Baking| Fresh Fig & Frangipane Buckwheat Tartlets

“If the divine creator has taken pains to give us delicious and exquisite things to eat, the least we can do is prepare them well and serve them with ceremony.”

Ferdinand Point

Fruit in baking continue to hold my interest. I knew I had to get some fresh figs back from our visit to Pune as we don’t ever find them here in North India. Bought some from a roadside stall while driving down from Mahabaleshwar, and the old lady gave me MANY instructions to protect this luscious fruit after she asked me where I was from. Figs must be allowed to ripen fully on the tree before they are picked. They will not ripen if picked when immature. A ripe fruit will be slightly soft and starting to bend at the neck. Fresh figs do not keep well and can be stored in the refrigerator for only 2 – 3 days.

These fruit are highly perishable and once back I had to figure out what to do with them soon as they were threatening to perish in front of my very eyes. I had earlier made this very delicious Fresh Fig Frangipane Tart that we all loved, frangipane being a great fave at our place. The kids however are not fans of fresh figs so it was time to think. It was back to my old obsession … buckwheat and experiments with recipes, and this one thankfully worked fine too.

 

Frangipane is a filling made from or flavored like almonds. This filling can be used in a variety of ways including cakes, tarts and other assorted pastries. An alternative French spelling from a 1674 cookbook is franchipane with the earliest modern spelling coming from a 1732 confectioners’ dictionary. Originally designated as a custard tart flavored by almonds or pistachios it came later to designate a filling that could be used in a variety of confections and baked goods.

The pastry recipe which I use for tart shells, galettes etc is a pretty versatile one, and works well with minor changes. Here I substituted buckwheat for cornmeal.  I bravely went a step further and added some buckwheat to the frangipane too, as a substitute for the flour. You can use plain flour if you like though.

Worked pretty well in the frangipane, but that’s maybe because it’s just a small quantity and doesn’t make a major difference. I think I’ve seen some frangipane recipes that don’t use any sort of flour at all. Well, whichever way, the end result was delicious and pretty too. Looking at the vibrant colour the fig slices took on after being baked, I often wish that we got fresh figs here in North India too ! Maybe one day ….

Fresh Fig Buckwheat Tartlets with Vanilla Scented Frangipane
Makes 1 8-9″ tart, or 6 small 3″ tartlets
Tart Pastry
3/4 cup flour
1/4 cup buckwheat flour
Pinch salt
1/4 cup cold butter, cut into pieces
1/8 cup vanilla/granulated sugar
1/8 cup buttermilk (may need 1-2 tbsp extra to bind dough)
Vanilla Scented Frangipane
1/2 cup whole almonds
1/3rd cup vanilla sugar
1/3rd cup clarified butter, melted (or unsalted butter)
1 tbsp low fat cream
1 large egg
1 vanilla bean, scraped
1/8 cup buckwheat flour (or cornmeal)
2-3 tbsp strawberry vanilla preserve
About 6-8 figs, sliced
Vanilla sugar for sprinkling

Method for pastry:

Place both flour and salt in processor and pulse 2-3 times.
Add butter and pulse 4-5 times, or until mixture resembles coarse meal. With the processor running, slowing pour the buttermilk through the chute, processing until the dough forms a ball.
Remove the dough ball and adhere any remaining pieces of dough to it, then wrap in plastic wrap or parchment paper. Refrigerate for 30-35 minutes. (I did it for almost an hour because the weather was HOT)
Preheat the oven to 180C.
On a lightly floured surface, roll out the pastry as thin as you like and line tartlet tins, or tart pan. I like my pastry quite thin (1/8″).
Line the fitted tarlets tins with foil, place pie weights/beans on base, and bake blind for 10 minutes, until light brown and crisp. Remove weights and cool on racks.
Frangipane:
Spread the almonds evenly on a baking sheet and place them in the oven. Roast them for about 10 minutes, or until slightly toasted and fragrant. Transfer to a plate and let cool to room temperature.
Place the almonds and sugar in the processor and whiz till ground. I like the almonds coarsely ground.
And the clarified butter, egg, scraped vanilla seeds, cream and buckwheat flour and whiz again till mixed uniformly.

Preheat the oven to 170C.

Assembling the tartlets:

Brush the base of the pastry with melted strawberry preserves and divide the frangipane equally among the 6 tartlet shells. Level out with an offset spatula. Top with slices of fresh fig and bake for 30 minutes, until lightly browned and knife inserted in centre of frangipane comes out clean. If you find the pie crust browning too soon, slide a sheet of foil over loosely.
Serve warm, at room temperature or even chilled. I like them served chilled with a dollop of unsweetened cream, sliced fresh figs and pistachio slivers. Enjoy!!

