Rhubarb and custard: A marriage made in heaven

This custard tart is a light, simple dessert full of soothing nostalgic flavour

Custard tart with poached rhubarb. Photograph: Harry Weir

Custard tart with poached rhubarb. Photograph: Harry Weir

 

Rhubarb in any form was always a firm favourite in our house. Baked into crumbles or tarts, or cooked into a soft compote, the colour alone was enough to entice us to eat it.

I have taken the classic rhubarb and custard concept and made a gorgeous sunshine-yellow custard tart, served with beautiful pink rhubarb, gently poached in an orange and vanilla syrup. This is a gorgeous seasonal combination and a light, simple dessert full of soothing nostalgic flavours. I’m using forced rhubarb, which is in season in spring. It has a bright magenta hue and is slightly sweeter than its tart green summer cousin.

The tart has a silky-smooth centre with a perfect wobble, and a crumbly pastry. It is the perfect partner for rhubarb. The tart is made with a basic sweet shortcrust and a simple custard made from only three ingredients. I like to make my pastry dough in advance, then it takes no time at all to put together, and will store quite well in the fridge for a few days.

The trick to avoiding a soggy pastry base is to blind-bake it, to ensure it is fully cooked before adding the custard filling for its second bake, which is lower and slower to get that perfect creamy wobble.

Once the pastry case is cooked, I use some reserved raw pastry to make a liquid pastry, by blending it with a little egg, to patch up any gaps or holes in the base. If there are any tiny holes at all, the custard will seep through, so this is worth checking before pouring the custard filling in.

The filling is made by warming cream and mixing it with egg yolks and sugar, before slowly pouring into the case. Use free-range eggs if you can – they have a beautiful orange yolk and a rich flavour. There will be quite a few egg whites left over – use these to make meringues or macarons or, alternatively, you can freeze them for use another time.

Recipe: Custard tart with poached rhubarb

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