Rhubarb and Pomona trifle

Serves 4

Down on Burrow Hill farm in Somerset, Julian Temperley produces an aperitif called Pomona, which is blended from cider-apple juices fortified with cider brandy and Kingston Black apple aperitif, which is rather like a West Country version of Pineau des Charentes. It’s a perfect dessert or cheese partner and adds a very British touch to trifle. Available from the Somerset Distillery (01460 240782; www.ciderbrandy.co.uk).

Ingredients

250g rhubarb
2 sheets (6g) of leaf gelatine
20g-30g sponge fingers, broken into small pieces
50g caster sugar 200ml Pomona or Kingston Black fortified wine

For the custard

Quarter of a vanilla pod
250ml single cream
4 large egg yolks
40g caster sugar
2tsp cornflour

For the topping

150ml double cream
40g caster sugar

Method

Pre-heat the oven to 180˚C/gas mark 5. Chop the rhubarb into rough 1cm-2cm pieces and place on a baking tray scattered with sugar. Cover with foil and cook for 10-12 minutes, or until the rhubarb is just cooked. Remove the foil and drain into a sieve, set over a bowl to catch the juices. Soak the gelatine in a container of cold water for 2-3 minutes until soft, then squeeze out the excess water.

Reheat the juice from the rhubarb in a small pan, remove from the heat and stir in the gelatine until dissolved, then add the Pomona and 100ml water and mix well. Spoon three-quarters of the rhubarb into a large serving bowl or individual glasses or coupes and divide the sponge fingers between the bowls, then pour the jelly mixture over and refrigerate for a couple of hours or so, or until set.

To make the custard, split the vanilla pod lengthways and scrape out the seeds. Put the single cream, vanilla pod and seeds into a small saucepan; bring to the boil. Remove from the heat and infuse for 10 minutes.

In a bowl, mix the yolks, sugar and cornflour. Take out the vanilla pod and pour the cream onto the egg mixture; mix well with a whisk. Return to the pan and cook over a low heat for a few minutes, stirring constantly until it thickens. (Don’t let it boil!) Remove from the heat and give it a final whisk.

Transfer it to a bowl, lay a sheet of clingfilm over the surface to prevent skin forming and leave to cool for 45 minutes. Once the jelly has set, spoon the custard over, then leave to set for an hour or so in the fridge.

Rhubarb pie

Serves 6-8

This is my favourite pastry for sweet pies-it has a fantastic texture that reminds me of the kind of pastry my grandmother used to make. The trouble is, I can’t remember what she used to put in her pastry!

Ingredients

1kg rhubarb, trimmed and chopped into rough 2cm pieces
1 large cooking apple, peeled, cored and roughly chopped
1 egg white
300g granulated sugar, plus a little extra for the top

For the pastry

110g soft butter
135g caster sugar
225g strong flour
½ tsp baking powder
A pinch of salt
125ml double cream

Method

Put the rhubarb and apple in a thick-bottomed pan with the sugar and cook on a medium heat with a lid on for 3-4 minutes, stirring every so often. Remove the lid and cook for another 10 minutes on a fairly high heat, until the rhubarb is soft and most of the liquid has evaporated, and the mixture has a jammy consistency. Remove from the heat and leave to cool. Preheat the oven to 200°C/Gas mark 6.

To make the pastry, cream the butter and sugar, sieve the baking powder and flour together and stir into the butter mix with the salt, then slowly pour in the cream until well mixed. Chill for about 30 minutes before rolling.

Then, line a 20cm by 2cm-3cm deep flan ring with a circle of greaseproof paper or foil and fill with baking beans. Bake the tart for 15-20 minutes, or until the pastry is lightly coloured.

Meanwhile, roll the rest of the pastry out just a little larger than the tart. You can make a straightforward full pie top or cut the pastry into strips about 1cm wide to lay on top in a lattice pattern. If you have a lattice cutter, roll it over the pastry, making slits, and stretch it to form a lattice effect.

Remove the baking beans and paper from the tart and spoon the rhubarb mixture in. Lay the rest of the pastry over the top, trim the edges and press them on to the edges of the pastry base with your thumb and forefinger. Brush the top with egg white and scatter some granulated sugar on top.

Bake for about 30-35 minutes until the top is a golden crisp. Leave to cool to room temperature and serve with thick custard, or clotted or thick Jersey cream.

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