A sweet and sharp dessert to awake the tastebuds in the depths of winter
Rhubarb and blood oranges make a glorious pair, with startling colours and a welcome sharpness to awake the tastebuds in the depths of winter.
The secret to this tart is to pile the fruit on just before serving (1 hour at the most) preventing any juices from seeping into the pastry.
You can of course cheat with bought pastry—a square puff pastry tart would work well, or you could buy ready baked brioche or croissants from the Market, slice open and stuff with the creme pat and the fruit.
For more on cooking with forced rhubarb, read Jenny’s latest blog
For the pastry:
200g plain flour
100g unsalted butter
75g caster sugar
2 egg yolks
Extra flour, for rolling
For the creme patisserie:
400ml whole milk
4 egg yolks
100g caster sugar
35g plain flour
Zest of 1 orange
2 tsp vanilla extract
1tbsp curaçao or Cointreau (optional)
For the fruit:
3 blood oranges, peeled and cut into slices or segments.
3-4 sticks of rhubarb, baked in the oven (see recipe)
Begin with the pastry. Blitz together the flour and butter in a food processor or rub small cubes of the butter into the flour in a large bowl until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Whizz or stir in the sugar and then add the beaten egg yolks and 1 tbsp cold water. If you’re using a mixer, just pulse the pastry until it gathers into a ball of dough. If making by hand, use a knife or pastry scraper to cut the moisture into the dough before gathering it together in your hands to form a ball.
Roll the pastry out as thinly as possible and line your individual tins or large tin. Now place in the fridge and leave to rest and chill for 30 mins. Preheat your oven to 200C while you make the creme patisserie.
Heat the milk in a large saucepan until it begins to steam. Meanwhile, whisk the egg yolks, sugar and flour together in a bowl until smooth. Pour the hot milk over the egg mixture, whisking as you go (don’t worry, the flour prevents it from scrambling). Pour everything back into the saucepan and stir over a medium heat until the custard begins to boil, then continue stirring for 1 more min.
Take off the heat and stir in the zest, vanilla extract and alcohol (if using). Set aside to cool a little (if keeping for any length of time, press a butter wrapper or some clingfilm onto the custard surface to prevent a skin from forming).
Place your orange and rhubarb carefully in a sieve to drain off any excess juice. Blind bake the pastry case(s) in the preheated oven, lined with foil and weighed down with baking beans or rice for about 10 mins, until almost cooked. Remove the beans and bake for another few mins until really crisp and golden. Cool.
Now spoon or pipe the creme patisserie into the tart/tarts (if the creme pat has cooled completely, whisk it up to loosen before filling the pastry).
When you are ready to serve, or up to 1 hour beforehand, spoon the rhubarb and orange onto the tarts, piling the fruit into the centre and avoiding direct contact with the pastry (otherwise it will eventually become soggy).
Recipe and image: Jenny Chandler