Sweet, succulent figs, I find, are an absolute delight. When they are in season in Jeddah, I can’t get enough of them. I love their simplicity – no peeling, nor preparing. Just a quick wash, and then enjoy the freshness and richness of flavour packed with nutritional goodness which is totally unlike any other fruit.
On the way back from my local store, having indulged in figs galore, I emailed Karimah bint Dawoud, clinical nutritionist and guest blogger at JB, and author of Heavenly Bites, the Best of Muslim Home Cooking, asking if she would share a recipe from her new book, Happy Healthy Halal. Kind soul that she is, she promptly sent me the most delicious Fig Frangipane Tart recipe, exclusively to share with Jeddah Blog readers.
Find out more about Karimah, best-selling author, photographer, former model and makeup artist who converted to Islam eleven years ago on her website. She is a sought-after nutrition coach and is working on her new book, Happy Healthy Halal.
At-Teen in Arabic means “fig”. The fig is symbolic of the lands that it grows in, mainly Turkey, Palestine and Syria. We often think of figs as part of various sweets and biscuits, but these interesting fruits also have amazing medical properties.
- They help lower high blood pressure
- They a sweet way to lose weight; nibble on a dried fig with a cup of tea rather than biscuits.
- They are a fast food; carry dry figs around when you are out and about and on the go outside the home.
- They contain fibre that protects against postmenopausal breast cancer
- They promote bone density
- They protect against macular/eye degeneration
This recipe is part of my new book Happy Healthy Halal that features foods of the Holy Quran, and their contemporary uses. The fig is such a special fruit that it has its own chapter in the Quran called Surat At-Teen, chapter 95.
Almond is a flavour that perfectly complements figs, and ground almond flour is used in the baking of many praline patisseries. Now frangipani is a sponge mix using ground almonds or pistachio nuts as well as flour, to form the sponge mix which is used as a tart filling. Frangipane or franchipane is said to have originated from France. Frangipani compliments fresh figs beautifully, and with the clever, skillful use of eastern spices we can elevate this exquisite French celebratory patisserie to a heavenly helwiyat (dessert).
Desserts are generally not healthy, however in nutrition circles there is a 80/20 rule that allows 20% of naughtiness and this dessert is certainly cheeky. As a nutritionist, I advise home baking rather than shop bought cakes as it is less convenient to make cake. You can’t just go to the cupboard whenever you feel like it and eat. You are sure of the ingredients when you bake at home, and you can always gather friends and family to sample your delicious delights.
Try the Fig Frangipane Tart recipe below and leave a comment to tell me how it turned out.
Fig Frangipane Tart
Preparation time 45 minutes
For The Pastry Crust
- 375g/13¼oz/1.5 cups unbleached all purpose flour, plus extra for dusting
- 15g/½oz sugar
- 125g/8oz /1/2 cup unsalted butter, cut into cubes, plus extra for greasing
- 1 free-range egg
- 5 tbsp ice-cold water
- 1 tsp of mixed spice
For The Frangipane Filling
- 200g/7¼oz unsalted butter
- 200g/7¼oz sugar
- 2 free-range eggs
- 200g/7¼oz ground almonds
- 45ml/3 tablespoons of flour
- 1 tsp of powdered ginger
- 1 tsp of turmeric
- 1 tsp powdered cinnamon
For The Tart Filling
- 4-7 ripe black figs, washed and cut in half
Preparation Of Sweet Short Crust Pastry
- For the pastry, sieve the flour and sugar into a large mixing bowl. Add spices. Cube the butter and add to the flour spice mix. Rub the butter and the flour between your thumb and fingers until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. If you have hot hands use 2 knives to cross chop butter and flour mix.
- In a jug or small bowl, beat the egg together with 4-5 tablespoons of ice-cold water. Pour into the flour mixture.
- Slowly bring the ingredients together with your hands or metal utensils to form a dough, do not overwork it, short crust should be made quick and kept cool or it becomes elastic.
- Knead the dough lightly on a clean, floured work surface, then wrap it in cling film and put in the fridge at least 30 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4. Dust the work surface with flour and roll out the chilled pastry to about ½ cm/1/4 inch. Use it to line one large 25cm/10in tart ring. Trim away any excess. Don’t worry if your pastry is falling apart. This happens sometimes with short crust. Short crust pastry can be a bit crumbly and you may need to patchwork your pastry into the greased backing tin, pressing in evenly, then trim off excess around the edges. Don’t worry, it will be super when it comes out of the oven, insha’allah.
- You are going to have to do blind baking, which means make the tart without filling and bake first before adding the filling. This is to stop the base of the tart rising or going soggy and not cooking properly, in this case when a wet filling is used.
- Line the inside of the tart case with a circle of greaseproof paper and put some dried beans on top like kidney beans to weigh the paper down. Place in the oven at 180C/350F/Gas 4 for 15 minutes.
- Take out and cool for 10 minutes.
The Frangipane Almond Tart Filling
- For the frangipane, beat the butter and sugar together in a bowl until light and creamy. Crack the eggs into the bowl one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the ground almonds, flour and spices and mix well until combined. This is in effect a sponge mixture.
- Spoon the frangipane into the tart case so that it comes about halfway up the sides. Smooth over the surface with a spatula. Place the halved figs, seed side up evenly on top of the frangipane and press down lightly. The almond filling will lightly rise around it.
- Bake for 30-40 minutes or until the sponge is golden-brown, a skewer or tip of a knife is placed inside sponge and comes out clean and the fruit is tender.
- When the tart has cooled to warm temperature, add a glaze of apricot or similar smooth jam using an icing spatula or blunt knife to smooth it over the surface of the tart.
Enjoy alone or serve warm with healthy crème fraîche.
Read up on Karimah’s previous blog posts at Jeddah Blog: