It is tart week in my household with both sweet and savory tart recipes for yours and my pleasure. Because it is fig season, I am compelled to make something at least once using figs. I love figs. They are a beautiful fruit with its simple pear shape, deep purple color, and a seductive subtle but jammy interior. That rich eggplant purple is one of my favorite colors and I find anything with that color totally irresistible.
Fig and Almond Tart
Several years ago, I discovered this tart recipe on Food Network by Giada De Laurentiis but I thought it was very rich and sweet. Because I wanted to make a fig and almond tart, I decided to give this tart recipe another try with some minor changes. I adapted the tart recipe by reducing the amount of sweetener in the filling, so the sweet flavor does not dominate the fig and almond flavors.
The original recipe calls for 2 tablespoons of sugar in the pie crust, and one tablespoon of sugar plus 2 tablespoons of honey in the mascarpone cheese and almond paste filling. In my opinion, it was too rich, so I reduced the sweetener to only 1 tablespoon of honey in the filling. For me, this minor adjustment made all the difference.
I do like the sweetened pie crust and did not change the amount of sugar in that recipe. However, feel free to adjust the amount of sugar in the crust from 1 to 2 tablespoons (15 – 30 ml). The original recipe calls for 2 tablespoons of sugar and I believe the sweetness in the crust blends the crust with the filling. Otherwise, the strong flour flavor in the crust will compete with the figs and almonds.
My experience baking with almond paste is limited, but what I have learned so far is each brand tastes slightly different for both almond flavor and sweetness. Depending on your brand of almond paste could determine how much sugar you need to add to the filling. Before you begin mixing the filling, taste the almond paste to determine how sweet it is. Then mix it together with the mascarpone cheese and other filling ingredients, then taste again. Add more honey or sugar if you wish. I like the amount of sweetener I have in this fig and almond tart recipe, but if your almond paste is on the less sweet side, you may need more.
For another tart recipe using almond paste, make Almond Cherry and Peach Galette.
Another trick to get more almond flavor without adding extra almond paste is, add a few drops of pure almond extract. Be careful adding the almond extract because it is strong and only use pure almond extract. Imitation almond extract tastes like chemicals and not the real deal, just like imitation vanilla extract.
The most common almond paste brands available are Solo and Odense almond paste. Solo comes in a box or can, and Odense comes in a tube. You want to make sure it is pure or real almond paste. I have used both brands with good results. You will find almond paste in the baking aisle.
Almond paste and marzipan are two different ingredients and not interchangeable. Marzipan is made with almond paste and extra sugar and more egg whites. It is the almond paste that gives marzipan its characteristic almond flavor.
If you are feeling adventurous, you can make your own almond paste.
You want to use figs that are just starting to ripen and getting soft. I used black mission figs, but any type of fig will work in this tart recipe. Stay away from figs that are too soft and mushy. They are over-ripe and do not taste as fresh. I recommend inspecting the figs before you buy them because they often have moldy figs mixed in with the ripe figs. Figs are very perishable and quickly become over-ripe so use them as soon as possible after you buy them.
To store figs, remove them from the plastic container and place them on a paper towel-lined plate in one layer with space between each fig so they can breathe. Cover the figs in plastic wrap. You can keep the figs on the counter for a couple of days, but they will last longer in the refrigerator.
More recipes using figs:
Mascarpone vs Cream Cheese
What is mascarpone cheese? Mascarpone cheese comes from Italy and is similar to cream cheese, but it has a higher milk fat content because it is made with cream. Cream cheese is made in America and by law must have at least 33% milk fat and 55% moisture. Cream cheese also has additives, like gums to give the cheese a thicker appearance. They are not equally interchangeable in a recipe because of the differences in consistency, texture, milk fat percentages, and additives in cream cheese. You will find mascarpone cheese in the cheese department or deli department near the crème fraîche. If possible do not substitute cream cheese for the mascarpone cheese in this tart recipe.
