The colours at this rather grey time of year are magical

Thomasina Miers says: ‘Forced rhubarb gives this ice cream a beautifully pale pink shade, and its sharp yet creamy flavour, with the subtleness of vanilla wafting through at the end, is sheer luxury. I love to serve a scoop with fingers of vanilla-poached rhubarb, and its vivid, almost neon-pink syrup poured over it. The colours at this rather grey time of year are magical, and I always get a charge from the freshness of rhubarb. ‘

Thomasina Miers

Winter-rhubarb ice cream

Extract from Skye Gyngell’s A Year In My Kitchen Published by Quadrille

Serves 10

Winter rhubarb is my favourite kind. Its beautiful, pale colour and bitter, limey yellow leaves are lovely to behold. Cooked gently in a little water with a spoonful or two of sugar and a vanilla pod, the tender, pink stalks taste wonderful. They also make a delicious ice cream.

Ingredients

Custard base
450ml double cream
150ml whole milk
1 vanilla pod, split lenghways
6 organic free-range egg yolks
120g caster sugar

Rhubarb flavouring
1kg rhubarb
1 vanilla pod, split lengthways
180g caster sugar
250ml verjuice (unfermented grape juice) or water

Method

Start by making the custard base for the ice cream. Pour the cream and milk into a heavy-based pan and place over a low heat. Scrape the vanilla seeds from the pod and add them to the creamy milk with the pod. Slowly bring to just below the boil, remove from the heat and set aside for 15 minutes.

In the meantime, beat the egg yolks and sugar together in a mixing bowl with a whisk until the mixture becomes thicker and paler. Gently reheat the creamy milk and pour onto the egg-yolk mixture, stirring with the whisk as you do so.

Return the custard to the saucepan and place over the lowest possible heat. Stir gently until the custard thickens-this will take 6-8 minutes (don’t be tempted to increase the heat, or you’ll have scrambled eggs). It should be thick enough to lightly coat the back of a wooden spoon. Draw a finger along the back of the spoon-it ought to leave a clear trace.

As soon as the custard thickens, remove it from the heat, pour into a bowl and allow to cool. Don’t leave it in the saucepan, as the heat of the pan will continue to cook it

Wash and trim the rhubarb, then cut into 5cm chunks. Place in a saucepan with the vanilla pod, sugar and verjuice or water. Place over a medium-low heat and stir gently. Bring to a simmer, then turn down the heat and cook gently for 10 minutes or so, stirring occasionally. The rhubarb should be soft, but not completely falling apart.

Using a slotted spoon, transfer the rhubarb to a bowl. Turn the heat up under the pan and let the liquor bubble until it’s reduced by half. (Rhubarb gives off a lot of liquid during cooking-reducing it down intensifies the flavour.) The reduced liquor should be sharp and sweet at the same time. Pour it over the rhubarb and allow to cool.

Once the custard ice-cream base has cooled completely, pour it into your ice-cream maker and churn until thickened. Just before the ice cream sets, pour in the cool rhubarb and churn for a further 10 minutes before serving.