Bewitched, bothered and bewildered

September. Time for new season's resolutions, full body scrubs to keep our sunkissed skin tight...and preserves. Loads of them, may they be fruits or vegetables based. Over the summer I spent a good amount of time food researching in my native land, Puglia, and spent entire afternoons picking the most luscious gastronomic delicacies. Wearing a straw hat, which I often filled with enchanting tomatoes, I would go to my favourite fig tree and laid there with a book. It was full midday heat one august fine day when, after a few pages and far too many mosquito bites I headed back home, and I came across a recipe idea that could convey both the figs deliciousness and the summer freshness. I posted its result on my Instagram feed and I am now publishing its sought after recipe following my lovely followers request.

Figs Pie

For the shortcrust pastry:

  • 500 gr. all purpose flour
  • 250 gr. cold butter (not the spreadable version)
  • 1 unwaxed organic lemon zest
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 80 gr. caster sugar
  • a pinch of salt

For the filling:

  • 350 gr. fresh figs
  • 100 gr. almonds
  • 1 lemon

Start off by preparing the shortcrust pastry. In a mixer place the flour, a pinch of salt and the butter right out of the fridge, cut into chunks. Blend all the ingredients until the mixture is sandy and chalky-looking; place the obtained mixture on a work surface (or alternatively in a bowl) and add the sifted icing sugar.

Make a well in the center and pour in the lemon zest and egg yolks (you can also flavor with orange zest, the seeds of vanilla bean or cinnamon). Start to mix the ensemble with a fork first, then when the eggs have absorbed the flour you can continue by hand. Knead briefly, just long enough to compact the mixture so that the crust doesn't get too hot with the heat of your hands and thus remains brittle. Form a dough and flatten it before you wrap it in plastic wrap; store it in the refrigerator to firm up for at least 30 minutes.

Pre-heat the oven at 180°. Unwrap the figs from their skin and put them in a pan, leaving 3 fruits aside for decoration; with the help of a mixer, mince finely 80 gr. of almonds until floury, then add them to the figs, spray the juice of a lemon on top and let the whole ensemble cook on a medium-low heat for about 15 minutes.

Have a pie tin of around 20 cm. of diameter ready. Take the shortcrust pastry off the fridge, remove the foil and tap the dough with your own hands on the pie tin. Fill the pie with the figs conserve and decorate with slices of fresh figs and the remaining almonds, roughly chopped.

Bewitched, bothered and bewildered. That's how I remain, often enough, at the site of my Italy. Gaining access to astonishment is ever so easy, just by turning a corner from a tiny pedestrian sidestreet to a magnificent Renaissance style landscape, just keep my eyes ready for surprises over and over again. Knowing that the season will be delightful and the best... oh yes, the best is yet to come.