Rhubarb & Custard

Make this and everybody will love you!

Rhubarb is everywhere so there are no excuses for not being able to get hold of a few stalks and giving it a go.  Your second excuse might be that you can’t make pastry or perhaps it takes too long or it’s too messy.  Please, please, please shelve the negativity and while you’re waiting for the kettle to boil for your next cup of coffee, give this a try.  You may wonder why I am pushing on this one and it’s simply because the pie is divine.  When I made it I watched as my husband put a forkful towards his mouth and braced himself for the sharpness that sometimes can accompany a rhubarb tart, but as he started to taste, his shoulders relaxed and I think he actually closed his eyes.  The key tip with rhubarb is that you need to go heavy on the sugar.

Making the pastry shouldn’t take longer than 5 minutes.  You then need to let it chill in the fridge for a while, at least 30 minutes (Why?  There is a science bit about the starch cells swelling and the gluten relaxing but what you need to know is that it will be easier to roll and there will be less shrinkage).  If you’re a planner then make the pastry in the morning for use later.   I was out of plain flour when I went to make the pastry and used Self-Raising Flour instead.  The pastry was great so I’m sticking with the S.R. but use plain if that’s all you have.

Shortcrust Pastry
225g Self-Raising flour
115g butter (from the fridge) (I use unsalted)
25g caster sugar
1 egg yolk
50 ml cold water approx.

Sift the flour into a bowl. Chop the butter with a knife into the bowl and use your fingertips to rub the butter into the flour until it resembles fine breadcrumbs.  (Kids love to do this and it will spare you messy hands.  You sip your coffee, while they have fun!).  Stir in the caster sugar and use a fork to bring the dough together with the egg yolk.  Gradually add the water (you may need a little more or perhaps less) until the dough comes together.  Shape the dough into a ball with your hands and give it a light knead but nothing major.  Wrap in clingfilm (saran wrap) or a freezer bag and flatten out to a disc shape.  Leave in the fridge to chill for 30 minutes.

Rhubarb Tart Filling
5 stalks rhubarb
Handful flour for rolling
50g caster sugar, plus extra for top
1 egg
Splash milk

Heat the oven to 190C.  Beat the egg with the milk in a bowl.  Cut the pastry dough in half.  Lightly dust the pastry and the rolling pin with flour and roll out each half to the size of the plate or pie tin you are using (I used a deep dinner plate).  Line the plate/tin with one half of the pastry.  Rinse the rhubarb stalks and chop off the ends.  Chop the rhubarb to about a 2cm thickness and fill the pie.  Sprinkle over the 50g of sugar and use a pastry brush to wet the outside edge of the pastry with the egg wash.  Cover the pie with the top half of pastry and press the edges together using a fork.  Brush the top of the pastry with the egg wash and sprinkle over with a little caster sugar.  Use a knife to vent the pie with little score marks.  Bake for approx 35 mins until golden brown.

Enjoy with ‘Bird’s ready to serve custard’ which you can heat in the microwave.  Til next time, Sheila.

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