Rhubarb and Custard holds a dear place in my heart – I vividly remember those yellow and pink sweets piled high on the shelves at the local sweet shop as a child. I also remember being so intimidated by ordering something in 100g so very rarely got to have them as a treat. The pressure was just too much so I’d just stick to ordering penny sweets. That way I’d know exactly how much I’d be spending and exactly how many I’d get.
Nowadays, I strive to find ways that combination of flavours can come together and here is the latest – my Rhubarb and Custard Tartlets. The snap of the pastry combined with the creaminess of the custard and sharpness of Rhubarb really sets alive the tastebuds, so give it a go!
175g plain flour
65g butter, unsalted
65g caster sugar
1 egg yolk
pinch of salt
260ml whole milk
100g caster sugar
2tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs + 1 yolk
100g caster sugar
Pre-heat the oven to 160 degrees Celsius.
First, let’s make the pastry: a simple sweet shortcrust is all that’s needed here and that means one thing: cold. I always stick the cubed butter in the freezer about 10 minutes before starting the pastry to ensure it’s as short as possible.
Combine the flour, sugar and salt in a bowl. Throw in the butter and combine with (cold) hands to resemble breadcrumbs. Incorporate the egg yolk and bit by bit add the cold water – no more than a teaspoon at a time – until you get a soft, smooth dough. Wrap in cling film and put in the fridge to chill for an hour or so.
Cut the rhubarb into bitesize pieces and throw into roasting tin. Cover the pieces in the sugar and roast for 40 minutes. Keep an eye on them the last 10 minutes. You’ll be looking for syrup in the bottom of the pan while the rhubarb should be slightly soft but not mushy. Transfer to a bowl and leave to cool.
To make the pastry cream, heat the milk gently until starting to bubble. In a bowl, whisk the eggs and egg yolk, sugar, vanilla and cornflour. Slowly pour in the milk, whisking as you do so not to cook the eggs. Once finished, pour the whole mixture through a sieve into a pan and put back on a medium heat. At this point you’ll need to contintously whisk until the mixture starts to thicken. Stop and the mixture will go lumpy which is a nightmare to fix.Once the mixture is thick (after about 4 minutes), transfer to a bowl and cover with cling film, pressing in directly onto the cream to avoid a skin forming. Leave to cool.
Back to the pastry: roll the dough out between two sheets of clingfilm. Once thin enough, line the tarlet tins (or a tart tin if using instead). Stab the bottom of the pastry with a fork a couple of times and transfer the tartlet cases to the freezer. Freeze for up to 20 minutes. This allows you to bake the pastry without baking beads. Bake at 200 degrees Celsius for 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and leave to cool.
Once all components are cooled, you can assemble: take a pastry case and fill with the pastry cream (may need an extra whisk to loosen if you left it overnight). Smooth and top with pieces of the rhubarb.
For added extras, I sometimes like to add orange zest to the pastry or mix the rhubarb syrup left from roasting with some milk and corn flour to create a rhubarb cream to serve with.