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Strawberry Galette with Vanilla Scented Frangipane … ♥ Rustic Sweetheart Tart ♥

This one smells like strawberry.
Lucy Garcia
The rustic beauty of a galette is something that I cannot bypass. I saw an Strawberry-Apple Galette at my new found favourte destination, The Mansurovs, and I knew it would play on my mind till I made something similar. I needed an opportunity, an excuse to bake…  delicate, perishable fruit always seem to present just that window of opportunity!
It was a day I had gone to the market and the vendor got me 2 boxes of pretty strawberries. Yes, right, I coudn’t resist the offer and came home on the double. Day 1 went by, but day 2 had me longing to bake with them. Opportunity came by in a most charming way. Got an invite from the beautiful Amici Cafe in Khan Market, New Delhi for a special bloggers session to sample the cafes aphrodasiac menu for Valentines.

Yes, I would bake a galette for them and one for us too! ‘Us’ because 13th of February is the day Mr PAB fondly marks on his calendar annually as the day Vin met Dee. This was 20 years ago…. 20years??? Time does fly. Here’s a scratchy old picture of ours taken around that time when we were visiting Bath! I still have a bottle of sealed ‘Bath’ water, a ceramic mug & a thimble on my shelf … souvenier cum memories of that visit!

Back to the tart… I used a similar recipe that I had used earlier for the Fresh Fig Tart here. The process of making this moreish tart is as therapeutic an experience as can be. For me, it is pure joy to work with fruit. Rustic, free form pastry makes it even better. Frangipane is a big favourite in our home, and the aromas of the tart baking were instantly mood uplifting.
Needed it because in the background could here my current favourite song playing … by Just Jack, ‘The Day I Died’poignant and evocative lyrics. There’s something about the lyrics that makes you think about the small things in every day life, the little joys that we fail to treasure …  hmmm.

There’s something about strawberries that make food so much more passionate. They offer tremendous colour play, are sensual and vibrant, and are an absolute pleasure to bake with. I really enjoyed my morning making these galettes as I’m a huge fan of frangipane and free form pastry.

Galette is a general term used in French to designate various types of flat, round or free form crusty cakes. One notable type is the galette des Rois (King cake) eaten on the day of Epiphany. In French Canada, the term galette is usually applied to pastries best described as large cookies.

As David Lebovitz says, “Whether sweet or savory, a galette is less fussy than a traditional tart and offers more crisp crust”. The frangipane layer absorbs some fruit juices and helps keep the crust crisp. I find it also compliments tangy/tart fruits beautifully, and enhances the flavours of sweet ones like apples and peaches. An alternative for frangipane could be biscuit crumbs as Monsieur Lebovitz suggests.

Since this is free form pastry, you can roll it as thick or relatively thinner than a pastry crust. Don’t roll it too thin or it might not be able to hold the weight of the frangipane and fruit. Pleating the sides are also your call entirely … just a border like I’ve done, or almost all the way around with a small opening on top. If the weather is warm, the unbaked tart might benefit from 30 minutes chilling in the fridge. Thereafter, pop it into a preheated oven straight out of the fridge. This article by David Lebovitz on Free-Form Rustic Tarts is a great resource with fabulous tips and how to pictures.

Strawberry Galette with Vanilla Scented Frangipane
Makes 1 8-9″ tart
(I used double the recipe)
1/2 quantity of this recipe, (or 1 9″ quantity of pastry dough)
About 6-8 large strawberries
Frangipane recipe follows
Vanilla Scented Frangipane
1/2 cup whole almonds
1/3rd cup vanilla sugar
60g butter
1tbsp cream
1 large egg
1/2 a vanilla bean
1/8 cup plain flour
1 tsp milk (or a little beaten egg for pastry)
Vanilla sugar for sprinkling
1 tbsp apricot preserve (I used melted marmalade)

Method:
Frangipane

Preheat the oven to 180C. Spread the almonds evenly on a baking sheet and place them in the oven. Roast them for about 10 minutes, or until slightly toasted and fragrant. Transfer to a plate and let cool to room temperature.
Put the cooled almonds and the sugar into a food processor and process until fine. Add the butter, flour and egg and pulse until well-combined. Scrape the seeds of the vanilla bean and stir through.

Method:
Galette
Preheat the oven to 200C.

Roll out your pastry dough to about 10-inch diameter. Prick a fork though it every inch or so apart, and place the dough on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.
Spread the frangipane on the dough, leaving about 1 inch perimeter around the outer edge of the dough. Slice the strawberries and place them from outside inwards to form concentric circles to cover the frangipane.
Fold the edges in, pinching a little to make sure they stick. Brush the dough with milk (or eggwash) and give it a good shower of vanilla sugar. Bake for about 45-50 minutes, or until the pastry edges are golden brown.
Brush the pastry and top of the galette gently with melted preserve or marmalade as soon as it comes out to give it a good sheen, and seal the moisture in.
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~ HAPPY CNY & HAPPY V DAY ~

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