How to make a rhubarb and custard tart worthy of Ballymaloe

Kitchen Cabinet: Head pastry chef JR Ryall offers his recipe for the seasonal favourite

The rhubarb and custard tart from Ballymaloe House.

The rhubarb and custard tart from Ballymaloe House.

 

I love cooking rhubarb. Its beautiful colour and vibrant sharpness mark the beginning of a new season. As the days get longer and brighter in spring, rhubarb becomes plentiful in Ireland, and for a while it seems to be the only thing I want to eat.

When serving rhubarb as a dessert, I love to pair it with something sweet and creamy like panna cotta, almond praline ice-cream or vanilla custard, all of which work well with its natural acidity.

The classic combination of rhubarb and custard works perfectly with the crisp buttery pastry in this tart. The sweetness of the custard balances the tartness of the rhubarb.

In the time it takes to bake this tart the custard sets and the rhubarb becomes tender. This tart is a favourite on the Ballymaloe House dessert trolley about Easter time and into the summer, when Irish rhubarb is at its best.

For this tart use only thin stalks of vibrant red rhubarb.
For this tart use only thin stalks of vibrant red rhubarb.

I choose only young vibrant red stems of rhubarb for this tart, and even better if they are picked just before use. The thicker the stem, the coarser the texture, and in this case size matters so select rhubarb that is no wider than 2cm in diameter.

JR Ryall is head pastry chef at Ballymaloe House in Co Cork.

RHUBARB AND CUSTARD TART

Serves eight

Ingredients
300g sweet pastry (recipe below, but if you don’t make it yourself you can buy it frozen)
1 beaten egg, for the eggwash
2 large free range eggs
280ml cream
90g sugar
450g Irish rhubarb stalks
Apricot glaze (see below)

Method

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1. Preheat an oven to 180 degrees Celsius/350 degrees Fahrenheit/gas 4.

2. Line a 23cm (9 inch) flan ring with sweet pastry, and chill it for 30 minutes.

3. Line the chilled pastry with parchment paper to come up over the edge of the tin. Fill to the top with baking beans. Bake until golden, approximately 25 minutes. Remove the paper and beans, brush the base and sides of the pastry with beaten egg and return to the oven for three minutes. Allow the case to cool. Reduce the oven temperature to 160 degrees Celsius/325 degrees Fahrenheit/gas 3.

4. Meanwhile, whisk the free range eggs, cream and sugar together and strain through a sieve.

5. Wash the rhubarb and cut into 2-3cm pieces.

6. Arrange the rhubarb on the base of the baked pastry, pour the cream mixture over the rhubarb and carefully transfer to the centre of the oven.

7. Bake until the custard is just set, approximately 25 minutes. Allow the tart to cool and brush with apricot glaze.

For the apricot glaze:
110g apricot jam
60ml lemon juice

Warm the jam and lemon juice in a saucepan. Pass through a nylon sieve.

SWEET PASTRY

Makes enough to line two 23cm flan rings (you can freeze half)

Ingredients
300g plain flour
50g caster sugar
30g icing sugar
170g cold butter, sliced
1 small egg, lightly beaten

Method

1. Sieve the flour and sugars together, then rub in the butter until the mixture resembles fine crumbs.

2. Bind with the beaten egg to form a smooth pastry.

3. Divide the pastry in two and wrap each piece in parchment paper. Rest in the fridge for at least one hour or freeze.

Kitchen Cabinet is a series of recipes from chefs who are members of Euro-Toques Ireland who have come together during the coronavirus outbreak to share some of the easy, tasty things that they like to cook and eat at home #ChefsAtHome

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