Requires: 12 x 35cm fluted tart tin with removable base, baking beads or rice, plastic wrap (cling film), and rolling pin
In a food processor (with the metal blade inserted): Process the flour, butter and salt until the texture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Add the icing sugar, eggs, vanilla bean and lemon zest. Mix until the dough just starts to come together.
Alternatively, by hand: Combine the flour, butter and salt in a bowl. Use your fingertips to rub the butter into the flour until the texture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Add the icing sugar, eggs, vanilla bean and lemon zest. Mix by hand until the dough just starts to come together.
Note: 00 is a powder-fine Italian type of flour. It is made from soft wheat varieties, and is frequently used in Italian desserts and pastas. 00 flour is available in most supermarkets, Italian food stores and gourmet delicatessens.
Turn the pastry onto a clean, lightly floured work surface and lightly knead to bring together. Gather the dough with your hands to form a ball. Wrap in plastic wrap (cling film) and refrigerate for 1 hour.
Preheat the oven to 180°C conventional oven/ 160°C fan-forced (350° Fahrenheit/Gas 4).
To make the tart filling, use an electric mixer to beat the thickened cream and icing sugar (confectioners’ sugar) in a medium-sized bowl until soft peaks form. Use a wooden spoon to fold the mascarpone into the cream until smooth and combined. Refrigerate until ready to use.
Grease a 12 x 35cm fluted tart tin with butter. Turn the dough onto a large sheet of non-stick baking paper. Use a rolling pin to roll out the dough to a thickness of 7-8mm. It should be large enough to fit the base and sides of the tin (allowing a slight overhang). Flour the rolling pin well and gently roll up the sweet pastry dough around the rolling pin. Unroll the sweet pastry dough into the tart tin. Trim the edge by running the rolling pin across the top of the tin, then gently push the pastry a little above the edge of the tin. Use a fork to prick the base all over. Line the pastry with baking paper. Fill the tart tin with baking beads or rice. Blind bake for 15 minutes. Remove the baking beads or rice. Bake for a further 15 minutes or until the pastry base is cooked through and the edges are lightly golden. Set aside to cool to room temperature.
Meanwhile to make the caramelised fig topping, place the caster sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice, cinnamon and mixed spice in a large, non-stick frying pan. Bring to the boil, then add the quartered figs. Cook for 2-3 minutes, pouring the liquid over the figs from time to time, then remove from the heat. Set aside to cool.
Spoon or pipe the mascarpone and cream filling into the pastry shell. Arrange the caramelised figs on top of the mascarpone and cream filling, pressing the figs in slightly. Drizzle any remaining sugar syrup over the figs. The caramelised fig and mascarpone tart is ready to serve – Buon appetito