Friday, November 27, 2009

Fig Crostata

With this dense, lattice-crusted crostata, I was thinking fig.
This ambitious figurative work is from this month’s (big sob) final issue of Gourmet Magazine. It was more labor-intensive than they let on, but it proved to be a crowd-pleaser at Thanksgiving. I had been wanting to try a fig tart for a while, and this deep, crostata variety was my debut. Like a lot of desserts, it was even better the next day.

A couple of notes: I used more than a tablespoon of cold water in the pie crust (but if you’ve made pie crusts, you know the dance). I also cooked it 10 - 20 minutes longer than it said to, but my oven temperature has been fluctuating more than a menopausal mama.


A rich filling is studded with walnuts and imbued with citrusy notes of orange, then packaged between a crust and a lattice top, both made from the cookie-like pastry dough known as pasta frolla in Italy.

For pastry dough:

2 cups all-purpose flour

1/4 cup granulated sugar plus additional for sprinkling

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 sticks cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes

2 large egg yolks

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 tablespoon cold water

For fig filling:

12 ounces soft dried figs (preferably Calmyrna), stemmed and coarsely chopped

1 1/4 cups water

1 cup fresh orange juice

1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar

1 stick unsalted butter, melted and cooled

3 large eggs, lightly beaten

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 teaspoon grated orange zest

1 1/2 cups walnuts (6 ounces), coarsely chopped

Equipment: a 9-inch springform pan

Accompaniment: mascarpone

Make pastry dough:
Blend together flour, sugar, salt, and butter in a bowl with your fingertips or a pastry blender (or pulse in a food processor) just until mixture resembles coarse meal with some roughly pea-size butter lumps. Add yolks, vanilla, and water and gently stir with a fork (or pulse) until incorporated and dough begins to form large clumps.

Turn out dough onto a lightly floured surface and divide into 4 portions. With heel of your hand, smear each portion once or twice in a forward motion to help distribute fat. Gather all dough together (using a pastry scraper if you have one), then divide dough in half and form each half into a 5- to 6-inch disk. Chill, wrapped in plastic wrap, until firm, at least 1 hour.

Make fig filling while dough chills: 
Simmer figs, water, orange juice, and brown sugar in a medium saucepan, covered, stirring occasionally, until figs are soft and mixture is reduced to about 2 cups, 15 to 20 minutes. Pulse in a food processor until finely chopped (mixture should not be smooth). Transfer to a large bowl and cool slightly. Stir in butter, eggs, vanilla, zest, and walnuts.

Make tart shell: 
Preheat oven to 350°F with rack in middle. Generously butter springform pan. Roll out 1 portion of dough between 2 sheets of parchment paper into a 12-inch round (dough will be soft; chill or freeze briefly if it becomes difficult to work with). Peel off top sheet of parchment and carefully invert dough into pan. (Dough will tear easily but can be patched together with your fingers.) Press dough onto bottom and 1 inch up side of pan, then trim excess. Chill tart shell until ready to assemble crostata.

Roll out remaining dough between 2 sheets of parchment paper into a 12-inch round. Peel off top sheet of parchment, then cut dough into 10 (1-inch-wide) strips and slide (still on parchment) onto a tray. Chill until firm, about 10 minutes.

Assemble crostata: 
Spread fig filling in shell. Arrange 5 strips of dough 1 inch apart on filling. Arrange remaining 5 strips 1 inch apart across first strips to form a lattice. Trim edges of strips flush with edge of shell. Sprinkle crostata with sugar.

Bake until filling is slightly puffed and pastry is pale golden, about 30 minutes. Cool completely, then remove side of pan. Serve crostata with mascarpone.

Cooks' notes:

•Dough can be chilled up to 3 days.
•Crostata can be made 1 day ahead and kept at room temperature.


  1. Hi! Found you via Smitten Kitchen(had to know who would have such an awesome name). This looks fab. I think it's going on the dessert buffet next to Deb's ridonkulous cheesecake. It can be the fruit course!

  2. Jen, let me know how it turns out if you make it!

  3. Yummy! I love figs. I pick hundreds of them fresh and freeze them for winter use. Try using olive oil for any cakes you make and replace the stick of buter in this recipe with olive oil; tastier and healthier than any other fat. The crust has to be butter though,no doubt.

  4. Hmmm, I'm a big olive oil practitioner, but I'll have to mull that one over! I still think for baking, butta is betta!