You haven’t known figs until you try a fresh one. Sure, the dried ones are available all year round, but there is nothing like the lusciously sweet taste and unique texture of fresh figs. Plump, soft, yielding, bright and juicy – no other fruit is as sensually pleasing. Delicate when fresh, bubbly when roasted, jammy when mashed. Oh, I could go on ravishing about this exotic fruit but I should probably stop lest there’ll be no end.
The appeal of the fig goes beyond its sensual delight. Here are some interesting information that you might want to go figure. Thought to originate in Asia Minor, humans have revered the common fig tree Ficus carica since antiquity. Fossil remains from the Jordan Valley indicate they have been cultivated for more than 11,000 years. In fact, the fig is the most talked about fruit in the Bible. For example, right in the beginning Genesis 3:7 indicates that the fig tree provided the first clothing for Adam and Eve: “… they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig eaves together and made coverings for themselves.” And henceforth, the fig leaf became the symbol of modesty, as you may see so often in Renaissance art.
Moreover, the fig is also a nutrition powerhouse – an excellent source of potassium, calcium, manganese and vitamin B6. So all the more seize the opportunity to load up on figs this season! Here is one idea how: make a Fig Galette!
The word Galette is derived from the French word “galet”, a weatherworn smooth pebble. In culinary terms, this refers to various types of flat cakes, including the crepe-like pancakes of Brittany and Normandy (Galette De Bretagne) as well as freeform pies. Today we are interested in the latter, because, what’s better than filling a dough purse stuffed full of bubbling roasty figs? Traditionally made with a butter-based pie crust or puffed pastry, I never thought that a vegan version was possible. Not until I came across several recipes using frozen coconut oil as substitute. I was very intrigued and couldn’t wait to try it out.
In fact this was my first time making a pie dough, vegan or not, so after some extensive research, here’s what I gleaned. Pie dough is made by cutting butter (or other solid fat) into flour until the butter and flour looks crumbly and has pieces of butter the size of peas. Then, just enough water is added to form the dough into a ball. Most importantly:
Keep things cold, very cold.
It is especially important for the fat to be cold because pockets of unmelted fat within the crust that melt away during baking are what makes a deliciously flaky pie. Thus, refrigerate the oil, flour and use ice-cold water when making the dough, and work quickly.
For a tender crust
Do not overwork the dough; over handling will lead develop the fluten and lead to a tough pie crust dough. Thus, also choose a low protein flour such as pastry flour. I used a blend of pastry flour and buckwheat flour for nuttiness and to make it more nutritious. Buckwheat flour is also gluten-free so I though it may work well. Nevertheless, all-purpose flour is readily available and works well for all pie crusts. Sift the flour before measuring it.
I understand that pictures speak more than words so below is a pictorial on how to make the coconut oil pie dough.
Assembling the galette is easy. I used an almond cream base and layered the figs on top, then folded in the edges to form a mini-dumpling. So cute isn’t it?!
First of all, I was very pleased and amazed at how the dough came out. It was pliable and very easy to work with, though you need to let the dough “defrost” slightly after chilling because coconut oil becomes very hard when chilled and takes even longer than butter to melt. Second, I have to admit that the crust didn’t come out flaky at all. Nope, no beautiful layers of flaky pastry was in sight. Instead, it came out crumbly, but in an oh-so-delightful crunchy graham-cracker style. That was exactly my first thought when I bit into the crust: Mmm…graham crackers!
With the bubbling hot cinnamon-spiced figs sizzling in its sugars and in all its glory, this was pure perfigtion. Crunchy graham base with pulpy caramelized figs, and a heady almond cream to pair the two together – this galette is definitely worth making. It’s a free-form tart; you don’t need a lot of skill yet it presents a level of rustic sophistication that will surely impress. This is what I call a cheat dish!
- Pie Dough
- 3/4 cup flour (I used 1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour + 1/4 cup buckwheat flour)
- 1/4 cup coconut oil, frozen until solid
- 2-3 tablespoons ice-cold water (I used 2 1/2 tablespoons)
- 1/2 tablespoon sugar
- 1/8 teaspoon sea salt
- Almond Cream
- 1/4 cup almonds, soaked overnight
- 1/2 large Medjool date, soaked and pitted
- 2 tablespoons non-dairy milk (soy, almond, rice, coconut)
- 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
- Fig Layer
- 3-5 figs, depending on size
- 1/2 teaspoon sugar
- Ground cinnamon
- In a medium bowl, combine flour, sugar and salt. Add the cubes of frozen coconut oil from the ice tray. Using a pastry cutter or two knives, cut the coconut oil into the flour mixture until the texture becomes lumpy, with the pieces of coconut oil no larger than small peas. Add the water and knead with your hand just until the dough pulls together. Alternatively, the dough can be made using the food processor.
- Turn the dough out onto a piece of plastic wrap and pat into a round disk. Wrap tightly with a cling film and chill for at least 30 minutes (can be prepared ahead).
- In a food processor, combine the almonds, dates, milk and almond extract and process until smooth and creamy. Place the almond cream in a small bowl and refrigerate to thicken.
- Once the dough has chilled, preheat the oven to 350°F/175°C.
- On a floured work surface, roll the dough out to a circle of 1/8″-1/4-inch thick.
- Place the galette dough onto a baking sheet. Spread with the almond cream mixture, leaving a 1.5-inch border around the edge. Arrange the figs concentrically from the center. Lift the edge of the dough and fold over filling to make a nice, crimped border.
- You may choose to refrigerate the dough if it has become too soft. Bake at 350°F/175°C for 45-50 minutes until figs are bubbling slightly and edges are golden brown. Remove from oven and allow to cool before slicing and serving.
I just had to shove this picture up your face. Enjoy!