The humble fig by FOUR The World’s Best Food Magazine. Featuring Tom Aikens Patron/ Chef of Tom’s Kitchen

Posted by Samantha Rentz on October 18th 2012
  • “The proper way to eat a fig, in society, is to split it in four, holding it by the stump, and open it so that it is a glittering, rosy, moist, honied, heavy-petalled four-petalled flower” DH Lawrence


The versatility of this humble fruit makes the fig a brilliant starter or salad dish (try with foie gras or served with Parma or Serrano ham), a sweet contrast to some of the rich meats of the season (try venison, duck or pheasant) or simply served with ice cream for an indulgent dessert.


  • Fig tart with cinnamon ice cream – Tom Aikens



Fig tarte fine


  • 400g of puff pastry
  • 160g of figs
  • Icing sugar for dusting
  • Cinnamon powder for dusting


Crème pâtissière


  • 150ml of milk
  • 1/2 vanilla pod, split and seeds scraped
  • 30g of caster sugar
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 20g of plain flour


Cinnamon ice cream


  • 300ml of milk
  • 300ml of double cream
  • 2 vanilla pods, split and scraped, seeds reserved
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 250g of caster sugar
  • 6 egg yolks
  • 1 tsp of cinnamon powder


For the cinnamon ice cream, place the milk and cream into a pan with the vanilla beans and cinnamon sticks. Bring this up to a low heat until it starts to steam. Remove the pan from the heat, and leave for 5 minutes to infuse.

In a bowl, mix the egg yolks with the sugar, cinnamon powder and reserved vanilla seeds from the pods, then whisk for 3-4 minutes.

Pour the infused milk into the bowl with the egg mix, and whisk these together. Place the mixture back into the pan, stirring with a wooden spoon on a low heat for 5-8 minutes until thick. Once thick, tip into a clean bowl straight away to cool.

Leave the cream mixture at room temperature for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Then, place in the fridge to cool.

Place the cream mixture into an ice cream maker to churn, or place in the freezer to set. If you are placing this in your freezer it will take longer to set, and you will need to keep stirring every 10 minutes or so until it has frozen.

CHURNING ICE CREAM AND SORBET: If you turn the ice-cream maker on 5 minutes before churning, it will guarantee that the mixture being churned cools at a faster, more consistent rate. Check on the ice cream and sorbet as it churns and consult the ice cream maker’s instruction manual before use


For the crème pâtissière, put the milk and vanilla pod into a pan and bring up to a slow simmer. In a mixing bowl, cream the sugar with the egg yolks and whisk until white. Add the flour and stir well, then slowly pour on the hot milk, whisking vigorously.

Place the mixture back in the pan on a medium heat and bring the mixture up to a simmer, stirring with a wooden spoon – the cream should begin to thicken. Cook for 2-4 minutes, continually stirring, then pass the cream through a fine sieve into a bowl. Cover the crème pâtissière with cling film and leave to cool.

To begin the fig tart, reheat the oven to 220ºC/gas mark 7 with the baking tray heating inside. Take the puff pastry out of the fridge and spread with the crème pâtissière. Slice the figs 2mm thick and lay them on top of the cream. Dust the figs in icing sugar all over until well covered, and sprinkle with a little cinnamon powder.

Place the tart straight on the hot tray in the oven so the bottom will cook instantly and not be soggy. Bake the fig tart for 20-25 minutes until golden. Serve hot with the cinnamon ice cream.


Image: Courtesy of Great British Chefs, David Griffen.

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