We had a few perfect fall days this weekend. Knowing that this weather is fleeting makes it feel all the more fantastic. Everyone is out soaking it up: I biked home today along the Hudson River, past dozens of birthday parties and barbecues and groups of friends sprawled across picnic blankets.
Yesterday I went apple picking up in the Hudson Valley. We came home with armloads of fruit and currently there is a huge stockpot of cinnamon-scented applesauce bubbling away on my stove. I ate many bites of many apples, possibly got poison ivy, confirmed that Pink Lady is the best type of apple, and was reminded that there is nothing nicer than spending the day in the sun with your sister.
In between the seasons, I often feel low on inspiration in the kitchen. It doesn't feel quite cool enough for apple pie or pumpkin bread. But the sight of fresh peaches doesn't exactly whip me into a frenzy at this point, if you know what I mean. Instead, I let mere happenstance dictate my baking. Case in point: I had some fresh figs sitting around, so I turned them into this tart, and I'd highly recommend mastering this recipe for times when you, too, find yourself in a baking rut.
Although it's excellent with figs, the frangipane filling would go well with all kinds of fruit and it wouldn't feel out of place regardless of the season. You could skip the fruit altogether and top it with sliced almonds and a dusting of powdered sugar. If you decide on fruit but don't want to use figs, try poached pears or raspberries.
If you're wondering how good this tart is on a scale of 1 to 10, I'll just say this: I did find myself late at night, standing in front of the refrigerator and eating the filling out of the cold tart with a fork, so there's that.
A note on the crust: I used Amanda Hesser's press-in olive oil tart crust recipe. Exceptionally simple, it takes about 5 minutes to stir together and shape, and there's no chilling or rolling of the dough. It's quite a crumbly crust though, so if you prefer something flakier and sturdier, try a classic pâte brisée (all-butter tart crust) instead.
Fig and Almond Tart
For the crust
1 1/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons flour
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
1/2 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons whole milk
For the filling
100 grams almond meal (or grind your own almonds in a food processor)
1 cup confectioner's sugar
1/2 teaspoon almond extract (optional)
For the topping
8-10 fresh figs
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, and sugar. Drizzle in the olive oil and milk and stir with a fork until the dough comes together.
Using your fingers, firmly press the dough into a tart pan (an 8" or 9" round pan works, or use a 13" rectangular pan as I did). Prick the crust all over with a fork, and bake the crust for 8-12 minutes, or until lightly golden brown.
Remove the tart crust from the oven and set it aside to cool.
In a food processor, combine all the filling ingredients and pulse until creamy and well-combined. Spoon the filling into crust. The crust is delicate and the filling will be thick, so use a gentle touch to smooth the filling evenly into the crust. Try not to fill the crust more than halfway fill as the filling will puff up considerably.
Slice the fresh figs and place them over the top of the tart. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until the top of the filling turns golden brown.
Remove and let cool before slicing.