Kate’s rhubarb and custard tart with almond and rosemary pastry

It’s time for a sweet pastry or patisserie and this one caught my eye because it has rhubarb and I think rhubarb is in season. Also I saw it recently in a produce store and made a mental note to go back just in case it’s not in season the next time I happen upon this section of the bakebook.

It’s a three-spoon recipe, which should be enough to fill me with trepidation, but it also goes onto two pages and, now that I’m writing this, I see that the recipe is wrongly titled:

Kate’s rhubarb and custard tart with almond and raspberry pastry

There is no raspberry anywhere in this recipe. Rosemary is in the ingredient list and in the pastry, but raspberry is not.

This book needs a better editor.

Hey BBC Books! I edit things! Let me know if I can help with the next edition!

With a laissez-faire attitude, I began to bake.

First up was tackling the pastry, thanks to a food processor. Kate told me to put the flour, ground almonds, sugar and rosemary leaves into the processor bowl and pulse to combine.

I have a question for Kate. What counts as a rosemary “leaf”? Also can needles be called leaves? Do you take one little needle or does a clump of needles count as a leaf? It says one small spring or about 6 leaves of fresh rosemary, but even the smallest sprig had a lot of “leaves” on it. Leaves that are definitely needles.

You’re not off to a good start, Kate.

Then I was told to add the butter and pulse until it made a fine crumb mixture.

I then took a photo of the fine crumb mixture but just realized now that it’s blurry and that’s not worth it. So just believe me that it was a fine crumb mixture and that I added an egg yolk.

Kate promised that it would make “a heavy biscuit-like dough.”

Kate may have lied to me.

I poured the mixture onto a piece of clingfilm and tried to form it into a disc there.

It kind of worked.

I put it in the fridge to chill and then got started on the rhubarb purée.

I’ve never had to buy rhubarb before and I successfully guessed on the first try how many stalks made 500 grams.

I was about to chop it up into 2 inch chunks and then looked closer and realized it said “2 cm chunks,” so I’m glad I read that twice.

I threw it in a pot with water and sugar and a snapped-in-half cinnamon stick and put the heat on medium to cook it.

I then waited until the sugar dissolved.

And then waited until it boiled.

And then dropped it down to a simmer and waited a further 10 minutes.

Then found a couple of raw chunks and moved those to the bottom of the pot.

And then waited.

And then took it off the heat to cool.

And waited.

As that cooled, I prepped the flan tin.

Kate told me to use a “deep flan tin” but as you may recall, I’ve been burned by that before and looked like a fool. Like a fool!

I ultimately decided to go with the deeper flan tin with this recipe, though, due to the sheer mass of pastry dough that was chilling. Also I looked ahead to the custard section of the recipe and saw 9 egg yolks and over 500 ml of double cream. Hence my decision.

With the tin prepped and the rhubarb cooled, I put it into the freshly washed food processor to purée it.

Then I followed Kate’s instructions to “pass the purée throgh a sieve into a jug.”

Except I didn’t use a jug.

And good thing, too.

I made a mess.

It was just too much work, guys.

Too tedious.

I had to push the purée through the top and then scrape it off the bottom.

I set aside the purée and then tried to roll out the pastry dough.

Honestly? It didn’t go well.

The dough was somehow both too crumbly and too buttery. I floured my counter and it still stuck. I tried moving it into the flan tin and it broke apart, so I went with option B which is piecing it together like a jigsaw puzzle within the tin.

Good enough.

I put that in the freezer this time, thinking that the fridge may not have been cold enough for the first chilling session.

And then I reached into my sink and stabbed myself on the food processor blade.

*15 minutes later*

After 15 minutes of me trying to clear some space (an impossible feat), I pulled the tin out of the freezer and pricked it with a fork…

…filled it with crumpled baking paper and baking beads…

…and then I baked it for 15-18 minutes.

Well, I baked it for 15 minutes, checked, and saw nearly raw dough and kept it in for another few minutes, pulled it out, lifted the paper and the top layer of dough came off with the paper.

So that happened.

I was tempted to start from scratch but I’m trying to be more open to failure and figured this would be a great opportunity for that.

I was supposed to brush the baked pastry dough with a beaten egg (I used some of the egg whites and egg yolks that I separated already), but the dough moved around and a hole was left.

I tried to patch it up with a spatula and then baked it for an additional 15 minutes.

While it baked, I got started on the custard.

I put the 9 egg yolks and sugar into my KitchenAid bowl, figuring I could use the whisk attachment to give this KitchenAid another try.

I tried.

It was taking way too long. So I switched to the handheld mixer.

And it got the job done much faster.

While I was mixing the eggs, I started to heat up the cream.

While the cream was heating up, the pastry seemed to be dark enough to support custard, so I removed that from the oven.

I kept an eye on the cream and saw that it was starting to boil.

I then turned around for literally less than a second and this happened.

Of course.

With the mixer running on low speed, I slowly poured the boiled cream into the egg mixture.

I then took out the cleaned sieve and poured the custard through.

The custard looks impressive. I do have to say that. And if I didn’t boil over the cream, it would’ve been a super easy process.

With everything ready to be assembled, I put the purée into a plastic bag and got ready to pipe it into a spiral.

I didn’t do a great job. But I didn’t want to waste it so I kept piping into a spiral-on-spiral situation until I filled up the bottom. (Kate told me I’d have some left over.)

I know. It doesn’t look super appetizing.

I then poured the custard onto the rhubarb and put it in the oven.

While that baked for 10-12 minutes, I took a moment of silence for the two elements that had boiled cream caked on them and in them and under them.

It was probably time for me to clean my stove anyway.

*10 to 12 minutes later*

After 10-12 minutes, I pulled the oven shelf carefully out, adding the rest of the rhubarb purée on top, and then watched it sink in.

I don’t think it was supposed to sink in.

*40 to 45 minutes later*

Considering that everything else took longer, I kept this in the oven for the full 45 minutes. That may have been a mistake.

But no turning back! Powering through the failure!

Adding nutmeg!

Now here’s the thing with this fella.

He took about four and a half hours to complete, but he still has to cool down before I can put him in the fridge. (This got weird using “he” as the pronoun instead of “it.”) It was about 9:45 p.m. at this point and I knew if I went to bed, I would forget about it. But I also knew that if I fell asleep on my couch to The Office, I would wake up at around midnight, at which point I could put the tart in the fridge and go to real bed.

So that’s what I did.

*the next day*

I brought this recipe to work and profusely apologized. The combination of custard, rosemary and rhubarb seemed confusing to me. I knew the crust would be problematic. I had no idea what to expect.

I tried to unmould the tart tin and it would not budge.

It was very problematic.

I tried hard, guys.

Then I gave up and cut it in the tin and scooped it out.

And I gave it a try.

Was it terrible? No. Did it taste good? I guess so.

Other people seemed to really enjoy it, but I struggle with things that hover between sweet and savoury. Be one or other!

The custard was really tasty. Rhubarb was okay, but it’s not my favourite. The rosemary crust would’ve been better suited to a quiche, I think.

Was it worth the work? Nope. Does it matter because I told myself I needed to finish this book? Nope. Did I confuse myself with that last question? Yep.

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