A wonderful fig tart (or crostata alla marmellata as the Italians call it) with a lattice top with step-by-step instructions for the sweet dough and homemade fig jam.
The time given in the recipe is for the pie (making the dough and baking it), not included is the time it takes to make the fig jam.
For the dough:
- 2 1/4 cups 300g all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup 100g sugar
- Pinch of salt
- 1 cup 220g unsalted butter, cold and in pieces
- 1 egg
- 1 egg yolk
For the homemade Fig Jam:
- 1/2 pound fresh black figs
- 3 cups (600g) white sugar
- 2 strips orange or lemon zest
- Large pinch of ground cinnamon
- 1/2 to 1 cups water
For the dough:
- In a food processor pulse a few time to mix flour, sugar and salt.
- Scatter butter pieces on top and mix until you have butter the size of peas.
- Add egg and yolk and process using on/off until it starts to come together. Don’t let it form a ball. It should come together when you pinch it with your fingers.
- Turn it onto the counter and press it together to form a flat disk. Or do like I do, and put it inside a plastic bag and aid yourself with the bag while pressing your knuckles until it comes together. That way you don’t touch the dough unnecessarily.
- Refrigerate for 1 hour and up to 2 days.
- When ready to bake, cut the dough in two pieces, one larger than the other (about 1/3 of the amount for the small piece) and roll the large one on a lightly floured counter until a few inches bigger than the pie plate. Keep the small piece refrigerated.
- Carefully line the pan and pinch the edges. You might need to cut a few overhanging pieces.
- Prick the bottom and refrigerate or freeze (better).
- Preheat oven to 350ºF / 180ºC.
- To blind bake: put a large piece of aluminum foil or parchment paper over the frozen dough and add weight: ceramic balls, uncooked rice, beans, chickpeas, flour. Anything that will hold the paper and can go into the oven.
- Bake for 15 minutes and carefully lift the paper with the weight. The dough should be somewhat dry and have held its shape. Bake it for another 5-10 minutes, until no streaks of butter remain in the bottom and the surface is dry. Let it cool on a wire rack while you prepare the lattice.
Assembling the tart:
- Fill the pre-baked tart dough with fig jam, covering the whole surface but don’t overdo it. Some jam will not be used.
- Roll out the small amount of dough that was in the fridge on a lightly floured counter to a thickness of half an inch or so. You want the center to be an inch larger than the pie plate. Remember you need two of each length.
- With a pizza wheel or a large kitchen knife, cut strips and make a lattice on top of the fig jam.
- To do that, begin with the longest strip in the middle and work your way to the edges, using shorter strips as you approach the sides. Pinch the edges to seal both doughs.
- Repeat to make a crisscross pattern. Pinch together broken strips or if you miscalculated and are short. Rustic is the way to go.
For the homemade fig jam:
- Have a large saucepan ready.
- Wash figs, cut out stems and cut them in 3-4 pieces each, depending on their size.
- We need large chunks not bite-size pieces.
- Put them in the saucepan and add the whole amount of sugar.
- Leave them to macerate (releasing of their natural juices due to the sugar added) for 1/2 an hour.
- Add 1/2 cup water, orange or lemon strips, and cinnamon.
- Put the saucepan over low heat, really low heat and stir so that ingredients mix a bit, but careful not to break up the fig pieces.
- Stir every 15 minutes or so until it thickens and the liquid starts to become syrupy.
- It does need to be somewhat liquid, you don’t need for all the water to evaporate and leave you with a thick syrup. Because this will mean the figs are too dry.
- It will take 50-60 minutes approx.
- You can add an extra 1/2 cup of water and that will speed up the process but the figs will disintegrate more (maybe you don’t mind) and you’ll be left with a whole lot of fig syrup. Your call.
- While still hot put in sterilized jars and keep refrigerated.
Tips for making a great sweet tart dough:
- Butter, have it cold and in pieces. This is very important so it mixes a bit with the flour but is not completely incorporated into it. Some pieces of butter the size of peas should remain in order to ensure flakiness when it is baked. I use a food processor for this part, but you can easily make it in a bowl with a dough cutter or use your hands, always being careful not to overwork the butter and heating it up too much (due to warm hands). If that happens, return the bowl as is to the fridge for 10 minutes, and then continue.
- Don’t overwork the dough after adding the flour. This is a critical step if you want a tender, light dough. Once the flour is added, don’t overwork it, it doesn’t need to be kneaded. It needs to be mixed until there are no visible streaks of flour (image below).
- Always let it rest in the fridge before rolling it. This step is absolutely essential. The dough, even if you didn’t work it much when assembling it, will have developed some gluten (great for bread for example but not for doughs), so it needs to relax in the cold refrigerator before it is rolled. Otherwise, it will be difficult to stretch and will be too elastic, which will make it shrink as it bakes and be tough.
Tips for the homemade fig jam:
Use black figs and cut them in large chunks, 4 pieces is the best.
Use figs that are firm as they will disintegrate less during cooking.
Stir the jam often over very low heat. You can speed up by adding more water and medium heat, but the jam will have fewer chunks and the syrup more watery.
For sterilizing jars this is a good tutorial with different methods. Use sterilized jars if you’re planning on keeping them for a long time (always refrigerated). They last for a week or so if using regular jars.
Keywords: fig jam, fig tart, lattice pie, fig pie