Fig and Goat Cheese Tart

When people talk about produce, Summer comes to mind; however, the end of the Summer and beginning of Fall bring treats to the local Farmers' Markets.  Look for gorgeous broccoli, cabbage, apples, pears and figs.

I used 1.5 lb of fresh figs to make this tart, 2 lbs would have been better. It helps that we have a neighbor with a fig tree, and better yet a young fig tree of our own that will, hopefully, begin to fruit next year This recipe is adapted from Yotam Ottolenghi's new cookbook, Plenty More.  Extravagance aside, the tart is amazing: beautiful and impressive to look at and even more delicious.

The dough is a buttery yeast dough flavored with thyme, lime, lemon and a bit of sugar. The resulting taste is not quite cake, a bit savory with an earthy undertone. I used fresh thyme today, as my garden is still full of beautiful fresh thyme, but I'm sure dried thyme will work well. These figs I used were the last of the season and on the smallish side The fruit should be a  bit firm, but ripe.

Spring came in late and the tree has lots of under-ripe fruit that will probably not make it through the first freeze

Before you read the recipe and decide that this is way more involved than you have patience for, let me suggest that you try it on a rainy Sunday, when you have nowhere to go until later in the day. The dough should be made and chilled for 8- 10 hours for best results (although 3-4 hours will do). Ottolenghi writes that you can choose to use frozen puff pastry, which may also be delicious, but would be a different tasting tart.  Depending on how you want to divide up your time, some of the prep can be done the evening before as well, making the baking process move more quickly when you are ready to bake.

For this tart I strongly recommend weighing the ingredients and not using volume.

30-60 minutes before you are ready to assemble the tart, remove the chilled dough from the refrigerator. While the dough is warming a bit, prepare the cheese spread, slice the fruit in half and whisk the lemon icing ingredients.The cheese layer is applied like a thin film of spreadable filling. The icing is drizzled on the baked tart.

Electric mixer
Measuring cups, spoons, bowls, small whisk
Small prep bowls
Kitchen scale
Rolling pin, silicone mat
Parchment paper
Jelly roll pan

For the pastry dough:
10 oz  all purpose flour
1.8 oz granulated sugar
1 tsp instant yeast -I used SAF Gold, but any instant yeast will work, if you prefer active dry yeast,
     see my post on flour and  yeast
Zest of one lime or lemon
1/2 tsp lime or lemon oil (optional, add it if you like more pronounced citrus flavor)
2 oz (1/4c) warm water
1 extra large egg plus one extra large yolk, mix in a small prep bowl. Reserve the egg white to wash on the edges of the rolled out dough
pinch kosher or sea salt
2.5 oz (5 Tbsp) butter, margarine or solid shortening - cut into small pieces
approximately 1-2 Tbsp neutral oil (e.g. canola or corn) for greasing the bowl used for proofing the

For the cheese layer:
5 oz plain goat cheese
2 oz confectioner's sugar
1 Tsp grated orange zest
1 1/2 Tbsp fresh thyme leaves (or 1 Tsp dried thyme)
1 extra large egg
3.6 oz ground almonds or hazelnuts

For the fig layer:
1 1/2 - 2 lbs barely ripe figs, halved
2 Tbsp sugar crystals- use organic sugar crystals, sanding or turbinado sugar - these types of sugar will remain sparkly on the baked tart. If unavailable, use granulated sugar

For the lemon icing drizzle:
1 1/2 Tbsp lemon juice
1 oz confectioner's sugar

Make the pastry. You'll need to chill the dough a minimum of 2-4 hours, or preferably 8-10 hours
1. Pre-measure all of the ingredients and have at-the-ready.
2. Place the flour, yeast, granulated sugar and zest in the bowl of an electric stand mixer or a large mixing bowl.
3. Using the dough hook, stir the ingredients.
4. Pour the water into the dry ingredients, continuing to mix at a slow speed. Add the egg mixture, salt and lemon oil. Continue to mix on low speed.
5. Add the butter, one or two small pieces at a time.  Increase the mixer speed and mix until the fat is blended into the dough.  You may need to scrape the dough down along the sides of the bowl.  If the dough continues to stick to the sides and does not pull together into a ball, add a tablespoon or two of flour. Continue to mix at medium for six or seven minutes.  The dough ball will look shiny, smooth and be stretchy.
6. Remove the dough hook, drizzle the reserved oil on top of the dough, turn the dough so that the entire surface is oily.
7. Cover with plastic wrap, place in refrigerator and chill.  The finished dough will become puffy, but will increase only about 20% in volume.

8. To make the cheese layer
 You can make the mixture after the dough (chilling while the dough is being chilled) or prepare after the dough has chilled and is warming a bit before you roll it out and assemble the tart.

9. Measure and assemble the cheese layer ingredients. Mash or whip together the cheese, 2 oz confectioner's sugar, thyme and zest. Beat in the whole egg and then add the ground nuts. The filling will have the consistency of a thick cream cheese spread.

10. Halve the figs               

11. Cover a flat surface with a silicone mat or parchment paper. Dust lightly with flour. Gently shape the ball of dough into a short log and begin rolling out the dough by stretching the length to about 16-17 inches. Flip the dough, dust it with a bit more flour and roll out to widen to approximately 12 or 13 inches, forming a rectangle this is approximately 16 x 12 inches. The dough should be approximately 1/4 inch thick. 

12. The dough will be fragile, there are two ways I know to move the dough onto the baking pan. You can loosely roll the dough over and around a rolling pin and unroll along the length of the jelly roll pan that has been lined with parchment paper OR you can cover the dough with parchment paper, lay the jelly roll pan on top of the covered dough and lifting from the bottom (under the silicone or parchment, flip the entire layered silicone-paper-dough-baking pan so that the pan is on the bottom and you can peel away the now-top layer of silicone or paper. 

13. Trim the edges to form a reasonably straight rectangle and roll each edge over once to form a border. 

14. Spread a thin layer of cheese along the entire surface.
15. Brush the edge with the reserved egg white.
16. Sprinkle 1/2 of the sugar crystals along the pastry edge.
17. Place a layer of figs, placing the fruit as closely together as possible, making sure to cover the entire surface with fruit. Sprinkle the fruit with the remaining sugar crystals.

18. Cover loosely with a piece of parchment paper and let rest 15-20 minutes until you see the edge puff a bit. While allowing the assembled tart to rest/rise, place an oven rack in the top third of the oven and  preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

19. Remove the cover, slip the tart into the oven, lower the thermostat to 350 degrees and bake for 25-30 minutes or until the edges are golden brown and sparkly and the figs have begun to caramelize a bit.

20. While the tart is baking, combine the lemon juice and reserved confectioners sugar. Whisk into a thick icing.

21. Drizzle the icing on the warm tart. Serve warm or at room temperature. 

The tart is unbelievably delicious! 
Not too sweet, a bit earthy from the flavor of the thyme and the figs become creamy. 

Looking for another fruit tart recipe?
or a VERY simple Rustic Fruit Crumble


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