Impress when entertaining with these mini pizzas topped with creamy mozzarella, sweet fruit and salty Italian ham
- knob of butter
- 3 shallots, finely diced
- 250g full-fat crème fraîche
- 50g Parmesan, finely grated
- 4 ripe figs, cut into chunks
- 125g ball good-quality buffalo mozzarella, roughly torn
- 2 handfuls rocket
- 6 slices prosciutto, torn into strips
- 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 tbsp good balsamic vinegar
- 400g strong white bread flour, plus extra for dusting
- 7g sachet fast-action dried yeast
- 1 tsp salt
- 4 tbsp olive oil
MethodMeasure 250ml hand-warm water into a jug, add the oil, then tip into the flour mixture. Mix together with a wooden spoon, followed by your hands, to make a wet dough – add a splash more warm water if needed. Cover with oiled cling film and leave somewhere warm-ish to rise for 1 hr or until doubled in size. Heat the butter, then soften the shallots and set aside.
- 750g mixed dried fruit
- 100g blanched whole almond, roughly chopped
- 100g chopped peel
- 200g dried fig, roughly chopped
- 100g glacé cherry, well rinsed and quartered
- 300g plain flour
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp grated nutmeg
- zest 1 lemon
- 250g lightly salted butter
- 250g light muscovado sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 tbsp clear honey
- 1 tbsp black treacle
- 4 large eggs
- ½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
- 1 tbsp milk
- 3 tbsp brandy, plus extra to feed
- Heat oven to 140C/120C fan/gas 1. Line the base and sides of a 20cm cake tin first with a double layer of brown paper, then with a double layer of baking parchment. In a large bowl, mix the fruit, almonds, peel, figs and cherries. Turn well and add the flour, spices and lemon zest. In a separate bowl, cream the butter and sugar thoroughly, then add the vanilla extract, honey and treacle. Still beating, incorporate the eggs, then stir in the fruit and flour mixture. Dissolve the bicarbonate of soda in the milk and stir in thoroughly. Add the brandy by the spoonful, until you have a soft dropping consistency.
- Turn the batter into the cake tin and make a dip in the middle using the back of a spoon. Bake for 3½ hrs, then insert a skewer – if it comes out clean, it’s ready. If there is any cake mix on the skewer, give it 10 mins more and test again. When it’s done, remove the cake from the oven and leave to cool in its tin. The next day, remove from the tin, wrap in fresh greaseproof paper, then put it into an airtight tin or wrap tightly in foil. The usual thing is to keep the cake for at least a month before icing it, and to unwrap and sprinkle it occasionally with more brandy.
- 500g pack shortcrust pastry at room temperature, thawed if frozen
- 8 ripe figs, stalks trimmed
- finely grated zest of one large juicy orange
- 1 tbsp clear honey
- 200g softened butter
- 200g golden caster sugar
- 200g packet ground almonds
- 2 medium egg yolks
- Preheat the oven to fan 180C/ conventional 200C/gas 6. Roll out pastry on a lightly floured surface and use to line a shallow loose-bottomed 25cm flan tin (
watch our videoto see how to do this. Make sure the pastry comes above the rim – it may shrink in baking and the filling could spill. Chill for 30 minutes.
- Meanwhile, cut the figs in half lengthways and sit them cut side up on a roasting tray. Mix the orange juice and honey in a bowl, pour over the figs and roast for 10-12 minutes until just soft. Drain off any juice into a saucepan and reserve.
- Prick the base of the chilled pastry case all over with a fork, then line with greaseproof paper and fill with baking beans. Bake blind for 15 minutes. Remove the paper and beans and bake for a further 5-10 minutes until the pastry is golden. Remove from the oven and reduce the temperature to fan 130C/conventional 150C/ gas 2. Leave the pastry case to cool slightly before filling.
- Cream butter and sugar in a food processor or with an electric beater until smooth and pale. Tip in the ground almonds and zest and whizz briefly to combine. Add egg yolks and 1 tbsp of the reserved fig juice and whizz again until smooth. Spread evenly over the pastry case.
- Gently press the figs cut side up into the almond mixture. Bake for 11⁄4 hours or until it’s golden all over (don’t worry if the centre still seems soft – a little gooeyness is good). Leave in the tin for 15 minutes, then remove sides and transfer on its base to a wire rack to cool.
- Before serving, take the tart off its base and transfer to a flat platter or board. If you have juice left from roasting the figs, bring it to the boil and simmer for 1-2 minutes until sticky and syrupy. Brush this over the figs and serve as soon as possible, while the syrup is still glossy on the figs (it will start to seep through into the filling if you leave it too long).
- 200g fine green bean, trimmed
- 6 small figs, quartered
- 1 shallot, thinly sliced
- 1 x 125g ball mozzarella, drained and ripped into chunks
- 50g hazelnut, toasted and chopped
- small handful basil leaves, torn
- 3 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 1 tbsp fig jam or relish
- 3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
- In a large saucepan of salted water, blanch the beans for 2-3 mins. Drain, rinse in cold water, then drain on kitchen paper. Arrange on a platter. Top with the figs, shallots, mozzarella, hazelnuts and basil.
- In a small bowl or jam jar with fitted lid, add the vinegar, fig jam, olive oil and some seasoning. Shake well and pour over salad just before serving.