Some scholars believe the fig to be the original forbidden fruit picked by Eve in the Garden of Eden and provider of man’s (and woman’s) first foray into fashion in the form of a fig leaf covering for their genitals. Since then the prominence and usefulness of fig leaves have risen and fallen in a rough correlation with the prevailing morals and mores of the day.
The first unveiling of Michelangelo’s David was pelted with rocks as Florentines expressed shock at its nakedness and a covering fashioned from many fig leaves was swiftly placed upon it. The Vatican of the Renaissance was not as relaxed about public nudity as its creators and the same was assumed about Queen Victoria, centuries later. Visit a vault under the Victoria and Albert Museum in London and you will find an outsized Fig leaf made to cover the genitalia of the replica statue of David whenever she came to visit the galleries
The fruit of this bushes’ loins have never fallen from grace in many parts of the world though, whether they be growers or importers of the Fig. Native to Caria–an ancient region of Asia Minor between the Mediterranean and Black Seas and now able to be grown in the less balmy climes of Great Britain, the fig is a natural bedfellow to all manner of indulgent and positively biblical foodstuffs- milk and honey and spices, used to perfume, preserve and enhance that which they are cooked with.
However in the case of the Fig we are not bashful about serving it fully nude as long as it is also resplendently ripe; the flesh should yield to a squeeze, droplets of the sugary juices gathering at the bottom of the fruit. Figs don’t really ripen after picking, they just get softer without an improvement in flavour so you must buy them at peak of ripeness and be ready to eat them immediately. However the slightly under ripe imported figs you see in store can be made more luscious by roasting or stewing into a compote and this tart, published here with the kind permission of Muy Bueno website is the perfect way to enjoy them.
These fig tarts are simple to make with only three ingredients — ready made pie crust, honey, and of course the star of the show…figs. Figs drizzled with honey and baked soften and sweeten the fruit and adds a delicious roasted flavor. Sprinkle the pastries with some raw sugar and you have a lovely sweet pastry to enjoy for dessert; don’t use soft sugar either, you need the crunch of Demerara. Gives 6 servings.
1 sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed according to package directions
1 pound figs, cut into ½” wedges
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
Cut pastry into six 4” squares, place on a parchment-lined baking sheet, and prick all over with a fork.
Top with figs, leaving a ½” border. Sprinkle with sugar.
Bake tarts until edges of pastry are puffed and golden brown, 20 to 25 minutes. Drizzle with honey and sprinkle with more sugar just before servings.
Reprinted here with full permission from Muy Bueno cookbook.