Rhubarb and custard were meant to go together. Whether in the form of a classical British cartoon featuring a pink cat (fabulous) and a green dog or in pudding variety- the combination of sweet and sharp is mmm mmm. The recipe is almost identical to the one made by Kate Henry on the 2014 series of the bake-off, with a little less sugar and dumbed down ever so slightly. Swirling the rhubarb through the custard was a work of genius, and I was really impressed by the addition of the rosemary to the pastry too. This is really a lovely tart.
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For the pastry
150g unsalted butter
2 sprigs of rosemary
400g rhubarb-the redder the better
1 cinnamon stick
60g caster sugar
4-5 tablespoons water
For the custard
6 egg yolks
300ml double cream
60g caster sugar
good shake of nutmeg
1. The first stage of this bake is to make the pastry and get it chilling in the fridge. I will describe how I made it without a food processor, although it is obviously easier if you have one. Measure out the flour and place it in a large mixing bowl. Cube the chilled butter, then rub it into the flour with the ends of your fingers until it resembles breadcrumbs.
2. Finely chop several sprigs of rosemary (~24 thin leaves) into tiny pieces with scissors and mix these throughout your pasty. Add the almonds, followed by the egg and distribute the moisture by slicing through the mix with a butter knife to break up the egg. Hopefully, at this point you should be able to bring the pastry together into a smooth lump. However, if you need a little more moisture, add a tiny drop of water and clump the pastry together.
3. Flatten the pastry into a squat disk and leave to chill.
4. Next make the rhubarb compote. Chop the rhubarb stalk into small chunks, less than 1cm in width. Place in a pan over a medium-high heat along with the sugar, water and the cinnamon stick broke into two. Leave to simmer until the rhubarb looses it’s structural integrity and the mixture resembles what you would expect for a jam. Fish out the cinnamon sticks and leave to cool.
5. At this point, I preheated the oven to 180•C and greased my loose-bottomed tart tin with a little butter and a dusting of flour. Following this, I rolled out my chilled pastry until it was pretty thin (~2-3mm) and large enough to line the tin, then draped it in, using a little bit of pastry to push it right into all the creases. I left the rough edges overspilling the side of the tin to stop the pastry case shrinking in the oven for now.
6. Line the pastry case with baking parchment and fill with baking beads (or rice if you don’t have baking beads). Blind bake for 25 minutes.
7. Whilst the pastry case is blind baking, quickly blend the rhubarb mixture until it has no lumps left. This will make it smooth for piping.
8. Once slightly golden and no longer soft, remove the pastry case from the oven. Use a very sharp, serrated knife to trim the edges of the pastry in line with the case. Leave to cool slightly and lower to temperature of the oven to 150•C.
9. Spoon half the rhubarb mix into a bag and pipe a swirl on the base of your pastry case. Nobody will see this one so if its not perfect, worry not.
10. To make the custard, heat the cream over medium heat until scalding. Whisk the egg yolks and the sugar together until lighter and fluffy. Pour half the hot cream into the eggs, whilst whisking. Tip the egg and cream back into the remaining cream, which should still be sitting on the hob, and stir until begins to thicken. You want it lightly glaze the back of a spoon without dripping off. Season well with nutmeg.
11. Pour the custard gently into the pastry case until it is nearly full. Gently transfer the tart to the oven, then top up with the remaining custard until almost level with the crust. Be careful not to get the crust soggy. Don’t slam the oven door as I did once, causing the filling to go everywhere and ruining a nice tart.
12. Bake for about 10 minutes until the custard has formed a slight skin. Fill a bag with the remaining rhubarb and pipe a neat swirl on the top. Return to the oven and bake for a further 25-30 minutes, or until the custard looks set with a nice wobble.