Rhubarb and Custard Tart

Rhubarb and Custard Tart

My hubby likes to grow things in the garden – mainly fruit – so we get fresh apples, raspberries, blackcurrants, gooseberries, strawberries and my favourite, rhubarb each year from July onwards depending what’s in season. Having just returned from holiday, we discovered the rhubarb, though not red due to lack of sunlight in that part of the garden, was indeed ripe and ready to use, so I hunted out a recipe for rhubarb and custard tart to make for some friends that were coming to dinner, on the premise that everyone loves rhubarb and custard. Don’t they? The pastry is from Giorgio Locatelli’s Made in Italy book and because it’s all made in the food processor and has a lovely bite to it, I think I’ll be returning to it time and again.

Serves 8   |  20 mins prep plus 30 mins cooking

Ingredients

Sweet pastry (makes enough for two large tart tins)
  • 225g butter (softened to room temperature)
  • 150g icing sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 450 g plain flour
  • beaten egg for glazing
Custard
  • 1 tsp vanilla bean paste
  • 250ml whole milk
  • 1 large egg plus 2 large egg yolks
  • 100g golden caster sugar
  • 25g cornflour
  • 1 tbsp unsalted butter
Rhubarb
  • 2-3 large stalks of rhubarb cut into 2 in pieces
  • 100g golden caster sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla bean paste
  • juice of one orange

You will also need…

  • a food processor
  • a 25cm loose bottomed flan tin greased lightly with butter
  • baking beans or rice

Method

  1. Start with the pastry. Put the butter into a food processor and whizz it for a minute or so to soften. Add in the icing sugar – no need to sieve first – and whizz until the colour becomes more pale.
  2. Add the eggs, one by one, pulsing after each addition. Finally, add the flour and just as it starts to all come together, switch off the machine and turn the mix out onto a floured surface to finish off by hand. Don’t over-mix in the processor or it will become too tough and not crumbly enough.
  3. When it all comes together into a solid mass, divide in two, wrap each piece in cling film and refrigerate for 30 mins or so while you make the custard.
  4. Put the tsp of vanilla bean paste into a pot with the milk and bring almost to the boil. Meanwhile, whisk the egg, yolks and sugar in a jug with the cornflour until smooth. Pour the milk over and whisk briefly to combine then pour the whole lot back into the pot and heat for 2-3 minutes, stirring constantly. This will become very thick very quickly due to the amount of cornflour, but that will also stabilise the mix, so don’t panic if it goes lumpy, a bit of vigorous whisking will sort that out.
  5. Scrape the custard into a bowl and cover the surface with cling film to prevent a skin forming while you leave it to cool.
  6. Now cook the rhubarb. Put the cut pieces in a small roasting tin, sprinkle over the sugar, drizzle the vanilla bean paste and finish off with the freshly squeezed orange juice. Roast this in the oven at 190c/170c (fan) for 15 mins or so – don’t let the rhubarb lose its shape like I did! Remove it from the oven and allow to cool.
  7. Now cook the pastry. Preheat the oven to 180c/160c (fan). Remove the dough from the fridge and roll out on a flour sprinkled surface until about half a cm thick. Drape the rolled pastry over your rolling pin and carefully place it into the prepared tin. Don’t worry if it breaks – this pastry is easy to work with and you can fill in any gaps or tears with offcuts. Don’t trim the pastry at this stage – leave it until it’s past the first cooking stage. Prick it all over with a fork and place a piece of crumpled baking paper over it and fill the case with baking beans or rice. Cook for 15 mins or so, then remove from the oven, take the beans and paper out, trim the edges and brush with beaten egg before returning to the oven for a further 10 mins.
  8. Once the pastry case has cooled down, scrape in the custard and use a spatula to spread it evenly and top with the cooked rhubarb. Drizzle the rhubarb syrup over and chill until you’re ready to eat.