Fig and Almond Tart
- 1 ½ cup 213 g all-purpose flour
- 1 -2 TB (12 - 24 g) sugar
- Zest from one lemon
- 10 TB ( g) unsalted butter, chilled and cut into half-inch (1 cm) pieces
- 3 TB ice water
- 3 ½ oz (101 g) almond paste, room temperature and cut into ½ inch ( 1 cm) pieces
- 1/3 cup (76 g) mascarpone cheese, room temperature
- 1 TB honey
- 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
- Pure almond extract to taste (if needed) a couple of drops
- 12 figs, stems removed and sliced into fourths lengthwise
- 2 tsp of Minced sprigs of Rosemary or Lemon Thyme optional
Make the pie dough
Food Processor Method
Add the flour, sugar, lemon zest, and salt into the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until the mixture is evenly combined. Add the chilled butter cubes and pulse until the mixture looks like large course sand with uneven clumps. Turn on the machine and add the water in a steady stream until large clumps form being careful not to overwork the dough. Tip the mixture onto a clean and lightly floured surface and pat into a disk. Wrap the pie dough with plastic wrap and chill for 1 hour, or up to 2 days.
If making by hand, add the flour sugar, lemon zest, and salt into a large mixing bowl. Whisk together until the ingredients are evenly combined. Add the cubed butter and toss them with your clean hands until coated with flour. Smash the butter with your fingers to mix into the flour until the mixture looks like coarse meal with uneven sizes. Add the ice water and stir with your hands briefly until the dough comes together. Tip the dough onto a clean and lightly floured surface and shape into a flat disk. Wrap the disk with plastic wrap and refrigerate for one hour.
Mix the almond filling
In a clean bowl of a food processor, add the almond paste, mascarpone cheese, honey, and vanilla. Process until a smooth paste is formed. Scrape down the side of the bowl to blend and process again. Make sure there are no clumps of almond paste in the mix. Taste and add a couple of drops of almond extract if you want the filling to have more almond flavor. Go very light with the almond extract because it is very strong.
Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C) with the oven rack in the middle position. Line a large sheet pan with parchment paper and set aside.
Assemble the Tart
Remove the pie dough from the refrigerator and if it is too hard, let it rest at room temperature for a couple of minutes. Remove the plastic wrap and place the dough on a lightly floured and clean work surface. Whack the dough with your rolling pin across the dough to soften it up and start forming a circle. Rotate the dough 180° and whack it again 4 times across the dough. Turn the dough over and repeat.
Roll out the dough with your rolling pin starting at the center of your dough and roll it in one direction away from you. Move the rolling pin around the dough circle and roll out in one direction. Turn the dough over and continue to roll and shape the dough until you have a circle with a 12-inch diameter and is ¼ inch (.5) thick.
Transfer the dough onto your prepared baking sheet by draping the dough over your rolling pin then easing the dough into place.
Spread the almond filling over the dough in an even layer leaving a 2-inch (5 cm) border. Layer the fig slices in concentric circles over the almond filling beginning at the outer rim and working inwards.
Heat the jam for 15 seconds to loosen it up and spread the jam over the figs. You might not use all of the jam, but you want an even layer that is not too thick.
Fold the dough border over the toppings to create an edge. Pleat the border to maintain the circle shape. You can bake the tart right away, but if it took you a while to arrange the tart filling over the dough and you are concerned about the tart expanding and opening up when baking, refrigerate the tart, loosely covered with plastic wrap for 30 minutes or freeze for 15 minutes.
Bake for 40 minutes or until the crust is a golden brown color. Transfer the tart on the sheet pan to a cooling rack and cool for 10 minutes. Loosen the bottom of the tart with a metal spatula or offset spatula and slide the tart off the parchment paper onto your serving platter. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Best eaten the day it is made.
© 2018, Ginger Smith- Lemon Thyme and Ginger. All rights reserved.
