Rhubarb, rhubarb, rhubarb. So pink and glorious. A vivid beacon that signals the true arrival of spring, injecting a sharp jolt of colour into this until-now very grey of years. I love the stuff and have to reign myself in from using it in everything I cook at the moment.
I made this tart mostly because I wanted to make a bakewell tart. And then the rhubarb sneakily weaselled its way in there as a replacement for the more traditional raspberry jam. I was aiming for a gorgeous bright pink jam but I instead ended up with a murky green sludge. It looked like the slime they used to douse poor unsuspecting guests in on Fun House; gloopy, viscous and not particularly appealing. Do not judge a book by its cover, or a jam by its goo-like resemblance. It may not have looked like a rhubarb jam, but it very much tasted like one. Especially when gobbling hot guilty spoonfuls of it from the sticky pan.
I also wanted to make a brown bread ice cream to use my dusty ice cream machine which has been hibernating at the back of the cupboard. About six years ago, I BEGGED for an ice cream machine for my birthday. I pleaded with persuasive promises of frequently churned ices and sorbets. I assured that it would be my MOST used piece of kitchen equipment, that it would absolutely be worth it, and it definitely would not, under any circumstances, clutter up the kitchen. Six years later, and only one measly batch of Rolo ice cream under my belt, it was time for the whirring and churning to make a reappearance. And it was totally and utterly worth it. Studded with buttery, caramelized nuggets of toasty brown bread, the ice cream was rich and ever-so-slightly tangy from the sour cream. The smooth vanilla base was a soft cushion to the biscuity crunch of the crumb, and I could have easily polished off the whole lot. I’m not going to pretend that these two puds go together particularly well on the plate – the rhubarb bakewell tart only needed a dollop of cold crème fraîche as an accompaniment, and the ice cream…well, I just wanted to make it.
Rhubarb Bakewell Tart with Brown Bread Ice Cream
Adapted from Felicity Cloake’s Perfect Bakewell Tart
Makes a 23cm bakewell tart
For the pastry
- 140g plain flour, plus extra to sprinkle
- 85g cold butter, plus extra to grease
- Pinch of salt
- Ice cold water
For the rhubarb jam (not the recipe I used (gunge recipe), which is a good thing…)
For the frangipane
- 110g butter
- 110g caster sugar
- 2 eggs
- 110g ground almonds
- 25g plain flour
- ½ tsp baking powder
- Zest of ½ lemon
25g flaked almonds, to top
To make the pastry for the tart, mix the flour and salt in a bowl, and then grate in the cold butter. Rub this into the flour, then stir in just as much cold water as you need to bring it together into a dough; it should not be sticky. Alternatively use a food processor (which I did). Wrap in clingfilm and chill for at least an hour. Preheat the oven to 190°C (170°C fan)/gas mark 5.
Grease a 23cm tart tin and roll out the pastry on a lightly floured surface until large enough to line the tin. Do so, then line with baking paper and weigh down with baking beans or dried pulses. Bake for about 15 minutes until golden.
Meanwhile, make the rhubarb jam by putting the rhubarb into a large saucepan with the sugar. Heat gently, stirring, until all the sugar has dissolved, then squeeze in the lemon juice and increase the heat. Boil for about 10 mins, skimming off the scum as you go (the fruit should be soft). Once the jam is ready, let it cool slightly to one side.
To make the frangipane, cream together the butter and sugar until fluffy, then beat in the eggs. Fold in the dry ingredients and lemon zest and a pinch of salt.
Remove the paper and beans and return the pastry to the oven for a couple of minutes until golden. Spread the rhubarb jam over the base, and top with the frangipane. Level out and bake for 25 minutes until golden and well risen. Add the almonds on top in the last 5 minutes of cooking.
Brown Bread Ice Cream
About 1.25l (1¼ quarts)
For the caramelized brown bread crumbs:
- 2-3 slices of brown bread (250g)
- 45g (3 tbsp) butter, salted or unsalted
- 100g (½ cup) caster sugar
- ¾ teaspoon ground ginger
- ¼ teaspoon salt
For the ice cream custard:
- 250ml (1 cup) whole milk
- 375ml (1½ cups) double (heavy) cream
- 65g (1/3 cup) caster sugar plus 65g (1/3 cup) brown sugar (dark or light)
- A pinch of salt
- 225g (8 ounces) sour cream
- 5 large egg yolks
- ½ tsp vanilla extract
To make the brown bread crumbs, preheat the oven to 180ºC (350ºF ).
Crumble the bread into small, bite-sized bits. The largest should be no bigger than a kernel of corn. Heat the butter in a frying pan until it melts, then continue to cook until it starts to brown. Remove from the heat and stir in the bread bits, 100g (½ cup) sugar, cinnamon, and salt.
Spread on the baking sheet and cook for 20 to 30 minutes, stirring a few times during baking, until the bread bits are well-toasted; a deep, dark brown. Cool completely.
To make the ice cream, heat the milk, 125ml (½ cup) of double cream, sugar and salt in a saucepan. Pour the remaining 250ml (1 cup) into a medium-sized bowl and the sour cream. Set a mesh strainer over the top and set the bowl in an ice bath.
In a separate bowl, stir together the egg yolks. Gradually pour some of the warm milk mixture into the yolks, whisking constantly as you pour. Scrape the warmed yolks and milk back into the saucepan. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly and scraping the bottom with a heat-resistant spatula, until the custard thickens enough to coat the spatula. Strain the custard into the heavy cream and sour cream and stir until smooth. Stir in the vanilla.
Refrigerate until thoroughly chilled, preferably overnight, then freeze in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Once churned, quickly fold in about two-thirds of the brown bread crumbs, or as much as to your liking, then store the ice cream in the freezer until firm and ready to serve.