Tarte à la Rhubarbe et Citron (Rhubarb and Lemon Tart)
Not tarts again?! Well, why not a tart? There is always something welcoming and cosy about tarts and pies. At the back of my mind from my childhood, there is an image of a young Edwardian lady who baked a tart and left it by the windowsill to cool. She came back only to find half the pastry was gone and the story ends with her finding out which child steal the tart with some wit and charm. It stayed with me till now because it brought romance and beauty from a lost time. If I could time travel, I would love to go back into the past and see how people lived then. (WHERE ARE YOU, DOCTOR?)
Anyway, I digress. The tart is a simple way to let rhubarb shine and do its natural job of pushing its flavours through. By pairing the tart-y rhubarb beside the citrus sourness of lemon, it already did not sound like a dessert without squeezing one’s face in distaste. But really, both ingredients melded very well together and instead of having a gastronomic battle in the mouth, one is treated to a surprisingly slightly sharp nectar-like tang. Maybe it was because N reduced the amount of sugar than specified as there are parents who don’t partake to sugar overdoses very well.
Can we just make it official that rhubarb is the prettiest vegetable to cook? The moment the stems are heated up with sugar, a deep vivacious fuchsia blossoms and bubbles. The rhubarb pieces dazzle like precious jewels from inside the lemon custard. Just seeing the colours just bring a smile to one’s face. If this doesn’t scream the herald of spring with so much ecstasy, I don’t know what else can do the same. With this being our first experience with rhubarb, there will be plenty of fond memories and more to come in the future.
For the Sweet Shortcrust Pastry
350g plain flour
pinch of sea salt
125g unsalted butter, cold and flattened out in between two sheets of greaseproof paper to 1cm thick 125g caster sugar
2 eggs and 1 egg yolk
1 egg yolk, beaten for egg wash
455g rhubarb, peeled and chopped into 3/4 inch pieces 113g sugar
For the Lemon cream filling
2 egg yolks
89ml double cream
Finely grated zest of a quarter lemon
For the sweet shortcrust pastry, preheat the oven to 190C.
Lightly grease and flour 28.5cm x 20.5cm rectangular loose bottomed tins.
Stir the flour and salt together in a large mixing bowl. Add the flattened butter, cold straight from the fridge into the flour and rub in the mixture, until mixture looks like crumbs.
Add the sugar and toss well in the mixture. Then add the eggs and egg yolk to the mixture and gently mix with a dough scraper, until the dough comes together in a ball.
Lightly flour a work surface, tip the pastry ball out onto it and knead until you have a smooth soft dough. Shape the pastry into a square, to make it easier to roll out later on.
Place the dough in the fridge to chill for an hour minimum, preferably overnight, to rest.
Remove the pastry from the fridge and lightly flour a work surface. Roll out the pastry to 3mm thick with a rolling pin and line the tin. Use the rolling pin to roll on top of the tin to cut off the excess pastry dough. Place some baking paper over the top and fill with baking beans. Rest in the fridge for 30 minutes.
Put a baking to heat in the preheated oven. Lay the tart on the baking sheet (this provides immediate heat and an even temperature) and blind bake the pastry for 10 minutes. Remove beans and the paper then brush with beaten egg yolk and place back in the oven for 3 to 5 minutes. Remove from oven and leave to cool.
Bring water and sugar to boil in a saucepan, add the chopped rhubarb, and simmer for one minute. Drain and reserve the rhubarb. You can also reserve the sugar liquid to dress the tart later on.
Beat the egg yolks and sugar in a bowl for 10 minutes until the volume has tripled. Mix the double cream and lemon zest in.
Arrange the rhubarb on the bottom of the tart, then cover with the lemon cream filling. With the oven still heating on 190C, bake the tart for 25 to 30 minutes. Remove from oven and leave to rest in tin for 5 to 10 minutes, before removing tart from tin carefully. Leave to cool for an hour before serving.
Please watch Richard Bertinetʼs thorough videos of how to make sweet shortcrust pastry and how to line them in a tin. His pastry recipes have never failed and the videos impart so much more than a recipe instruction can.
Do not boil the rhubarb more than 1 minute or it will turn into mash after baking the tart. You will want the rhubarb to retain its shape.