In the Hudson Valley, the month of August produces the crown jewels of the summer produce. At last, local tomatoes, corn and peaches are ready for picking. At last. It feels like I waited all summer for this event and now it is peach picking time. I am now ready to taste and cook peaches from every orchard in the Hudson Valley. First baking item on the agenda from this August bounty, is a peach galette.
I love making galettes. There is less pressure making a galette, because simplicity is the appeal. A pie made with a fancy decorative crust is stunning to look at, but I will save those for the holidays. For my day-to-day dessert, galettes fit the bill. There is more fruit to crust ratio in a galette, but it still has a crispy buttery crust to contrast with the tender fruit filling.
For this recipe, I scaled up the preparation a degree to produce a galette with a tender crispy crust with no soggy bottom, and enable the galette to keep its shape. To do this, I chill the galette dough at three different steps. First, I chill the dough right after I make it. Later, I chill the dough after I finish rolling it into a circle. The third and final chill happens after I fill the galette with fruit and shape it. This last step, is not a typical one, nor is it necessary, but it helps the galette keep its shape when baking and creates a flaky crust. Each time the dough is chilled, the gluten in the dough relaxes and the butter stays cold.
Another upgrade is, I added a layer of almond paste to my traditional fruit galette recipe. The almond paste has two purposes, add extra depth of nutty flavor to the peaches, and create a barrier between the fruit and the dough. This protective layer prevents the fruit juices from soaking the crust and making it soggy. There is nothing worse than a soggy bottom galette or pie.
I thinned the almond paste with dark rum so it will spread easily across the dough. Almonds and rum pair perfectly with the peaches and cherries and makes the peach galette have more depth of flavor. The almond paste does not overwhelm the peaches because the rum balances the flavor with notes of caramel and warmth. Look for almond paste in the baking aisle of your grocery store. If you do not like nuts, or are allergic to them, omit the almond paste and baste a layer of egg wash over the crust before you add the fruit.
One last upgrade I added is a trick I learned from The Art of Pie, by Kate McDermott. Before placing the fruit filling over the galette dough, drain the fruit juices into a bowl, then reduce the juice in a sauce pan on the stove. Not only does this step lessen the amount of fruit juices, but it concentrates the flavor as well. Each peach galette I made this summer, the peaches had a lot of juice. I never can tell how much fruit juice there will be. This extra step is not necessary, because the cornstarch will thicken up the juices, but it won’t hurt either.
This summer I learned something new about the different types of peaches. I am a little embarrassed about this discovery, but I always thought the “cling” of cling peaches, is just a name, like a Granny Smith apple. However, I learned “cling” has specific meaning and it’s obvious, duh, and I feel stupid for not realizing this earlier. There are two types of peaches with many variations of each type, cling peaches and free stone peaches. A cling peach, is a peach with its flesh tightly attached to the pit. The peach clings to the stone. A free stone peach, the peach flesh is not attached to the pit. The peach is free from the stone and easy to cut a peach in half and pull it apart. When I read this, I gave myself a whack on the forehead. Duh! Why did I not realize this before?
I always believed when peach flesh sticks to the pit, it means the peach is not completely ripe. Actually, I never heard the name free stone peach until this project. In my defense, it is possible I never ate a free stone peach before, but I would love to find some. Prying the flesh of cling peaches away from their pits is slippery and challenging. I get concerned about cutting my hand with my knife, and/or squish the peaches from gripping them to stay in place.
These additional steps take some time, but they create a delicious peach galette. One that is rich and bright in flavor from the almonds, peaches and cherries, with a crispy all butter crust. Keep these additional steps in your back pocket and use when you wish to up your galette making skills. Time is the unwritten ingredient for this recipe, but it is an important one to make a great crust.
