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nosh friday: rhubarb custard tart

May 21, 2010

(This edition of Nosh Friday is brought to you while I am thousands of feet up in the air, on my way to the Left Coast. Oh, the joys of scheduled blog posts! I don’t plan on updating much while in California — I’m not bringing my laptop — but I am pre-scheduling a few things here and there. I can’t leave you all alone, can I?)

As you see, another dessert is gracing Nosh Friday. You may be beginning to ask yourselves questions — “Does this girl eat anything but dessert? Is there a vegetable to be found in her house? Is she physically able to get out of her front door?”

Well, the answer to all those questions is, of course, YES. I actually try to eat healthy, balancing my insane sweet tooth and dearest love for baking with frequent trips to the Farmer’s Market, eating whole grains, not eating much meat, drinking lots of water and walking as much as I can.

But indeed, today, I wanted to share another sweets recipe with you, if that’s okay. (Let’s be honest, baked goods and desserts are mostly what you will see ’round these parts. If you’re looking for recipes for pork loin or lasagna, might I gently suggest you look elsewhere).

Rhubarb is bursting into season here in the Mitten and it brings me great joy (and a full fridge). I came upon this cardamom-spiked recipe on Tartlette last week and knew I had to try it. Not only does it contain things I dearly love (rhubarb! cardamom! custard!), it also was a tart and I myself just recently became the owner of a tart pan. It was recipe kismet.

Rhubarb Custard Tart
From Tartlette, crust recipe slightly adapted from Smitten Kitchen

For the crust

(*Note: I found the crust recipe from Tartlette to be…well…disastrous. Most likely due to my own unpracticed hand, it crumbled into bits even after chilling and had to meet its maker in the garbage. What a waste of butter.)

Makes enough for one 9-inch tart crust

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1 stick plus 1 tablespoon (9 tablespoons; 4 1/2 ounces) very cold (or frozen) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 large egg

Pulse the flour, sugar, cardamom and salt together in the bowl of a food processor. Scatter the pieces of butter over the dry ingredients and pulse until the butter is coarsely cut in. (You’re looking for some pieces the size of oatmeal flakes and some the size of peas.) Break the egg into a small dish, stirring the yolk just to break it up, and add it through the neck of the food processor a little at a time, pulsing after each addition. When the egg is in, process in long pulses–about 10 seconds each–until the dough, which will look granular soon after the egg is added, forms clumps and curds. (Mine formed much more quickly than Deb’s instructions said, but it might be different for you. Just keep a close eye on it — you don’t want to overwork the gluten in the dough or you will end up with a rubbery crust.)

Turn the dough out onto a work surface and, very lightly and sparingly, knead the dough just to incorporate any dry ingredients that might have escaped mixing. Pat into a disc and chill the dough, wrapped in plastic, for about 2 hours before rolling.

To roll the dough: Butter a 9-inch fluted tart pan with a removable bottom. Roll out chilled dough on floured sheet of parchment paper to 12-inch round, lifting and turning dough occasionally to free from paper. (Alternately, you can roll this out between two pieces of plastic, though flour the dough a bit anyway.) Using paper as aid, turn dough into 9-inch-diameter tart pan with removable bottom; peel off paper. (You can also roll it loosely up on your rolling pin — a Jamie Oliver trick I plan to try the next time.)

Seal any cracks in dough. Trim overhang to 1/2 inch. Fold overhang in, making double-thick sides. (I was concentrating too hard on not screwing up my first pastry, so I didn’t do this.) Pierce crust all over with fork.

Freeze the crust for at least 30 minutes, preferably longer, before baking. Since you froze the crust, you can bake it without weights. (I also didn’t do this — I just used a circle of parchment paper and dry beans to weight the crust while it par-baked. You could do this if you, unlike me, have a freezer larger than that of Barbie’s. However, my crust did shrink just a teeny bit, so I might try this the next time.)

Par-bake the crust by positioning a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Put the tart pan on a baking sheet and bake the crust for 15 to 20 minutes, or until pale golden brown. Let it cool.

For the filling:

CUSTARD
3 eggs
1 cup sugar
1 cup sour cream
1/2 teaspoon cardamom

Whisk the eggs and sugar together until light and airy. Add the sour cream and cardamom and whisk until combined. Set aside.

POACHED RHUBARB

Juice of one lemon
1/2 cup white wine
2 tablespoons honey
5 stalks rhubarb, chopped into small pieces (1/2 inch)

Combine all ingredients except the rhubarb into a saucepan and place over medium heat until boiling. Add the rhubarb and poach for 2 to 3 minutes until softened, then remove from the heat and using a slotted spoon, place the rhubarb in a separate bowl to cool.

Now, to finish the tart!

Adjust the oven to 350 degrees F.

Scatter the poached rhubarb in the cooled shell and pour custard over top. (I had about an extra cup of leftover custard, probably because the bottom crust of the tart was a little too thick. If you have extra, just bake alongside the tart as a bonus dessert!)

Bake until golden brown, about 20 to 25 minutes, and let cool. Slice into wedges and serve cold.

I liked this tart — not too sweet, not too rich. And it maintained the flavor of the rhubarb — tart, soft and perfectly springy. It wasn’t difficult to make, it only involved a lot of steps that included a lot of waiting. If you have a free afternoon and feel like something yummy, I’d recommend it.

Mange, mange! (Eat, eat!)

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