemon rind
  • 1 tablespoon finely grated orange rind
  • 1 vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped
  • 3 eggs
  • 180g almond meal
  • 75g plain flour, sifted
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder, sifted
  • 80g flaked almonds
  • 6 – 8 figs, sliced
  • 1 tablespoon white sugar, for sprinkling
  • 90g honey
  • Fresh thyme, sprig (optional)

Method

  1. To make the pastry, place the flour, sugar, and butter in a food processor (or rub between your fingers) until the mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs. Add the vinegar and water and bring together into a ball. Pat down into a disc and wrap in plastic to rest in the fridge for about an hour.
  2. Preheat oven to 200°C. Line a baking tray with baking paper.
  3. Place the butter, sugar, lemon, orange rind, and vanilla seeds in the bowl of an electric mixer and beat for 10–12 minutes, or until light in colour and fluffy.
  4. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the almond meal, flour, and baking powder and mix to combine. Fold in the flaked almonds.
  5. Roll out the pastry between two sheets of baking paper into a roughly 34cm round, about 3mm thick. Spread the almond filling on the rolled-out dough, leaving a 5cm border. Arrange the figs on top of the almond filling in a circular pattern. Press down slightly to secure the fruit.
  6. Fold the 5cm bordered edge of the crust over the figs, pleating the crust to hold in place. Brush the pastry edges with the whisked egg and sprinkle the figs and pastry with the white sugar.
  7. Place the fig tart on the prepared baking tray and bake for 45-50 minutes, or until golden. Remove from the oven and, while still hot, brush with the honey. Sprinkle fresh thyme leaves over the cooling tart (optional, but highly recommended).

Credits:

Co-production and photography Tina-Marié Malherbe & Liezel Norval-Kruger | Ceramic serving plates handmade by Tina-Marié Malherbe

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