Woburn Abbey Gardens - Autumn Harvest

The cooler temperatures of autumn herald a time of plenty in the Abbey Gardens. The espalier fruit trees sunning their backs against the Kitchen Garden wall have produced golden Mirabelles, rosy blushing pears and crisp apples. The berries have been good this year too - shiny orange wineberries, followed by blueberries and currently plump autumn raspberries. Still to come (if they ripen) are kiwi fruits, a self-fertile cultivar named ‘Jenny’. The Gardens Team only planted the vine last year, so fingers, crossed they ripen.

In the hot bed, just inside the entrance by the Fanfare Gates, the pair of mature fig trees (Figus carica ‘Brown Turkey’) have really performed their socks off this year and produced a bumper crop. Their skinny, wrinkly branches so weighed down by their greeny brown fruits they threaten to flatten the phygelius flowering below. Did you know figs are technically not fruits at all, but actually inwardly blooming flowers called a syconium?

If you like figs you may like to try the Duke and Duchess’ Private Chef Luke Hoggetts’ recipe for Fig Tart Tatin

Ingredients

100g caster sugar

1 vanilla pod, and seeds

10 figs

320g pack ready rolled puff pastry

1 egg, beaten

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to gas mark 6, 200°C, fan 180°C. Heat caster sugar in a 20cm ovenproof frying pan over a medium heat till light caramel.
  2. Add a splash of water, vanilla pod and seeds. Swirl around until it turns a golden caramel then remove the empty vanilla pod.
  3. Cut the figs in half and place cut side down in the pan.
  4. Unroll the puff pastry and cut a little wider than the pan.
  5. Place pastry over the figs, pressing down the sides to ensure the pastry is flush.
  6. Prick with a fork in the centre to release steam, brush with the beaten egg.
  7. Bake for 20-25 mins until golden and crisp
  8. Serve warm with cream or ice-cream.
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