Tickled pink in March’s kitchen

There’s nothing quite like the taste of the first, forced stems of rhubarb and the gorgeous rosy pink colour really brings us a taste of spring  I like to gently roast mine first in a moderate oven with a little orange juice, a sprinkling of sugar and a little diced stem ginger. It only takes about 10-15 minutes before it’s just tender. Then it can be enjoyed with ice cream, in smoothies or with a baked apple.

 This is great for a family pudding and if there are any leftovers it keeps really well for a few days in the fridge.

Rhubarb Frangipane Tart

Serves 8 Takes about an hour

5-7 stalks of rhubarb, cut into 2cm pieces

Juice of half an orange

Good 2 tablespoons brown sugar

Shortcrust pastry (I’ve cheated and used a ready made sweet dessert pastry.)

125g butter, room temperature

125g caster sugar

2 large eggs, beaten

125g ground almonds

2 tblsp plain flour

½ tsp baking powder

½ tsp almond essence

2 tblspn rhubarb jam (can use strawberry or raspberry)

Handful of flaked almonds

2 more tblspn rhubarb jam  (or apricot jam)

2 balls of stem ginger, diced (optional)

23cm loose bottomed tart tin, greased

  • Roll out the pastry on a floured surface and use to line the tart tin. Leave some pastry hanging over the edge of the tin – I find that the sweet pastry shrinks on cooking so this way you can trim to fit after baking. Pop in the fridge for half an hour to chill whilst you prepare the rhubarb.
  • Toss together the rhubarb, orange juice and sugar in a shallow roasting tin and pop in a preheated oven 180C(fan160)/gas 4 for about 15-20 minutes until the rhubarb is just tender but not mushy. Strain, reserving the juices in a small pan.
  • Turn the oven up a little more to 190C(fan 170)/gas 5 and prick the base of the pastry all over then line with scrunched up and flattened baking paper and fill with baking beans. Bake the pastry case for 10 minutes then carefully remove the paper and beans and cook for about 5 minutes more till the pastry is a light golden brown. Carefully trim the edges to the top of the tin.
  • In a large bowl beat together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy then add the eggs in 2 or 3 batches. Add a little of the measured flour if the mix starts to curdle. Fold in the flour, baking powder and almonds and add the almond essence. If you want a real hit of ginger add in the diced stem ginger as well.
  • Rhubarb frangipane tart - spread filling
  • Spread the rhubarb jam over the base of the pastry case then spoon on the frangipane mix and carefully level out the top.Rhubarb frangipane tart - press rhubarb into frangipane
  • Arrange the rhubarb over the top – you can make a pattern or place randomly and press gently into the mixture a little. I like to leave a circle in the middle and scatter over some flaked almonds. There will be some rhubarb left over – save for the sauce.
  • Pop in the oven and bake for 25-30 minutes until the filling is setting firm. Heat the rhubarb jam in the microwave a little then quickly brush over the top of the tart. Pop back in the over for another 5-10 minutes until the tart is golden, glazed and firm to the touch.
  • Cool in the tin for 15 minutes then turn out on a wire rack to cool.
  • Put the leftover rhubarb in the pan with the rhubarb juices and simmer until the rhubarb is soft. Blitz with a stick blender until you have a lovely thick rosy pink puree. Add a little water or juice if required.

To serve, warm the rhubarb puree a little and pour some over a large slice of the tart along with a good dollop of thick double cream.

Rhubarb frangipane tart - finished 3