A dessert that makes the most of the all-too-short season for forced rhubarb
A twist on a classic, this pudding is tinged pink from the forced rhubarb and made a little unusual with the addition of thyme and pistachios. Forced rhubarb, which only has a very short season, is sweeter and pinker than the maincrop rhubarb that arrives in the summer.
200g caster sugar
4 sticks of forced rhubarb
3 large eggs
65g golden caster sugar
50ml double cream
60g unsalted butter, softened
1 tbsp thyme leaves, chopped
6 thick slices of sourdough bread, any tough crusts removed
4 tbsp pistachios, chopped
1 tbsp demerara sugar
Heat the oven to 180C. In a saucepan set over a low heat, dissolve the caster sugar in 250ml water. Chop the rhubarb into 5cm batons and arrange in one layer in a small, ovenproof dish. Pour the sugar syrup over the rhubarb—you want the syrup to just cover the batons, so add a little more water if it doesn’t. Transfer to the oven and cook for 10 mins or until the rhubarb is just soft but holds its shape. Remove and allow to cool, then lift the rhubarb out of the syrup and set aside. The syrup will keep in the fridge for a couple of weeks and is a fantastic cordial or cocktail base.
Next, whisk together the eggs and golden caster sugar then gradually add the milk and cream, whisking as you go to combine.
Now, assemble the pudding. Mix the butter and thyme together then spread the butter on both sides of the bread and cut into quarters.
Scatter 1 tbsp chopped pistachios on the base of a suitable ovenproof pudding dish and arrange a layer of bread on top. Dot a few of the rhubarb batons around the bread slices and scatter over some more pistachios. Add another layer of bread, rhubarb and pistachio and keep repeating until everything is used up. Pour over the custard mixture and press down on the bread so it really soaks up the juices. Sprinkle the demerara sugar on top and bake in the oven (still set at 180C) for 45 mins or until golden brown and bubbling.
Recipe: Kathy Slack