My internet has been playing up over the last couple of weeks, so I haven’t been able to post. I know this is a cardinal sin when you are setting up a blog, so yes, it’s annoying. However, it’s also heresy not to market your blog via every social media platform going, and I’ve so far failed at that too. I haven’t been lazy tho’ – I have three flavour pairings to post, which I will endeavour to do this week, and I am also determined to up my views and comments, as this blog was conceived in the spirit of sharing…
This weekend I was invited to lunch with one of my dearest friends and family, and as I had some deliciously pink rhubarb in the fridge, I offered to make a rhubarb tart. I was also ridiculously excited about using my new long tart tin, so it made perfect sense to combine the two. Forced rhubarb is in season here and I love its deep crimson colour and exotic floral flavour. I confess however, to usually only making crumble. I think one of the main reasons I haven’t experimented more is the fact that it is so polarising. So many people claim to dislike rhubarb that whenever I have cooked a crumble for guests I am minded to also knock up an alternative dessert, and it’s almost always surprising who does and doesn’t choose the crumble. ‘It’s the stringiness’ they say, but if cooked properly it should never be stringy, just satisfyingly smooth and silky. Or ‘It’s sour!”. I agree, it is, and it does need a careful balancing with sugar to take the edge off while still retaining that sophisticated tartness.
Of course it’s most known for its pairing with vanilla, mostly in the form of custard (which was my inspiration for this tart) but it’s also fabulous with orange (which I also made use of here) and spices – although I prefer it without, as I feel the flavours tend to fight each other rather than complement. It’s also rather wonderful with almonds, which is why I put some in the pastry, but it’s really not necessary. I also really like this sweet pastry recipe – sometimes I find sweet pastry just too rich, but this was perfect.
INGREDIENTS – serves 8
FOR THE RHUBARB
700g forced rhubarb
50g caster sugar
Juice half an orange
1 tsp vanilla extract
FOR THE PASTRY
225G plain flour
25g ground almonds
2 tbsp icing sugar
140 unsalted butter
1 large egg yolk
FOR THE CREME PATISSERIE
250ml whole milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
4 large egg yolks
2 tbsp caster sugar
1 tbsp cornflour
1 tbsp flour
25ml double cream
– First make the pastry by putting the flour, sugar, almonds and butter in a food processor and blitz.
– While the motor is still running, add the egg yolk and enough iced water to combine and tip out, form very gently into a ball, wrap in cling film and pop in to the fridge for half an hour
– Now make the ‘creme pat’. Whisk the egg yolks, sugar and flours in a largish bowl.
– Heat the milk and vanilla until just simmering.
– Whisk in the hot milk and strain through a sieve back into the pan on a low heat, and stir until thickened.
– Transfer into a bowl and cover. Chill for at least an hour.
– Remove the pastry from the fridge and roll out 2mm thick. Line your fluted tart tin (12 x 35xm). leaving the edge overhanging. Make sure you press carefully into the corners.
– Bake blind for 15 mins in an oven 200c/gas 6. Remove the baking beans and bake uncovered for another 8 mins. Keep a sharp eye on it so it doesn’t get too brown on the edges.
– Saw off the overhanging pastry (and shove in mouth!) and with a pastry brush, brush egg white over the bottom surface for extra proofing against leakage! Leave to cool.
– Lastly, cut your rhubarb into batons which will fit snuggly inside your pastry case.
– Melt the sugar in the water, vanilla and orange juice. Strain to get rid of any orange bits, and poach the batons in a shallow pan for no more than 5 mins at a simmer. It’s important that you cover the rhubarb with water, so add more if you need to.
– After 5 mins, take the pan off the heat and cool. Every now and then spoon some of the warm liquid over the tops of the batons to ensure they are all evenly cooked. Do not try to turn them over as they will fray!
– Add the cream to the creme pat to loosen it and make it spreadable. Add a bit more if you need to.
– Spread the creme pat over the base of the pastry case and carefully line up the batons on top all the way down the tin. Be very cautious when you lift the batons out as their delicate fibres can spoil – use a pallette knife.
– Reduce the poaching liquid down to make a syrup and glaze the fruit (and pastry if it’s a nice thick syrup) before serving.
Isn’t the pink stunning?I like the fact that the golden custard peaks through at the edges, and is especially cheering at this time of year.
True to form, I made an alternative desert – apple meringue – using the left over egg whites, which was actually more popular with my lunch companions! This was no problem for the rhubarb lovers however, as second helpings were unsurprisingly easy to accommodate…