Published December 12, 2006.
Can tough, dried supermarket figs be turned into a tender, flavorful filling for this traditional Italian tart?
This is a typical "crostate"—a simple tart which typically combines an assertively flavored filling with a crumbly, sweet crust that Italians call "pasta frolla", or "tender dough". Classic American dough isn't sweet and flavorful enough to be an adequate substitute, and supermarket figs can be tough and lacking flavor.
We wanted to combine figs with crunchy walnuts in a sticky, citrus-scented paste slathered thick across a crisp, leavened crust.
We created a rich and sweet dough by perfecting an egg/butter balance (one whole egg and almost a full stick of butter), which we combined with baking powder, lemon zest, vanilla, and a moderate amount of sugar. The solution to dried figs turned out to be choosing the right type, either Turkish or Calimyrna. Mission figs were simply too tough and made for a filling punctuated with coarse, chewy bits. Finally, we learned that, unlike other pastry doughs, pasta frolla cooks through before it fully browns, allowing us abandon the step of prebaking the tart and making the tart even quicker to prepare.list of recipes