A classic bake with spring rhubarb

After a long cold winter, the fresh array of produce that Spring offers is always met with great enthusiasm by the team. It signifies the start of a varied bounty of fruit and vegetables that will provide us with much inspiration over the season to come.

One of my favourite spring offerings is rhubarb which has been used in cooking since the late 18th century. Officially it’s categorised as a vegetable but is more commonly used in desserts and puddings, and is also delicious in chutneys and jams.

So when a box of rhubarb landed at our door from our suppliers earlier in the week there were no shortage of recipe ideas to try. Finally I decided on a classic flavour combination that is synonymous with rhubarb and also the inspiration behind a children’s cartoon with a rather funky theme tune; Rhubarb and Vanilla Custard tart. It’s proven to be a popular addition to our menu this week served with a generous dollop of freshly whipped cream.

Rhubarb and vanilla custard tart
Rhubarb and vanilla custard tart

For the pastry

100g unsalted butter

100g caster sugar

3 large free-range egg yolks

200g plain flour, plus extra for dusting

Pinch of salt

For the Filling

2 sticks of rhubarb, roasted until tender in the oven with a little sugar and orange juice.

2 large free-range eggs, plus 3 yolks

125g caster sugar

1 vanilla pod, seeds scraped

2 tsp cornflour

600ml double cream

Make the pastry by rubbing together the flour, butter and sugar until you have a bread crumb consistency, add the eggs and bring the dough together with a metal spoon or palette knife. After resting the dough in the fridge for around an hour, roll out the pastry to fit an 8” tin and line with parchment and baking beans before blind baking for approximately 15 minutes at 160 degrees celsius.

While the pastry is baking make the filling: Put the double cream into a saucepan and bring to a gentle simmer, meanwhile whisk the eggs and yolks with the sugar, vanilla, and cornflour. Once the cream has begun to simmer pour the cream onto the egg mixture and stir to make the custard mix.

Chop the roasted rhubarb into small pieces and scatter half in the bottom of the cooked pastry case. Pour in the custard mix and sprinkle with the remaining rhubarb (don’t worry if it sinks at this stage). Return the tart to the oven for around 25 minutes until lightly set then remove from the oven and allow to cool before serving.

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