Fig Tart, by Phil Skinazi, Gleneagles’ Executive Pastry Chef

Autumn is one of my favourite times of year. The abundance of fresh produce, combined with the range of chutneys and jams we’ve been preserving since spring, provides a rich culinary kaleidoscope of flavours and ingredients with which to cook.

Figs are in season from late summer to early autumn and are associated in the UK with that bountiful harvest. The fig brings a flourish of colour to the plate, from mauve, dark purple and pale blush to crimson and deep ruby, depending on the variety.

You might say that the UK has been playing catch-up on figs over the last few years, as our appreciation for their lusciously sweet, slightly earthy flavour and soft, chewy and meaty texture has taken hold.

When I was growing up in the 1980s, many people’s only association with them was snacking on those unappetising fig roll biscuits – dry parcels of pastry filled with a bland fruity jam – but for millennia in the Middle East and the Mediterranean, figs have been regarded as a super food, prized for their beauty and flavour, and used in a range of sweet and savoury dishes.

Figs come from one of the world’s oldest species of tree, the ficus tree. They’re not technically a fruit, but rather inverted or internally-blooming flowers which later mature into the fruit we eat.

Their natural sweetness meant that, before refined sugars, figs were often used as a sweetener. It’s said they were held in such esteem by the ancient Greeks that laws were established to stop them being exported!

In France and Italy, there are many wonderful pastry dishes containing figs and this recipe celebrates that tradition. It makes a wonderful family dessert or a show-stopping centrepiece for any autumn or winter table, and we’re currently serving it on our Birnam Brasserie menu.

For me, the striking colours mimic those breath-taking autumnal vistas when the leaves turn to gold, copper and red.

There’s a rough puff pastry base on the bottom, on top of which we add an almond cream. We make our own pastry, but for ease, ready-made puff pastry will also work fine. You then start to build up layers of thinly-sliced figs, and also incorporate a delicious fig jam which you make using dried figs, port, sugar, vanilla and cinnamon.

We also add a sugar glaze, known as a nappage, on top, to keep all the moisture in the tart. The technical name for this type of pastry is a tarte fine.

We serve it warm with a homemade vanilla ice-cream – keeping it simple in order to keep the attention on the main act, the delicious figs. Creme fraiche, custard or plain Greek yoghurt would also go wonderfully with this tart.

Makes 8/10 portions


For the almond creme:

  • 50g icing sugar
  • 50g butter
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 egg
  • 50g ground almonds, roasted

For the tart:

  • 350g ready-made puff pastry
  • 25 medium figs, sliced
  • 25g demerara sugar
  • 70g melted unsalted butter
  • Apricot gel, to glaze


1. Pre-heat the oven to 190C.

2. Start by preparing the almond creme. In a mixing bowl cream the butter, salt, icing sugar, add the egg.

3. Add the ground almonds and mix well to combine, then place into the fridge to cool.

4. Roll the puff pastry to approximately 3mm thickness and prick all over with a fork.

5. Next, cut the pastry into an 11 inch circle using a large bowl or plate to guide you, then fold the edges of the pastry inwards to form a shallow indent.

6. Spread a thin layer of the almond creme over the base and arrange the sliced figs neatly, slightly overlapping.

7. Brush the figs with the melted butter and sprinkle with some demerara sugar.

8. Place the tart in the pre-heated oven and bake for 20 minutes then flip and continue baking for a further 5 to 10 minutes or until the base is golden.

9. Allow to cool slightly before flipping the tart again so that the figs are facing upward.

10. Glaze with apricot gel, cut and serve.

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