Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Fig & Frangipane Tart

I have been obsessed with the idea of this tart ever since I saw the tour of Paule Caillat's kitchen here

Paule, the owner and operator of Promenades Gourmandes, offers cooking classes & gourmet walks in Paris. I'd written to Paule during the summer in order to make reservations for my 'Paris Encore' trip in December which, quite sadly, had to postponed indefinitely. When I saw her kitchen & the photos of her fig tart I had to write to her again & ask for the recipe. It looked so beautiful. 

Paule wrote back & told me the tart was a simple sweet tart dough with crème d'amandes - which she said was butter blended into equal amounts of almond meal, sugar and 1 egg & I could use any fruit on top. I had to do a little research to find a recipe for crème d'amandes which I had initially thought would be almond pastry cream. But another look at the ingredient list told me it wasn't. And so what she probably meant was Frangipane. 

Once again, there were so many recipes for frangipane that it was hard to pick one to work with. So I just went with the first and simplest one that showed up in my google search (found it at About.com) and made the Frangipane before I started working on the tart shell. Here's the recipe I used:

Frangipane (makes enough to fill one 9" tart shell)
barely adapted from About.com

1/2 cup ground almond meal (I ground my own almonds - I think it took about 120g to make 1/2 a cup)
1/4 cup granulated sugar (I could have used a little more)
1 egg
3 tbsp butter, softened
1 tsp vanilla vanilla extract

Blend the butter with the almond meal and sugar. Add in the egg and vanilla extract, mixing till smooth. Set aside. 

Now there's no reason for me to look at recipes for sweet tart dough anywhere when I've had such great success with Dorie Greenspans' Sweet Tart Dough. However, Paule was the inspiration for this experiment and her recipe involves a completely different, very intriguing technique which I've really wanted to try out since I saw it on David Lebovitz's blog. 

The recipe requires butter, water and oil to be  to be heated in the oven after which flour is thrown into the melted mixture and everything is stirred together till it's smooth. There's no need to chill the dough or to even roll it - all you  have to do is simply press it into a pan and bake. You don't even have to add baking weights because all it needs is a few pricks with with tines of a fork. That's all. really. 

It is so simple to make and yields such a beautiful, flaky pastry shell. This dough will not let you down. Try it out the  next time you decide to make a tart. 

 Paule Caillat's French Pastry Dough
(do head over to his blog to see DL's photo tutorial here)

90g unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 tbsp vegetable oil
3 tbsp water
1 tbsp sugar
1/8 tsp salt
1 slightly rounded cup all purpose flour

Preheat the oven to 410F. 

In a medium-sized oven-proof bowl, combine the butter, oil, water, sugar and salt. 

Place the bowl in the oven for 15 minutes, until the butter is bubbling and begins to brown just around the edges. 

Carefully remove the bowl from the oven (be very careful here - it really sputters!), throw in the flour and stir it quickly. I used a whisk initially & worked it until I had large clumps of dough - then I switched over to a spatula and gave it a stir or two after which it formed a perfect ball of dough. 

I divided the dough into 4 & transferred it to my mini-tart molds, patted it down with the spatula and then worked with my fingers to press it up the sides. I allowed the shells to cool and then pricked them with a fork before par-baking them for 5 minutes. One of the shells had puffed up a little when I took it out, but I simply patted it down with the back of a spoon. 

Once the shells were completely cool, I divided the frangipane between them and baked them for 15 minutes (Paule's instructions were to bake the tart for a total of 30 mins, adding the fruit after 10 minutes - but I was using small molds so I increased the amount of time). I then layered the sliced figs on top and baked the tarts for 30 - 35 minutes. I think I over-baked a little, since I wasn't sure how long to bake them. And so my tarts looks nothing like Paule's tart, but I loved creating them.


Paule said...

Bonjour Uzma,

Great post, and great photos.

About crème d'amandes versus frangipane, you will always find too many definitions, sources of confusion.

Checking in the official handbook, "Techniques et Connaissance de la Pâtisserie," the recipe I gave you, which is also the one you posted, is for crème d'amandes, and not frangipane. Frangipane is a pastry cream (crème pâtissière) to which you add almond meal, butter, and rum.

I hope this is clear. If not, write back.

About the figs, they are certainly not in season here, are they good now where you live? Otherwise, you can use pears, but you need to poach them first. I will be happy to give you all the details if necessary.

I'm always thrilled when my grandmother's amazing recipe is recreated somewhere else in the world.

Looking forward to more from you,


Nammi said...

Happy New year!!! hope you have a lovely and peaceful year a head, That tart looks delicious!! .

Grapefruit said...

Merci Paule! I was a little confused with the frangipane vs. creme patissiere but decided to go with the 'frangipane' recipe I found since it listed all the ingredients you had mentioned & in roughly the same proportion. I substituted vanilla for the rum.

Figs - we can still get them here, but they're a little pale and not too sweet. I think I will make this recipe again with pears & will send you a pvt. msg for the details. Thanks for your comments! I loved your recipe for the tart dough!

Sweet and Savory said...

This looks simply fabulous. Good job.

Sage Trifle said...

That looks unbelievably delicious. And your photographs are gorgeous. Save me a slice?

Grapefruit said...

Happy New Year to you too, Nammi!

@Rocquie & Chaya - thank you! You are both too kind !

Anonymous said...

Wonderful looking tarte and the addition of frangipane makes the fruits all the more delicious to eat; that crust recipe is a keeper and I will keep it in my memory bank for next time.

Catalina said...

This looks utterly delicious! I can't wait for the figs to get to their season and to try something like that! Btw your photos are wonderful!

tina_bakes said...

Looks grrrreaaattt, Uzma!! I love the colours and textures this dessert posesses. Looks very flavourful too - as in a burst of texture and flavour in each bite!

croquecamille said...

Gorgeous! The flavor of almond marries so well with just about any fruit, so you can really make this one year-round!

laurie said...

Wow. Your photos are amazing. I really enjoyed your post!

Hannah said...

What beautiful photographs - I'm craving figs now!

♥Sugar♥Plum♥Fairy♥ said...

Oh GrapeFruit ,i have been gaga over this too , ever since i saw it at DL blog , was soo intrigued by the method n bookmarked as urgent and somewhere along ...didn make it...
Thannxx for pinging me into making this wonderful tarts , urs looks lovely!
I loveee Paule too , she's so wonderful !
Thannxx for a lovely post!

Deeba PAB said...

I think this is absolutely beautiful. I did a fig and vanilla frangipane tart a while ago, but your pastry looks a lot better. Must check out DL's site link. Thank you for sharing this so beautifully! The figs look just perfect to me.


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