Oh, happy days! Fresh figs abound in the markets at long last. I’ve been waiting ever so patiently for them and planning this tart ever since I got my hands on a jar of Australian leatherwood honey on my last trip home. It is such a rich and perfumed honey that it cries out for pairing with goat cheese. Of course, any strong dark honey would work – just try to go for something with oomph!
This tart is a wonderful combination of flavours – the sweetness of the fruit and honey is a perfect foil for the bright, fresh tang of the goat cheese.
Serves 8 as an appetiser or 4 as a main with salad
Preparation time: 10 minutes
Baking time: 2 x 15 minutes
Resting time: 10 minutes
1 sheet puff pastry, approx. 42 x 26cm (17 x 10″) (thawed, if frozen)
400g (14oz) goat cheese, room temperature
2 1/2 Tbsp richly flavoured honey (divided)
8 fresh ripe figs
good pinch chopped fresh thyme leaves
pinch sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
1 egg yolk, beaten with 1 tsp water for egg wash
Preheat oven to 220°C / 425°F / Gas Mark 7 and line a baking sheet with parchment.
To blind bake the puff pastry, place it on the parchment-lined baking sheet and prick it all over with a fork, lightly score a 2.5cm (1″) border around the edge of the pastry and fold it over so you have a double-thickness border all the way round. Cover the whole thing with another sheet of parchment and spread a layer of dried beans or rice over the centre part of the pastry sheet inside the border (to stop the centre part from puffing up as much as the border). Bake in centre of oven for 10 minutes, remove from oven and remove the top parchment with the beans/rice. Brush the centre part of the pastry with egg wash (to seal the pastry so it doesn’t get soggy from the filling) and return to oven for a further 5 minutes.
Set the pastry aside to cool a little and allow the centre of the pastry to collapse.
Remove the rind from the goat cheese, roughly chop it up into a bowl, and stir through 2 tablespoons of the honey. Spread the cheese mixture over the pastry shell, inside the borders – this may be easiest done with your fingers, depending on the consistency of the cheese.
Quarter the figs lengthwise and arrange cut-side-up over the cheese, sprinkle with thyme and a little black pepper and sea salt.
Brush the border with the remaining egg wash.
Bake in centre of oven for 15 minutes, until the border of the pastry is deep golden brown.
Allow to stand for 10 minutes, then drizzle with the remaining half tablespoon of honey before serving.