Croatia is known for its pies, and they are a little bit different from the English versions you are probably used to. Croats call it “pita”, and the difference is primarily in the dough. Figs are another staple in the coastal part of the country and one of the most famous products using this delicious, sweet fruit is called “smokvenjak”.

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Available fresh in the summer months and dried throughout the year, figs are a symbol of Dalmatia. The Adriatic fig is a fragile fruit with a short shelf life. With thin green skin and soft flesh that is so sweet it is almost like jam when fully ripe, it is one of the most luscious of figs but rarely encountered fresh because of its fragility; most go to make dried figs and fig paste or preserves that are traditional accompaniments to dry cheeses and crusty bread. If you take a stroll through Dubrovnik, you will find “smokvenjak” on almost every corner. It is a dry cake made from dried, sweet figs and Croatian type of liqueur called “rakija”. The most important thing is to use good quality products. Smokvenjak was originally used as an energy bar for field workers and has remained a staple in the Dalmatian cuisine. It was quite common to have only a fistful of dried figs and a shot of grapa brandy (lozovaca) to get you through the morning.
This fig pie is the perfect summer cake. The dough is not a regular, flaky pie crust pastry. Pita is made with butter or lard, egg yolks, flour, sugar, milk or cream and baking powder. It needs to be chilled before rolling and is a bit tricky to work with, but a little bit of practice goes a long way and the result is very rewarding. Unlike smokvenjak, you will need fresh figs for this pie.

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For the dough:
• 300 g all purpose flour
• 150 g butter or lard
• 100 g sugar
• 1 egg yolk
• pinch of salt
• 5 tbsp milk
• g baking powder
• 1 lemon – zest
For the filling:
• 1000 g fresh figs
• 100 g sugar
• 2 tsp vanilla extract
• ½ lemon – juice
• 3 tbsp semolina
Remove the green skin from figs, slice them and pour lemon juice over them. Add vanilla extract and sugar and cook for 15 to 20 minutes. In the end, add semolina and cook for a couple of minutes. Remove from heat and let cool
For the dough, combine flour with baking powder. Add cubes of cold butter and other ingredients, combine to form the dough. Divide into two equal parts, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 180 C.

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Cut two sheets of baking paper (size 35 x 20 cm) and roll out each piece of dough onto the baking paper. Transfer the first part of the dough together with baking paper into a baking pan (size 35 x 20 cm). Spread the filling evenly over it. Cover the filling with the second part of the rolled out dough and tuck in the edges. Spike it with a fork to let the steam out during baking.
Bake for 30 minutes. Let it cool slightly and dust with powdered sugar. Let it cool completely and cut into squares. Serve.

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