Rhubarb Custard Tart

8/12/2019 08:06:00 AM

Rhubarb Custard Tart. Crisp all-butter pastry and sharp stewed rhubarb, blanketed with a rich and creamy vanilla custard. It's an elegant dessert with a gorgeous balance of flavours and textures.

Rhubarb Custard Tart
Rhubarb Custard Tart

I am a total planner. I like planning out my weekends in advance and knowing what I'm going to be doing - gym, breakfast, brunch, shopping, Simpsons marathon while mindlessly scrolling Instagram, whatever. I tend to get a little anxious if the plan changes, or worse, if there is no plan at all. This inflexibility extends to my cooking life - usually when I cook, whether it's a quick weeknight meal or a fancy dinner party, I choose the dishes in advance and then shop according to my plan. I'm definitely not a go-with-the-flow kinda person!

However, the other weekend, we went to the local farmers' market (of course, this was a pre-planned activity), and I saw this absolutely gorgeous bunch of rhubarb and some beautiful mandarins with leaves on, and I couldn't resist. So, with no idea of what I'd do with them, I bought them and took them home with me. Very out of character for me!

The first thing I did was chop up one stalk of rhubarb and stew it with a little mandarin juice, sugar and water, and had it with vanilla yogurt and crunchy granola for breakfast. It had been ages since I'd had rhubarb - you may recall I cooked and ate it frequently during my Sarah Discovers How to Eat Project - and I'd forgotten how lovely it is. I love the fresh fragrance, its soft texture when cooked, and I love its gently acidic flavour. As I ate that breakfast of tart rhubarb and creamy sweet yogurt, both elements perfectly complementing each other, I was reminded why rhubarb and creamy custard is such a classic combination.

And that's how I got the idea to make a rhubarb custard tart!

Rhubarb Custard Tart Ingredients

The base is a rich shortcrust pastry. I used the ingredients and ratios from the rich shortcrust recipe in Nigella's How to Eat, but made the pastry by hand rather than using her processor method as I'm far too lazy to drag the processor out of its home on the top shelf of my pantry.

Pastry Case ready for baking
Pastry Case ready for baking

To ensure the pastry cooked through and to prevent a soggy bottom, I blind baked it, brushed it with some beaten egg to seal the base, and then baked it a little more.

Blind baked pastry case
Blind baked pastry case

The rhubarb filling is very easy - simply chop up your rhubarb, and cook in a pan with some sugar, water, and citrus juice. (Orange is traditional with rhubarb; I used mandarin juice because I had mandarins, and I thought it added a lovely floral note). The custard recipe is essentially the same as this one I found on Woman and Home, because I thought the texture of the custard in the picture looked so inviting! (Although again I substituted mandarin for the suggested orange). Making the custard is a simple matter of whisking everything together.

Pastry case, ready to be filled with rhubarb and custard
Pastry case, ready to be filled

You then spread the rhubarb into the pastry case, pour the custard over, and bake at a moderately low heat until just set. Once baked, you want a little bit of a wobble, but no obvious liquid underneath.

Rhubarb Custard Tart, ready to be baked
Rhubarb Custard Tart, ready to be baked

And that's it! I like to let it cool to room temperature before unmoulding it, and then refrigerating until completely cold before cutting into it and serving it. I think baked egg custards are much nicer cold, as the texture transforms from gelatinous and wobbly to thick and creamy.

Slices of rhubarb custard tart
Slices of tart!

Serve it with a dusting of icing sugar if you like, but it needs no further accessory or adornment. It's absolutely perfect just as it is! This was such a lovely dessert. I think it would be great for a dinner party as it looks quite fancy, and you can make it in advance.

Rhubarb Custard Tart
Rhubarb Custard Tart

I'm so pleased that my impulse purchase of rhubarb resulted in this tart. Maybe I'll learn to be more impulsive and go with the flow!

Rhubarb Custard Tart
Pastry recipe adapted from Nigella Lawson's How to Eat, Custard recipe adapted from Woman and Home, all else Sarah's own

For the pastry
1 egg yolk
1 tablespoon sour cream / orange juice / lemon juice
1 pinch salt
120 grams plain flour
60 grams cold butter
1 extra egg, for glazing the pastry
For the rhubarb
7 sticks rhubarb, to give approx. 450 grams when trimmed
1 tablespoon sugar
2 tablespoons orange or mandarin juice
2 tablespoons water
For the custard
3 egg yolks
2 whole eggs
175 grams caster sugar
1 tablespoon cornflour
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
The zest and juice of 1/2 a mandarin
450 millilitres double cream

For the pastry
Whisk together the egg yolk, sour cream / orange juice or lemon juice and the pinch of salt. Set aside. Place the flour in a large mixing bowl. Chop or grate the cold butter into small pieces. Add to the flour and rub in with your fingertips until the mixture resembles damp sand and the butter is evenly distributed. Make a well in the centre and pour in the egg yolk mixture, stirring with a fork to combine. If required, add 1-2 tablespoons of cold water to help the dough come together. Once it comes together in a shaggy dough, knead together gently, then form into a squat disc. Wrap with clingfilm and refrigerate for 20 minutes (or longer).
Preheat the oven to 190C.
Roll the dough out on a floured surface into a large thin disk (approx. 5 millimetres thick), and line a 24cm loose bottomed flan tin. Refrigerate for at least 20 minutes. Line with foil or baking paper, fill with baking beans (or dried pulses or rice or sugar) and bake for 15 minutes. Remove the foil and baking beans.
Beat the extra egg, and brush the inside of the pastry all over with beaten egg. Bake for a further 10 minutes. Set aside.
For the rhubarb
Wash and trim the rhubarb. Cut into 2cm chunks. Place into a saucepan with the sugar, orange juice and water. Cook over a medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until soft. Transfer the rhubarb to a cold bowl and allow to cool.
For the custard
Whisk together the egg yolks, whole eggs and caster sugar until just thick and creamy. Whisk in the corn flour, followed by the vanilla extract, mandarin juice and zest, and the cream.
To assemble and bake
Turn the oven down to 160C.
Place the rhubarb into the pie shell and spread out evenly. (If a lot of liquid has come off, discard it, you want mainly just the pulp). Pour the custard mixture over. Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes, or until mostly set with just a hint of wobble underneath but no obvious liquid. Cover with foil halfway through if it's browning too quickly.
Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely before de-moulding and transferring to a serving plate. Refrigerate until completely cold. Dust with icing sugar to serve.
Makes one x 24cm tart, serves 8

Have you made this recipe? Leave a comment below! Tag me on Instagram @sarahcooksblog and hashtag #sarahcooksblog

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