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Sunday, 4 August 2013

Rhubarb and Frangipane Tart

Here is another guest post, this time from the wonderful Naomi. Naomi, her husband Simon and I spend many Friday night dinners together, and I am always completely blown away with the dishes they make. They always seem to be trying something new and exciting, which I find so inspiring. Recent highlights include dhal-stuffed butternut squash, okra and tomato stew, and homemade elderflower cordial, with elderflowers picked outside our local pub The Queensbury

Naomi made this delicious rhubarb tart a few weeks ago, and it was so incredible that I have been pestering her for the recipe ever since. I have had frangipane tarts before, and normally the fruit/almond ratio isn’t quite right and they get a bit dry and cakey – but this one was perfect: sweet and sour, with just the right amount of goo. The straight-lines of the rhubarb also made it very easy to serve equal portions.

And now for Naomi's recipe: 

Serves 6-8

Approx 500g rhubarb (I’ve found one 400g pack will just about stretch, but any less than that and it can look a little sparse)
3 tbsp caster sugar
2 cups water
a few cardamom pods (to taste)
1 sheet good-quality puff pastry
1 free-range egg for an egg wash

For the frangipane filling:
75g unsalted butter
60g caster sugar
125g ground almonds
2 egg yolks
½ tsp vanilla extract

Pre-heat oven to 200˚C – I didn’t have a fan oven and put mine to this temperature, although I’ve seen some recipes with higher temperatures.
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1: Put the butter, sugar, ground almonds, egg yolks and vanilla essence in a bowl and mix until it is an even paste. I did this by hand, but you could use an electric mixer or food processor to speed things up. Mixing by hand, I found it easiest to cream the butter and sugar together first, and then add the almonds, egg yolks and vanilla essence after that, so that I had fewer lumps of butter through the frangipane mix.

2: Once mixed, put the frangipane mixture in the fridge and chill for 10-15 minutes or until required – if you do this first, then it can chill while you do everything else. (I have also made it where I mixed up the frangipane the day before and left it in the fridge over night.)

3: Cut the rhubarb into strips (about 2 inches/4-5cm in length), and with thick sticks of rhubarb, you may want to cut the sticks in half lengthwise as well. In two batches, place the rhubarb into a saucepan and pour in one cup of water and one tablespoon of caster sugar and some bashed cardamom pods/seeds/ground cardamom to taste. I have also made it all in one batch, but you just have to be very careful that the rhubarb cooks evenly! Still only use one cup (approx. 250ml) of water, but all three tablespoons of sugar.

4: Mix gently and bring to a simmer for no more than 3 minutes until the rhubarb is just tender and starting to soften. You want it to still hold its stick-like appearance and not go too soft for presentation purposes on the tart. I found that 2-3 minutes was plenty – my first batch went too soft in three and a half minutes! And another batch went too soft after 2 and a half (it clearly depends on the thickness and size of the rhubarb pieces). Transfer to a plate to cool as soon as you think it is ready to take out of the pan – it will keep cooking a little in the hot syrup/juices otherwise.

5: Repeat with remainder of rhubarb, water, cardamom and caster sugar, but keep the juices/syrup from the previous batch (in a cup/bowl/jug etc).

6: Remove pastry from packaging and lay flat. Roll out if needed. Score a 2cm border all around the pastry sheet, taking care not to cut all the way through. Prick the base of the pastry with a fork within the score lines.

7: Remove frangipane from fridge and spread onto pastry within the scored inner square lines. If too cold it might be a little difficult to spread due to firmness, but it should be pliable with fingers to spread out and break up evenly (I love cooking with my hands instead of implements).

8: Place rhubarb sticks onto frangipagne in vertical side-by-side lines.

9. Strain (or pick out any cardamom pods etc) and reduce the juices/syrup from when you cooked the rhubarb to a slightly thicker syrup. When thickened, pour over the rhubarb – this will form a beautiful glaze on top of the tart (and if you used any spices will add a hint more of that flavour). You might not want to pour it all on (or use a spoon to pour some on) as if the glaze gets over the pastry it might get in the way of the egg wash and may also encourage the pastry to burn in the oven. Ideally the glaze only goes on the rhubarb/frangipane bit in the middle, and not the pastry edges.

10: Brush edges of pastry with egg wash and place in oven for 35-40 minutes until pastry is cooked and edges are risen and golden.

Serve warm with cream or ice-cream.

Matching tablecloth not mandatory, but definitely adds to the whole dessert experience

Please click here to see the latest on the campaign to try and prevent the Queensbury pub from demolition

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