I have to be brutally honest here, I am not a huge rhubarb fan. To be blunt, I could do without it for the rest of my life. Then, the other day, I was surfing the internet and came across a picture perfect rhubarb tart that stole my heart and captured my dreams. I became utterly hypnotized by the shot from Jo Harrington, a self described ‘longtime London foodie challenged to bake the perfect pie.’ If you look up her site you will see quite possibly the most amazing collection of pies ever made. In the same moment, I felt both worthless as a pie maker and speechless in wonder of her patient handiwork with dough. Trust me, until you have tried to replicate it yourself you will never realize the amount of work involved. My sincere compliments to her skill set.
Three days of experimentation packed with epic fails
I spent the next three days first trying to reverse engineer her picture. The first try resulted in an epic fail when I over poached the first set of rhubarb, reducing it to pure mush. The second day, I tweaked the recipe a bit more, and ended up with a passable tart, but it wasn’t until the third try that everything came together; and yes, I became a rhubarb fan. The next 24 hours was spent staring at my own picture, purring ‘my precious’.
Rhubarb Tart Recipe
The tart is composed of three elements: lightly poached rhubarb, pate brisee (tart dough) and pastry cream. You could opt for a pate sucre (sweet tart dough), but I prefer savory flavors rather than overtly sweet ones. I will not lie, putting this rhubarb tart requires the calmness only half a bottle of wine can provide. Not that I am a lush, but I usually have a seven year old boy and his two cohorts bouncing off the walls around me as I try to cook in the afternoon.
Give my recipe a try and hashtag us at #PistouAndPastis – WE LOVE TO SEE YOUR CREATIONS!
A good way to handle rhubarb for different applications
- 2 cups sugar
- 2 cups water
- 1 each cinnamon stick
- 1 slice ginger root
- 2 pounds rhubarb
Bring sugar, water, cinnamon and ginger to a rolling boil, turn off.
Trim end off rhubarb and add. Poach five minutes in syrup. Remove. If you are making a rhubarb compote let rhubarb cool in syrup.
Pastry Cream (Creme Patissiere)
French pastry cream from Bruce Healy's book Mastering the Art of French Pastry.
- 2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 cups milk
- 2 large eggs
- 2 egg yolks
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup flour
- 1/4 cup cornstarch
- 4 tablespoons butter
Bring vanilla and milk to a boil, remove from heat.
Mix eggs, sugar, flour and cornstarch together in a bowl.
Slowly add hot milk to eggs, whisking all the time.
Pour mixture back into pot, bring to a boil, then cook on low heat for three minutes, stirring all the time. It will get considerably thick as it cooks.
Whisk in butter and let cool.
Michel LeBorgne's Tart Dough
This tart dough I learned from my first real mentor, Michel LeBorgne and I still use it today.
- 12 ounces flour
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 pound butter
- 1/2 cup water
Mix flour, salt and baking powder and make a mound.
Cut ice cold butter into small cubes and mix in. I like to use my fingertips, and mix till it resembles coarse cornmeal.
Add just enough ice cold water to make the dough form a ball. Let rest for a few hours. I sometimes make bigger batches and freeze in tart sized balls. This dough will be enough for two rhubarb tarts.
Rhubarb and Custard Tart
A delicious spring dessert to celebrate rhubarb with!
- 1 recipe Tart Dough
- 1 recipe Pastry Cream
- 1 recipe Poached Rhubarb
- 2 tablespoons sugar
Roll dough out to a circle, about an 1/8th of inch thick.
Spread cooled pastry cream over circle, leaving room on the edges.
Cut rhubarb into thin slices and arrange in a tight circle over pastry cream.
Fold edges of dough over, sprinkle with sugar and bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes, or until golden brown.
Don't be worried if the tart is browned and the pastry cream looks really runny and giggly. It will thicken as it cools off.