Rhubarb comes into season in early April, though the bright pink ‘forced’ variety can be with us from early March. It’s delightful to look at and fantastically sweet/tart in flavour with pleasing floral notes – it heralds the start of Spring perfectly. And who doesn’t adore the rhubarb & custard combination – a firm childhood favourite! Here we’ve given things a little grown-up twist by ‘brulée-ing’ the top of the tart to add a cracking texture and a contrasting bitterness from the caramelised, or ‘burnt’ sugar.
It’s a great pairing with a sweet Chenin Blanc from Quarts de Chaume – one of the very few Grand Crus appellations in the Loire Valley. While it may not quite have the international recognition of a Sauternes from Bordeaux the wine can be just as extraordinary. The aged Chenin offers notes of honey, quince and orange zest, which echo the perfumed orange zest in both the roasted rhubarb and the sweet shortcrust pastry. It has a decadent, rich mouthfeel that matches the indulgent texture of the smooth, creamy tart. The two are the perfect way to end this celebratory supper for Spring!
- Prep time: 30 mins
- Cooking time: 1 hr, 30 mins, in stages
- This recipe serves 6 – 8
- Kit: 20 cm tart case (approx 5 cm deep) with removable base, and kitchen blow torch
- 200 g rhubarb
- 40 g brown sugar
- ½ orange – juice + zest
- small thumb ginger, minced
- 140 g white flour
- 20 g ground almonds
- 1 tbsp icing sugar
- 100 g soft butter
- 1 egg yolk
- 1 tsp ground ginger
- ½ orange, zest only
- ¼ tsp fine sea salt
- 250 ml double cream
- 100 ml whole milk
- 50 g caster sugar
- 5 egg yolks
- 1 egg
- Start by making the pastry, and preheating the oven to 190 C.
- Weigh and sieve the dry ingredients into a large mixing bowl, then grate over the zest of ½ orange. Add the soft butter and work this in with your fingertips until the mix resembles breadcrumbs. Now add the yolk and work this in with your fingertip to bring all the pastry together as a ball of dough. Flatter your pastry into a thick round.
- Lightly flour your work surface and roll out the pastry into an even circle, roughly 0.5 cm thick. Lightly flour the pasty, then roll this back over your pin, and unroll it over the tart case. Press the pastry into the case and trim away any excess, but hold on to these scraps. Pop in the freezer to chill for 15 minutes.
- Slice the rhubarb into even lengths, roughly 2.5 cm, then toss with the sugar, orange zest and juice, and the finely grated ginger. Toss well to coat, then roast in a suitably sized tin or tray for 15 mins. After 15 mins gently tip the rhubarb and any liquid through a sieve – hold on to these roasting juices for serving! – then spread the rhubarb out on a plate or board to prevent it from overcooking and collapsing.
- Line the chilled tart case with a circle of parchment paper and some ceramic baking beans, then bake in the preheated oven for 12 minutes. After 12 minutes remove the baking beans and lining, turn the oven down to 180 C, lightly egg wash all over, and return the tart case to the oven for a further 14-16 minutes until golden and crisp.
- Meanwhile, make the custard filling. Combine the milk and cream in a saucepan and place on a very low heat to warm gently. In a clean mixing bowl whisk the 5 egg yolks, 1 egg, and 50 g sugar. When the milk and cream are hot, just before they hit boiling point, pour this in a very slow and steady stream over the egg mix as you continue to whisk the egg mix below. This is called ‘tempering the yolks;.
- Once your tart case has finished blind baking, remove it from the oven and allow it to cool for 5 minutes, while you turn the oven down to 130 C.
- Remove any excess oven racks, and sit your baked case on a rack, in the centre. Scatter the rhubarb batons around the base and avoid adding any excess rhubarb juice – save this for serving. Next, carefully pour over the custard filling right to the top; the batons will float up slightly.
- Bake at 130 C for 40-50 mins until the tart is mostly set, with a slight wobble in the centre – it will firm up fully as it cools. The exact cooking time will vary slightly depending on the depth of your tart case and the temperature of the custard at the start of cooking, so keep an eye on things and use your judgement here.
- Allow the tart to cool fully before slicing into 6 or 8. Lightly scatter the surface of each slice with caster sugar, then gently brulée with a blow torch if you wish.
- Serve with an extra dollop of cream or creme fraiche, a spoonful of the rhubarb’s roasting liquor, and a well-chilled glass of sweet Chenin Blanc.
Try the Spring Menu
Starter – Goats’ cheese cake and a pea & basil salad served with Pouilly-Fumé
Main – Slow-roasted blade of mutton, with ras-el-hanout, honey & garlic served with Cataratto orange wine