Fig Frangipane Tart and falling for Florence

I have to admit that my love affair with Florence did not start with the typical “love at first sight:” But it wasn’t far off. I was a twenty-year-old art student when I had my first taste of living in Florence, exactly ten years ago.

I arrived at the train station with my luggage and not much else – no where to stay, nothing booked, no contacts. I can’t imagine ever doing that now but I guess I was more of a spontaneous traveller when I was younger. Luckily I didn’t even have to think about any ‘what ifs,’ as I almost immediately found a little flyer advertising a room in a shared apartment. I phoned straight away and in my very broken Italian at the time, got myself a place to live.

I remember arriving at about lunchtime and meeting my roommates for the first time in the kitchen – the room that everyone congregated in, at all times of the day. There were two Mexicans, a Chilean, two English girls, and a Dane (later another – the only boy – joined in, the Mexicans left and a Dutch girl took their place). But it always felt like there were even more people in the house and it soon came to feel like one big extended, international family.

The apartment was right off Piazza Santa Croce on via de’ Pepi, but the kitchen window looked out over via del Fico, street of the figs. The kitchen is where all my best memories are held. It was where all the action took place. It was where Chanette, my Danish roommate, would make bread rolls to warm up the house in the autumn when the heaters wouldn’t turn on until after 6pm. It was where I drank countless cups of tea with my English roommates, Katy and Kathryn. It was where we planned where our regular Sunday day trip would be, Lucca in the pouring rain or a picnic in the Boboli Gardens. It was where Javiera and her fellow Chilean architecture students would fill the house with their festive get-togethers, instantly turning any regular evening into a party.

And it was from here in the kitchen, late at night,that irresistible smells from an invisible bakery would waft up from via del Fico below. It was the heart and soul of the house and the true place where I first fell in love with Florence, my Florence.

Via del Fico, they say, is most likely named after large fig tree that grew in one of the gardens on this street, hidden from sight by thick palazzo walls. The following recipe is inspired by the smell of our kitchen at night and the street of the figs, ten years ago. The frangipane part of the recipe happened by accident, while trying to make Artusi’s Budino di Ricotta and I realised after grinding the almonds that I didn’t have ricotta… But more on that later.

The pastry recipe is adapted from one of Artusi’s three recipes for pasta frolla.

Fig frangipane tart

Pastry:

  • 250 grams of flour
  • 125 grams of cold butter
  • 100 grams of icing sugar
  • 1 small egg plus 1 small egg yolk

Frangipane:

  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 100 grams of almonds
  • 50 grams of butter
  • 50 grams of sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 500 grams of fresh, mature figs

Note that these quantities will give you enough to make a large tart plus some extra left over. I like to save this extra pastry in my freezer, you never know when later you’re trying to make a crostata and you need some extra for the lattice top!

To make the pastry, chop the cold butter into small pieces and add to the flour and sugar. I always use my hands for this next bit but you can do this in a food processor if you like. With your fingers, rub the butter into the flour until you get a crumbly mixture and there are no more visible pieces of butter. Mix in the beaten egg plus an extra yolk until the pastry comes together into a smooth, elastic ball. Do not over handle the dough, but if it is a bit too sticky, add a bit of flour (this will depend on the size of the eggs you use). Let it rest in the fridge for at least 30 minutes – as Artusi says if you do this the day before, even better.

After resting the dough, roll out  the pastry on a floured surface to cover your pie dish and prick holes with a fork all over the pastry.

Prepare the frangipane by first pulsing the almonds in a food processor until fine and grainy. Add the butter, sugar and an egg and pulse again until it becomes a paste.  Stir in the lemon zest and turn the mixture out onto the pastry.

Add the fig halves, face up, to cover the entire tart, I like to start from the centre. Push the figs down gently into the frangipane so that the surface is even.

Bake at 180° Celsius for about 35-45 minutes or until golden brown.

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Comments

17 Responses to “Fig Frangipane Tart and falling for Florence”
  1. Rosa says:

    That tart is beautiful and very tempting! I love frangipani.

    Cheers,

    Rosa

  2. I adore fresh figs at this time of year, but sometimes they’re not quite perfect in the UK. Cooking them into a beautiful tart like this is such a perfect idea – slightly sweetened, caramelized and totally delicious. I love Florence too, and this tart is the perfect celebration of a beautiful city.

  3. Zita says:

    This is wonderful, Emiko! I love fresh fig but unfortunatelly it’s ver rare in Hungary. I need to bake this tart!

  4. Regula says:

    You must have had a wonderful time… I love figs but as in Hungary they are very rare in Belgium. This tart looks delicious!

  5. This fig frangipane tart looks divine! And, I very much enjoyed reading about your first time in Florence – very Auberge Espagnole. It reminds me of the two summers I spent there.

    • Emiko says:

      I have to admit I didn’t know Auberge Espagnole and had to google it! But now I know what you mean, I’m sure it’s a similar experience to many others who came to Florence to study and fell in love with it the way I did, with a group of like-minded friends :)

  6. Vegan Miam says:

    Like your pictures! Wish it’s vegan! Love it.
    x

    • Emiko says:

      Thank you! I wish I could give you a good vegan substitute for this but it’s not my forte. If you have a good vegan short crust pastry recipe you could use that and perhaps substitute the egg and butter in the frangipane with some pureed apples? If anyone else has ideas on this, I’d love to hear them too!

  7. Finally back home after FBC11 and managing to catch up on things i.e. visit some blogs. How glad I did – your site is absolutely gorgeous. It was a pleasure to meet you and I’m going to be a regular visitor here.

  8. Francesca says:

    Your story sounds familiar – almost from the script of “L’Auberge Espagnol”! Thank you for sharing it with us!! No figs here yet but when they come I will try this recipe.

  9. Kassandra says:

    I’ll be trying this out in honor of Via dei Pepi! Can’t believe I missed this part of the post before:)

  10. Angie says:

    Hi Emiko, I’m a friend of Kelly and Ale, but I actually found your blog through another blog that I love, Parla Food. I was telling Kelly just the other day what a big fan I am of your blog. Your photography is incredible and the way you write about things really makes me miss certain parts of living in Italy (i.e. the food). I’m absolutely crazy over figs so I thought this was the perfect opportunity to tell you how much I enjoy your photos and writing since this fig tart looks incredible! (As does the honey in the next post!)

  11. Fragolina says:

    i also loved Florence. I stayed only for 4 days, but they were enough to love it. we had very delicious food. the simple spaghetti al pomodoro. yummmiiii amazing. I would definitely go back. And Lucca is just amazing.

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