Figs and blue cheese… where do I even start? If I never had to worry about getting into a dress again I could happily lie back and eat figs and cheese until the cows came home, and when the cows came home I would be disgruntled. It took me ages to brave eating a fresh fig, as their exterior gives nothing away about the sweet, sticky goodness inside, and as a 90’s child I associate the flavour with stodgy, synthetic fig rolls that I was sometimes tricked into eating instead of a biscuit. Now, however, it’s figs ahoy and this tart makes a particularly delicious tea time treat. Teamed with blue cheese, rocket and a walnut pastry, the tart would work well at any dinner party.
For the pastry
50g chopped walnuts
125g unsalted butter
250g plain flour
pinch of salt
~ 5 tablespoons water
For the filling
250ml double cream
generous crunch of black pepper
sprinkle of salt
3 fresh figs
handful of watercress
150g blue cheese (I always use castello)
squeeze of lemon
handful of walnuts
- Ideally you want to use a loose-bottomed tart tin for this bake. As always the first step is to grease the tin with a knob of butter, making sure to get into all the ridges. Then dust with a light layer of flour and shake to evenly distribute, before getting rid of any excess.
- To make the pastry, cube 125g of chilled butter. Measure out the plain flour, along with a little pinch of salt, into a large mixing bowl. Rub the butter and flour together with the tips of your fingers until the mixture resembles a breadcrumb structure and no lumps of butter remain. Quickly whizz 50g walnuts in a food processor until finely chopped then add this to the crumb mix.
- Next moisture needs to be added to the pastry to bind it together. Add a beaten egg to start through and distribute it through the dry mix by slicing through using a butter knife. Next add the water a bit at a time until you can bring the pastry together into a dough. Try not to overwork. Wrap in cling film and leave to chill for 30 minutes.
- Once the pastry is chilled, roll it out on a lightly floured surface until it is the right size for lining your tin, and fairly thin. Pick up by rolling over the pin and gently placing over the top. Gently drop in to all the corners and then either very gently with your hands, or with any left over pastry prod the pastry case until it is well fitted into all the creases of the tin. Again, return to fridge for approximately 15 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 200•C.
- Prick the base of the pastry tin a few times with a fork to help prevent bubbles of air. Line with baking parchment and fill with baking beads (or some form of rice or pulse if you don’t have these). Blind bake for 15 minutes.
- In this time make the filling. Whisk the eggs together with a hand whisk then add the cream and again whisk. Season with a generous pinch of salt and pepper and a squeeze of lemon juice. Finely slice the figs, and remove any hard stems from the watercress. Chop the blue cheese into healthy chunks, and do the same with a handful of walnuts.
- Take the blind baked pastry case out of the oven and lower the temperature to 180•C.
- Remove the baking beans, then trim the excess pastry using a very sharp serrated knife. Sprinkle the solid fillings over the base of the pastry case- i.e. the blue cheese, figs, walnuts and watercress. Fill the pasty case with the cream until about halfway. Transfer to the oven then top up with the rest of the cream mix.
- Bake for 30 minutes until just about wobbling.