Pie-a-Day #37: Figgy Pie a la Francaise

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I am a member of the Roots of Change Stewardship Council.  ROC is a fund that supports activities and organizations which further the mission of a sustainable food system in California by 2030.  This week a few of us gathered with like-minded politicos and NGO’s in LA who share the dream of a more equitable food system for the Southland.  One of us brought a big bag of fresh homegrown figs that sustained us during the meeting.  Of course, I immediately piped up “I have dibs on any leftover figs for a pie.”  Luckily, no one contested me.  And they were perfect – Big Black beauties, the skins just slightly cracking, inside jammy red succulence, that tasted sweet and complex.

I was attracted by the simplicity of the dish.  This is the first time I watched a culinary preparation on video then made it myself.  It really gives one confidence to be able to watch it first.  What do they say in medicine about surgery?  Study one, watch one, do one?

First you take puff pastry, cut a circle, prick it all over with a fork and bake it.  In order to prevent the paste from puffing up too much I like to weight it down with a sheet pan or in this case, another pie pan.  Bake the disc until it it lightly browned, like a big cookie.  Let it cool.

Meanwhile, peel the figs and smash them in a bowl with a fork.  Add a bit of ground cinnamon, ground cardamom, and powdered sugar.  Mix it all together with a fork. The sugar is starchy and will help the fruit puree hold together.  As I was squishing the figs with the fork it occurred to me that they could actually use a little cornstarch as a thickener, so in addition to the powdered sugar I added about 2 teaspoons of cornstarch and mixed it in well.

When the pastry discs were completely cooled I spooned on the fig mixture.  I then sprinkled more powdered sugar over the fig mixture using a small sieve.  Then I baked them in a preheated 375 degree oven for 20 minutes.  Wow, it’s taken longer to write this than it did to make them.  Beautiful, simple, delicious, and most surprising of all, not too sweet.  The spices add just the touch it needs.