What’s cooking today: Red fig, bacon & blue cheese Tarte Tatin

What’s cooking today: Red fig, bacon & blue cheese Tarte Tatin
Tony Jackman’s red fig, bacon and blue cheese Tarte Tatin recipe on a Mervyn Gers platter. (Photo: Tony Jackman)

This fresh take on a classic Tarte Tatin is a hybrid of a dessert and cheese course, partly sweet and partly savoury.

A Tarte Tatin, the famous French upside down tart traditionally based on apples, has an inherent savoury quality even as the wonderful dessert that it is, thanks to the saltiness of the puff pastry. Unlike many desserts involving pastry, this base is never sweet.

I took this idea, of both sweetness and saltiness, as the kick-off point for a dish that celebrates the red figs that are in season now while giving it an element of a cheese course by the simple addition of crumbled blue cheese as soon as the tart comes out of the oven. So no cheese is actually cooked with it; it’s almost a garnish in a sense.

But it needed more. Enter that hero of a million dishes: bacon. And with that, the dish becomes a main event in itself. We actually had it for supper one evening.

You could, however, bring it out as a proper conversation piece at the end of a dinner party. If it were me, I wouldn’t tell the guests what was in store, just mumble something about “just fetching the pud” and then watch their reactions once they put their spoons in. Fun. And surprises always add something to the dinner table.

Alternatively, bring a fig, bacon and blue cheese Tarte Tatin out as part of a cheese board with other cheeses and preserves. I’d precede that with fairly light courses though.

The tart caramelising. (Photo: Tony Jackman)


1 packet frozen puff pastry, thawed

16 red figs

250 g bacon, diced

¼ cup butter

⅓ cup sugar

3 Tbsp of the syrup from a jar of green fig preserves

A little lemon juice

150 g blue cheese, crumbled or cubed


Melt butter in a heavy ovenproof frying pan with the sugar and fig syrup, on a very low heat. Leave it to caramelise slowly, keeping an eye on it while you prepare the figs and dice the bacon.

Halve the red figs and rub lemon juice over them. Tilt the pan this way and that to help even out the browning of the sugar.

When it is pleasingly golden all over, add bacon dice here and there.

Now place the halved figs round side down around the edge, and more circles of them until the whole pan is covered. Place some of them cut side down for contrast. You can do this in alternating circles as I did or in strips or a pattern you like.

Let the figs and bacon cook in the syrup on a gentle simmer on a very low heat for about 15 to 20 minutes very gently or until the buttery syrup is nicely caramelised all over.

Roll out the pastry on a floured board and cut out a round just a little bigger than the width of the pan. Lay it over the top, then tuck the edges underneath using the handle of a dessert spoon.

Prick the pastry all over with a fork.

Place in a preheated 200℃ oven until the pastry is crisp and golden, about 20 to 25 minutes. Turn out onto a large plate, by holding the plate over the top of the pan and then turning it over deftly and firmly, without letting it slide off the plate once turned. Scatter blue cheese over immediately, to begin to melt into it. DM/TGIFood

Read The Strange Case of the Tarte Tatin here.

Mervyn Gers Ceramics supplies dinnerware for the styling of some TGIFood shoots. For more information, click here.

Follow Tony Jackman on Instagram @tony_jackman_cooks. Share your versions of his recipes with him on Instagram and he’ll see them and respond.

To enquire about Tony Jackman’s book, foodSTUFF (Human & Rousseau) please email him at [email protected]

SUBSCRIBE: There’s much more from Tony Jackman and his food writing colleagues in his weekly TGIFood newsletter, delivered to your inbox every Saturday. Subscribe here. Also visit the TGIFood platform, a repository of all of our food writing.


Comments - Please in order to comment.

Please peer review 3 community comments before your comment can be posted

A South African Hero: You

There’s a 99.7% chance that this isn’t for you. Only 0.3% of our readers have responded to this call for action.

Those 0.3% of our readers are our hidden heroes, who are fuelling our work and impacting the lives of every South African in doing so. They’re the people who contribute to keep Daily Maverick free for all, including you.

The equation is quite simple: the more members we have, the more reporting and investigations we can do, and the greater the impact on the country.

Be part of that 0.3%. Be a Maverick. Be a Maverick Insider.

Support Daily Maverick→
Payment options