Almond Cherry Peach Galette
- 1 cup 142 g / 5 oz all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup 66 g / 2 1/4 oz whole wheat pastry flour
- 2 TB extra fine sugar castor sugar
- 1 small pinch of Kosher salt
- 6 TB 86 g / 3 oz cold unsalted butter
- 5 TB ice water
Almond Peach Filling
- 3.5 oz 101 g almond paste
- 2 TB dark rum
- 12 raw almonds lightly toasted and finely chopped
- 1 1/2 - 2 lb 750 g - 1 k ripe peaches
- 1/2 cup 110 g granulated sugar
- 2 TB corn starch
- Zest from 1 lemon
- 1 TB fresh squeezed lemon juice
- 1/2 tea fresh grated nutmeg a small pinch if you are using store bought ground nutmeg
- 12 -15 150 g fresh cherries, pitted and sliced in half
- 1 egg beaten
- Course Sugar
- 1 TB butter
Make the pie dough
Cut the butter into small cubes. Place in a small bowl and keep in the refrigerator until needed.
In a medium bowl mix the all-purpose flour and the whole wheat pastry flour together with a fork or whisk, until evenly mixed. Add the salt and sugar, and whisk again until evenly combined.
Add the pieces of butter to the flour and toss the butter lightly with your hands to get the butter coated with flour. Mix the butter into the flour with your hands by smushing the butter between your fingertips. You don't want your hands getting too hot and melt the butter, so handle the butter as quickly as possible. Continue mixing the butter until the mixture looks like course meal with irregular pieces of butter throughout.
Add the ice water to the flour. Start with 3 TB of water and mix carefully with your hands without too much action. If the dough is dry add 2 TB of water and barely mix with your hands until it almost comes together.
Dump the dough onto a clean counter and bring the dough together. Shape into a flat disk, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour or longer. The dough can be made ahead and kept tightly covered in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.
Almond Peach Filling
Pit the cherries and cut in half, then set aside.
In a small bowl, mix the almond paste with the rum until it becomes a spreadable paste. Add the chopped nuts and mix. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside.
Fill a large pot with water and bring to a boil. Make an ice bath. Fill a large bowl with ice cubes and cold water. Set aside near your pot on the stove.
Score the peaches by lightly cutting an X across the bottom end of each peach. Only cut through the skin and not deep into the flesh. Add the peaches to the big pot of just boiling water and cook for one minute. Remove them from the hot water, then add the peaches to the ice water bath to stop the cooking process and cool. Peel off the skin when they are cool enough to handle. If the peaches are ripe, the skin should easily peel off. Make a cut all around the peach to cut it in half. If you have free stone peaches twist the halves and they should easily come apart. If you have cling peaches, cut another slice around the peaches to divide the peach into 4 sections. Carefully slice your knife into the peach and around the pit until a wedge is free. Repeat for the remaining sections. Be very careful removing the pit from cling peaches. Peeled peaches are very slippery and it is easy for your hands or knife to slip. A paring knife with a thin flexible blade is the best tool.
Slice the peaches into 1/4 inch - 1/2 inch (.5 - 1 cm) wedges, and add them to a large mixing bowl.
Add the sugar, lemon juice, lemon zest and grated nutmeg to the peaches and gently toss to get the sugar thoroughly mixed with the peaches. If you find there is a lot of juice, drain the peach juice from the peaches using a fine mesh strainer set over a bowl to collect the juices. Pour the peach juices in a small sauce pan and turn the heat to medium-high on the stove. Return the peaches to their bowl. Reduce the peach juice by half. Add the cornstarch and reduced juice to the peaches and mix. The reduced liquid will harden but that is all right. It will melt in the oven. Set aside.
Putting it altogether
Preheat your oven at 400°F one hour before you want to bake your galette. If you have one, place a baking stone or baking steel on the rack in the middle of the oven. If not place a large sheet pan, rim side down on the oven rack. It will act like a baking stone and create a hot surface for the galette crust to get crisp.
Cover a rimmed sheet pan, large enough to hold a 10-inch (25 cm) galette, with parchment paper. Set aside.
Take the galette dough out of the refrigerator and rest it on the counter for 10 minutes. Lightly sprinkle flour over your clean work surface and unwrap your dough. Lightly flour your rolling pin and give your dough a few good whacks with the pin to soften it up. Turn over the dough and repeat. Repeat whacking the dough several turns to help shape the dough in a circle and thin it out.
