Tuesday, September 7, 2010
Peach & Fig Tart with Fennel Honey
This tart was brilliantly simple. I really wanted to make a rustic tart with minimal effort and no refined sugar. I also wanted a crust that was nutty and easy. I have been using local whole wheat flour on the rare occasions I have baked lately. A friend of our family has started his own grain CSA and the local coop sells his flour! The difference in taste between fresh flour and traditional store bought flour is almost startling. Freshly milled wheat has a toasty, almost nutty flavor; a pleasant surprise. I decided to mix wheat flour with almond flour and add some almonds to give it texture. I added butter to my crust, but thought about using coconut oil at first. I am sure that would work as a stand-in quite well.
The fennel honey I had been thinking about this past week. Fennel seems provoke a love/hate relationship for a lot of folks. I really like fennel in all its forms. I wondered if fennel infused in honey would pair well with figs. My infused honey was quite mild and it added a wonderful herbal note that brought out the muskiness of the figs and the perfume of the peaches. And, it was easy to make. I used a mortar and pestle to grind my fennel seeds. A coffee grinder would work well also. I can imagine that this honey would be great for little belly aches or to add to warm tea on cold winter days.
After mixing the ground fennel into the honey, I let it sit for about 3 hours to infuse. Then I heated it up on the stove so it would be easier to strain out the fennel. I used a metal tea strainer from a japanese tea pot, and poured the warm honey into a bowl. It worked really well and the tea strainer removed all the little bits of fennel better than a coarser metal kitchen strainer.
I did not bake the crust first, and I did not let the crust rest or chill before baking. I simply cut the fruit, arranged it in the tart pan and drizzled it with honey. Told you it was easy and rustic! I had two six year olds making manzanita berry tea and mud pies while I was trying to create this, so I took shortcuts to save time and it turned out working well.
One note: The crust recipe makes a bit more filling than my 9 inch tart pan could hold. I used that to make little free form tarts for the kids to snack on. They were very happy about that!
Last week I make some homemade peach ice cream that I wanted to serve with this tart. My ice cream maker broke last year, so I tried making it by hand in the freezer. David Lebovitz has a great article about how to do this...It went very well with the tart!
Peach & Fig Tart with Fennel Honey
6 fresh figs cut into 8 pieces each
4 med. peaches cut into 1 inch long slices (about 8-10 slices per peach)
1/2 lemon zest
1/3 + 1/8 cup honey (you will have some left over)
1 heaping tbls. fennel seeds roughly ground
Using a spice grinder or mortar and pestle roughly grind the fennel seeds and add to honey. Mix every 30 min. or so and let sit on counter for 2-3 hours. Pour into a saucepan and heat gently until the honey is warm. Pour through a tea steeper/strainer into a bowl and use a spoon to work any remaining honey out of the strainer and into the bowl. Set aside until you are ready to use.
1/2 cup skinned almonds (I used slivered and blanched)
1/2 cup almond flour
1 1/4 cup whole wheat flour
1 tbls maple syrup
7 tbls. cold butter
1/2 tsp. sea salt
To make crust, add all the ingredients in a food processor with pastry attachment and blend until it resembles wet sand. Add a little more maple syrup if it seems too dry. Press into tart pan about 1 inch thick. Arrange figs and peaches and zest the lemon over the tart. Drizzle about 1/3 cup of honey with a spoon over the tart. Bake at 350 degrees for about 35 min.