I feel like I should apologise for sharing another tart quite so soon. I do try so hard not to cook the same thing or, at least, the same type of thing too many times in a row.
I am, however, slightly obsessed with pastry now I’ve discovered that I am not actually incapable of making it. I pretty much want to throw anything and everything into a pastry case.
Also though, and far more excitingly, rhubarb has arrived!!
At a time of year when seasonal produce is distinctly green (kale, leeks, apples, pears), the glorious pink of forced rhubarb is a welcome change.
Forced rhubarb is mainly grown in the north of the UK. After a couple of years of growing in the fields, the plants are moved inside and they spent the rest of their days growing in the dark. The stalks picked by the flicker of candlelight to prevent any sunlight interfering with their growth. There is something magical about the whole process, steeped in our agricultural heritage and resisting modern technological advances. It is sweeter than the rhubarb that you get in the summer and more pink. Far more gloriously pink. Even when cooked, the rhubarb is pink enough to shock.
While last week’s tart was elegant and refined; this is something a little more rustic. The edges were rough, the pastry was not rolled as thinly as it could be. Halfway through making the pastry, I invited my best friend and her fiancé for lunch with the promise of a freshly-baked rhubarb tart. Which meant I had to make the rhubarb tart slightly more speedily than my usual leisurely Saturday morning pace.
Luckily my friends are nice enough not to notice the deficiencies and we enjoyed (several) helpings with a heaped scoop of vanilla ice cream. It was an excellent way to spend a Saturday afternoon.
Rhubarb crumble tart
Pastry adapted from Sharpham Park
Yield: Serves 8
I used the spelt pastry recipe that I made last week for my apple and honey tart although I increased the proportion of whole wheat to white spelt flour to 50:50 and it seemed to work perfectly well. Forced rhubarb is much sweeter and more delicate in flavour than its summer relative so I used as little sugar in the filling as I can get away with to keep it as tart as possible. Because, really, what is rhubarb without that wonderful tartness?
- Pastry to line a 22cm tin (I used this spelt pastry recipe again with a bit more whole wheat spelt flour in there)
For the filling:
- 400g (12 oz) rhubarb, chopped into 2cm pieces
- 55g (1/4 cup) unrefined caster/granulated sugar
- Zest of 1 lemon
For the crumble topping:
- 15g (1 tablespoon) unsalted butter, cold
- 30g (1 tablespoon) unrefined caster/granulated sugar
- 30g (1/4 cup) flour (I used whole wheat spelt flour)
Line a 22cm tin with your pastry and put in the freezer to chill for 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 180C/350F. Line the pastry case with parchment paper and baking bins and blind bake for about 10 minute. Remove the paper and beans and bake for another 5 -10 minutes until the pastry is just turning brown.
While you are baking the pastry, make the filling by putting the rhubarb in a pan with the sugar and the lemon zest. Cook over a medium-low heat for about 15 minutes until the rhubarb is soft but still retains a bit of structure. You might want to have a quick taste to assess whether it needs any more sugar.
Set aside to cool for a few minutes while you make the crumble topping by rubbing together the butter, sugar and flour until you have something that resembles breadcrumbs.
Pour the rhubarb filling into the pastry case and scatter with the crumble topping.
Bake for 20 – 30 minutes until the top is golden brown.
Serve warm or at room temperature, preferably with vanilla ice cream.