It’s been a while since I posted a dessert recipe so here you go. Rhubarb and custard is a classic combination and I love cooking with rhubarb when it is in season. Himself is not a fan so I usually make these things and have to find someone to offload them on or I’d eat the whole thing myself!
This Rhubarb and Custard Tart is a bit involved, each step requires a bit of work. I promise you it is worth the effort. Each element can be prepared in advance and then just assembled when you are ready to eat it.
I do think this would look so much prettier if I could get that lovely pink forced rhubarb but I have never seen it on sale here. So I used the traditional variety and sliced it into thinner batons so that it cooks quicker but keeps its shape. For the custard element I have made a crème patissiere or pastry cream. I love making custard too but it does take time and patience. I haven’t made this too thick as I feel it can be a bit stodgy when it is too set. This means that the looser custard will be a little messier when you cut into it but I don’t mind that.
Useful tips & links:
- The pastry, custard and rhubarb all take a little work but none of them are difficult to make. If you want you can always buy a tart shell or a sheet of shortcrust pastry and a good ready made custard and just roast the rhubarb.
- The pastry cream, the raw pastry and the roasted rhubarb will keep for a couple of days in the fridge once they are well covered. So you can prep each element and then just bake the pastry and assemble on the day. This tart is best eaten on the day it is made.
- Play around with the flavours, I have included orange in the pastry and in the rhubarb but you could add it to the crème patissiere too. Luckily there are still some blood oranges available and I used them, which helped with the colour of the rhubarb. A little hint of ginger would be lovely too.
- I keep back the juice that the rhubarb has been roasted in and spoon a little of that over when serving. I actually roast two bunches of rhubarb and then use what is needed for the tart. Keep what is left in the juice in the fridge and have it for your breakfast.
- I use vanilla bean paste or extract when baking. Using a vanilla pod is great in custard but they are quite expensive so I don’t use them. Whatever you do, don’t use vanilla essence.
- I use Nigella’s method for making the pastry which involves chilling the flour and butter before using a processor to bind it all together. You can make this using a knife to cut the butter through the flour but try to avoid using your hands as much as possible as the pastry becomes tough if you handle it too much.
- For more rhubarb recipes have a look at this Rhubarb and Blood Orange Syllabub or my old favourite Rhubarb and Strawberry Cake. You can’t beat a great crumble and this Rhubarb and Berry Crumble from Katia looks delicious.
Rhubarb and Custard Tart
For the Pastry Cream or Crème Patissiere:
- 500ml of full fat milk
- 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste
- 8 egg yolks
- 50g of cornflour
- 75g of caster sugar
- 15g of unsalted butter
For the pastry:
- 300g of plain flour
- 150g of unsalted butter
- 25g of caster sugar
- A pinch of salt
- 2 egg yolks
- 50ml of orange juice, ice cold
For the rhubarb:
- 500g of trimmed rhubarb
- 75g of caster sugar
- 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
- The juice of 2 oranges, approx 200ml
- All three elements of the tart can be made in advance, however as the pastry cream needs the longest time to set I will start with that.
- In a heavy bottomed saucepan heat the milk over a medium heat. While the milk is heating, whisk together the egg yolks, cornflour and sugar in a bowl until frothy. When the milk reaches a simmer start to slowly pour it into the eggs, whisking the whole time. It is crucial that the hot milk goes into the eggs slowly so that the heat doesn’t scramble the eggs. When all the milk has been added, wipe out the saucepan and put it back on a low-medium heat.
- Pour the custard mixture into the pan and add in the vanilla. Gently heat the custard, whisking the whole time to avoid lumps, until the custard thickens. This could take 20 minutes to properly thicken and cook the eggs and cornflour.
- When the custard is thick chop the butter into little pieces in a bowl and then pour the custard into the butter. Stir through to melt the butter and then cover with clingfilm pressed on to the surface of the custard to stop a skin forming. Put the custard in the fridge to set for three hours or overnight.
To make the pastry
- Chop the butter into little pieces and put them into a shallow dish and pour over the flour. Mix through and put this into the freezer for 10 minutes.
- Put the chilled flour and butter into a food processor with the sugar and a pinch of salt. Pulse the mixture until it resembles coarse breadcrumbs. Then add 1 egg yolk and half of the orange juice and continue to pulse until the mixture just comes together. Add more orange juice if needed.
- Once the pastry looks ready to come together, tip it out of the food processor and bring it together with your hands. You don’t want to over handle it so just bring it together and then stop. Flatten it into a rectangular shape and wrap it in clingfilm. Put it into the fridge to rest for at least 20 minutes.
- When you are ready to bake the tart shell grease a 30cm x 20cm fluted tart tin with butter. Take the pastry out of the fridge and roll it into a rectangular shape 2-3mm thick. I roll my pastry between 2 sheets of baking parchment as it makes less of a mess than rolling out on flour.
- Gather the pastry over the rolling pin and gently roll it out over the tin. Press the pastry into the corners and edges of the tart tin. The pastry is pretty forgiving so if it breaks or there is a hole use any excess pastry to patch it up, simply press it into the pastry. Prick the base all over and put it back in the fridge for 30 minutes.
- Meanwhile preheat the oven to 180c/160c fan/gas mark 4. Put a baking sheet into the oven while preheating. You will put the tart onto this baking tray and it will help to cook the base properly.
- Crumple a sheet of baking parchment and then straighten it out put it into the chilled tart shell. Fill the parchment with baking beans or flour or rice and blind bake it in the oven for 30 minutes.
- Remove the parchment and weights from the pastry and bake it uncovered for another 5-10 minutes until the pastry is golden all over and cooked through.
- Whisk the remaining egg yolk and use a pastry brush to wash this inside the tart shell. Put it back into the oven for another minute, this will seal the pastry so the custard filling won’t make it soggy.
- Take the pastry out of the oven and set aside to cool.
To make the rhubarb
- Preheat the oven to 170c/150c fan/ gas mark 3. Cut the rhubarb into 8cm lengths and I then like to cut the thicker pieces in half so that they will cook evenly.
- Place the rhubarb in a single layer into a shallow baking dish and pour over the sugar, orange juice and vanilla. Roast the rhubarb for 15-20 minutes until it is tender. Take it out of the oven and allow it to cool.
To assemble the tart
- Fill the cooled pastry shell with the pastry cream and top with the rhubarb and some of its juice. Serve immediately. You could top with some toasted almonds or pistachios for extra crunch.