Roll the dough into a 12 inch (30.5 cm) circle. Start with the pin across the middle of the dough and roll the pin away from you. Return the pin to the middle and roll the pin towards you. Turn your galette dough 1/8th turn and repeat, rolling the dough, starting each time at the middle of the dough and roll once away, then once toward you. Repeat until you have a circle about 12- inches (30.5 cm) across and 1/4-inch (.33 - .5 cm) thick. You should get a nice shaped circle with this method. If the dough needs thinning and shaping, move your pin over to those areas roll the pin in one direction at a time.
Transfer your finished galette dough to your prepared sheet pan. Place your rolling pin across the middle of your pie dough, and drape the top half of the dough over the pin towards you. Lift the pin and place it across the middle of your sheet pan and arrange the galette dough flat on the baking sheet. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes to an hour.
Assemble the galette. Place the baking sheet with the chilled galette dough on your counter. Spread the prepared almond paste across the middle of the galette dough making a circle about 9 inches (23 cm) across. Add the peaches to the galette dough by one of two methods. One- carefully arrange the peach slices in a circle around the dough, beginning 2-3 inches from the edge of the dough. Make and fill a circle with the peach slices. Make sure you overlap the slices because they will separate while baking. Add the pitted cherries into pockets of the peaches any which way you want. Or, two- add the cherries to the bowl with the peaches and dump the fruit in the center of the galette dough. Smooth the peaches out to make a nice mound over the almond paste.
Fold the edge of the dough over the fruit and pleat and pinch the folds together, creating a nice and neat package.
Chill the galette for 30 minutes, loosely covered with plastic wrap. This will help the galette dough keep its shape. Or, bake right away but the galette might open slightly.
Just before baking, baste the folded galette dough with an egg wash, and sprinkle the dough with the course or granulated sugar. Brush away any loose sugar from the galette on the baking sheet. Scatter pieces of the butter over the peaches and sprinkle with some more sugar.
Place the baking sheet with the galette in the oven and bake for 40 - 45 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown and the juices are vigorously bubbling.
Remove the baking sheet with the galette from the oven and set on a cooling rack to cool. Galettes should be set and completely cooled before eating. This can take a couple of hours. When completely cooled, carefully slide the galette onto your serving plate using the parchment paper to help you. If you have any leakage, run a large spatula or knife, under the galette to loosen any stuck sections.
Serve room temperature.
© 2017 – 2018, Ginger Smith- Lemon Thyme and Ginger. All rights reserved.
There is nothing like eating a fresh ripe nectarine or any ripe fruit for that matter. Its sweet perfume and the soft give of its’ flesh, informs me that I am holding a delicious and ripe nectarine. I love the warm colors. Each nectarine has a unique and variegated mosaic of rich sunset colors. No two nectarines are the same. The bright perfume and one bite will tell you just how ripe the nectarine is. As the juice drips down my chin and elbow I forego all good manners just to get every drop of its sweet juice. To eat a fresh ripe nectarine, is tasting the fruit at its brightest and sweetest. I am in awe of Mother Earth and her many nourishing gifts.
Fresh fruit is refreshing and delicious, but sometimes extra preparation and cooking will reward you with a sweeter and more concentrated fruit-filled flavor. A simple baked fruit tart is an easy and delicious choice for a summer dessert. One of my favorite baked fruit dessert is a galette. The free form structure of a fruit galette is just my style. I love pie, but I am never satisfied with how mine look. I feel a lot of pressure to present a pristine and detailed pie crust without any flaws. Whenever I try to make a pie, I feel like my fingers just get in the way and I lack the extra-fine motor skills to perform such neat and detailed work. I know practice makes perfect, but the simplicity and informality of a galette appeals to me.
© 2017 – 2018, Ginger Smith- Lemon Thyme and Ginger. All rights reserved.