The earliest records for rhubarb date back to 2700 BC in China where it was cultivated for medicinal purposes.
We’re getting towards the end of our short forced rhubarb season, and it’s always a treat to see it nestled, glowing pink, in a crate at the market stalls. I’m always sad to see it disappear, as I think it’s one of the most wonderful vegetables.
Make the most of it while it lasts with this recipe for a tasty rhubarb crumble tart – it makes 12 portions.
For the frangipane you’ll need 250g unsalted butter, 250g caster sugar, 50g plain flour, 250g ground almonds, 4 eggs. For the crumble, you’ll need 350g plain flour, 200g brown sugar, 100g caster sugar, 2 lemons, zested, 165g unsalted butter, 250g toasted hazelnuts, chopped, 750mls water, 500g caster sugar, 500g sugar pastry, 500g rhubarb, peeled and sliced into 1cm chunks.
To prepare the frangipane cream together the butter and sugar. Beat in the flour and almonds, then the eggs. Prepare the crumble by rubbing together the flour, sugars, lemon zest and butter, then mix in the hazelnuts. Bring the water and the sugar to the boil and blanch the rhubarb for 2 mins until tender. Strain and cool. Reduce the sugar solution to a syrup. Roll out the sugar pastry to 3mm thick and use to line a buttered flan case. Bake blind at 170C for 10-15 mins. Mix the cooked rhubarb with the frangipane and spoon into the tart case. Cook at 160C for 25-30 mins until firm to touch. Sprinkle with the crumble mix and bake at 200C for 5-10 mins until golden.
Serve warm with whipped cream and the reduced rhubarb syrup, rhubarb compote and ice cream.
Chef’s tip: Rhubarb leaves are poisonous and should be removed to the compost heap. When buying fresh rhubarb, look for moderately thin, crisp, dark pink to red stalks. Greener, thicker stalks are stringier, coarser, and sourer.
Fresh rhubarb is quite perishable. Place the stalks in a plastic bag to retain moisture and store for three to five days in the refrigerator crisper drawer. To freeze, cut the rhubarb stalks into one inch chunks and seal in an airtight bag. Frozen rhubarb will keep up to a year at zero degrees F.