best kept secret – fig almond crostata

by hungryrabbit on September 13, 2013

Fig Almond Crostata

For all you who don’t live in New York City, I’ll let you in on a secret. Minus the farmer’s market and the super fancy grocery stores, the best place to buy your fruit is from street vendors. The fruits are ripe and ready to eat and the prices are cheaper than regular stores.

Not all vendors are equal—and neither is the produce they offer. Crowd sourcing can help find the best ones—look for the stands where the customers swarm like bees. My favorite fruit vendor (which happens to have its own Four Square check-in) is the most popular in the Union Square area.

Larger than most fruit stands, it’s run by a family at the corner of 14th street and University Place… Mom used to be in charge, offering daily fresh produce with a friendly smile. Now, her boys took over and run a smooth operation. Produce is sold at a bargain prices and it goes quickly, but they usually have everything in abundance–even organic versions.

Just the other day, baskets full of ripe figs caught my eye. How could I resist the fantastic price of 2 baskets for $4? I decided to make a simple fig crostata, using part for a jam filling and reserving some as garnish. A thin layer of almond paste compliments the sweetness of the figs, as well as lining the dough to keep it from getting soggy from the filling. This crostata may not have the vibrant color of a fruit tart, but the dark hues of the figs and its sensual interior is a nice departure from the colorful juicy fruit that we’ve been sampling through summer.

tart_fig_almond_quad

Fig Almond Crostata

yield One 8-inch tart

Pastry Dough

Ingredients

1-1/2 cups (7-1/2 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
8 tablespoons (4 ounces/1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes, frozen
2 tablespoons vegetable shortening
3-6 tablespoons of ice water

Directions

1. In food processor, pulse flour and salt to combine. Scatter butter and shortening pieces over flour, then pulse until texture resembles coarse bread crumbs and butter pieces about the size of small peas remain, ten to twelve 1-second pulses. Sprinkle 3 tablespoon water over mixture and pulse until dough begins to form small curds and holds together when pinched with fingers. If necessary, add remaining water 1 tablespoon at a time to achieve result.

2. Empty dough onto a large piece of plastic wrap; dough will be crumbly Gather dough into a 6-inch disc by pulling up sides of plastic wrap and press lightly with heel of your hand. Wrap dough with the plastic wrap, and refrigerate until cold but malleable, about 45 minutes.

Note: If dough has chilled for longer than 45 minutes and has become too firm, let stand at room temperature counter 10-15 minutes until malleable.

Fig Filling

Ingredients

9 ounces fresh figs, stemmed and chopped, about 1-1/2 cups
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup (2 ounces) light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoons fine sea salt
1/2 teaspoon orange-flower water (optional)

Directions

1. Combine figs, water, sugar, cinnamon and salt in a medium saucepan and bring t to a simmer over medium heat. Reduce heat to medium-low and continue to simmer until mixture is thickened , about 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in orange-flower water; transfer filling to a bowl and cool to room temperature, about 30 minutes.

Assembly

Ingredients

1/2 cup almond paste
Pastry dough
Fig Filling
Ice water for brushing
1 tablespoon demerara or sprinkling sugar
6-8 fresh figs, whole or halved for decoration (optional)

Directions

1. Place almond paste between two plastic wrap and roll into a very thin disc, about 10 or 11-inch in diameter. Set aside.

2. Lightly dust a piece of parchment with flour and roll pastry dough into a 12-inch round disc. Transfer parchment onto a baking sheet, place almond disc on top of pastry round. Spread fig filling into an even layer in the center, about 8-inch in diameter. Carefully fold 2-inch outer edge of the dough towards the center, overlapping the fig filling. Repeat around the circumference of the crostata, gently press dough to secure.

3. Refrigerate crostata for 20-30 minutes. In the mean time, adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 400℉.

4. Remove crostata from refrigerator and brush dough with ice water and sprinkle sugar evenly over dough. Bake until crust is golden brown, about 40-50 minutes. Rotate half way during baking for evenness. Cool on baking sheet over wire rack for 30 minutes or to room temperature. Garnish with fresh figs, cut into wedges and serve.

tart_fig_almond_main_2

 

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{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Brian @ A Thought For Food September 13, 2013 at 7:46 am

So good to know about the fruit stand. Great advice! Just picked up some figs last week to make my own figgy creation. I think yours and mine would actually go nicely together (you’ll see what I’m talking about soon enough :-))!

Liren September 13, 2013 at 9:54 am

Miss those fruit stands, what gems to find! This crostata is lovely, Ken. I sure am going to miss the figs when they are gone.

dixya| food, pleasure, and health September 13, 2013 at 10:10 am

I really need to make something with figs – its all over the blogosphere.

claire September 14, 2013 at 6:37 pm

Wow. I look forward to the brief early-september window for half-decent figs available to me in the uk with a fizzing avidity so this looks divine. Like to think a good bought fig jam/conserve would suffice out of season.
This would be a top contender for my pudding-of-choice in almost any circumstance so I’m surely duty-bound to make it, eh?
Is the shortening vital over all-butter dough, though? I’m not its biggest fan…

Jen @ My Kitchen Addiction September 15, 2013 at 9:37 pm

Ooh… This looks lovely! I love the addition of the almond paste. And, how have I never thought to use that in a pie or crostata to keep it from getting soggy? Love it! I am dreaming up all sorts of fruit and almond combinations now.

I can never find figs around here. Now I am trying to justify a trip to NYC just to buy some fruit. :)

hungryrabbit September 16, 2013 at 9:55 pm

Hi Claire, You can certain do with all butter but I truly believe that the small amount of vegetable shortening gives the crust that extra flakiness. Happy Baking! -Ken

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