Now's the time to make the most of rhubarb.
Forced rhubarb from the famed Yorkshire triangle is available now and young rhubarb stalks are beginning to emerge in my kitchen garden. Whether you’re growing it or buying it, now’s the time to make the most of rhubarb before the woodiness sets in. This week’s recipe uses well-matched flavours to create a pretty pie you’ll be proud of.
Rhubarb, blood-orange and ginger heart pie (serves 4)
200g plain flour
50g almond flour
Half a teaspoon baking powder
2tspn ground ginger
40g caster sugar
180g unsalted butter, cold and cut into cubes
50ml water, cold
50g unsalted butter, chopped
2 blood oranges, plus zest
750g rhubarb, cut into 1in pieces
50g preserved ginger, thinly sliced
220g caster sugar
30g brown sugar for sprinkling
To make the pastry, add the cold, cubed butter to the flour, almond flour, baking powder, ginger and caster sugar in a large bowl or the bowl of a food processor, then either use your fingertips to rub the mixture to a consistency that resembles breadcrumbs or pulse in the processor. Add the water and rub or pulse a little more until the dough comes together, then wrap the pastry in clingfilm and refrigerate for an hour.
Cook the rhubarb with the butter, sugar and zest from one of the oranges in a pan until it’s tender and the liquid has become syrupy, then set aside and refrigerate until ready to use.
Preheat the oven to 180 ̊C/350 ̊F/gas mark 4 and add the cooked rhubarb, sliced preserved ginger and slices of the blood orange to a pie tin, before removing the pastry from the fridge and rolling it out to the thickness of a pound coin. Then, using a heart- shaped cutter, cut out lots of pastry hearts and arrange them, so they overlap slightly, all over the top of the rhubarb—you’ll probably need to mould the remainder of the pastry together and roll it.
Sprinkle brown sugar over the top of the pie and bake for 25 minutes until it’s a lovely golden brown. Serve while still warm with crème fraîche mixed with ginger syrup from a jar of preserved ginger or ginger ice cream.
More ways with rhubarb
Rhubarb and lemon-thyme profiteroles
Make choux pastry by combining 50g butter, 50ml water and 50ml milk, 20g sugar and a pinch of salt in a saucepan. Heat all the ingredients gently together before bringing to a boil and immediately adding 100g plain flour, then remove from the heat and mix well. Add 3 beaten eggs and mix until smooth and glossy. Line a baking sheet with parchment, pipe balls of mixture onto it and bake in a moderate oven for 20–25 minutes. Remove and make a hole underneath each profiterole before returning to the oven for 5 minutes. Whip 200ml double cream and fold 200g rhubarb and vanilla compote (see recipe below) through it, then use a piping bag to fill each profiterole via the hole in the bottom you made earlier. Finally, drizzle with icing sugar mixed with a little water and a dusting of icing sugar and lemon thyme before serving.
Rhubarb and lemon-thyme compote
Take about 5 stalks of rhubarb, trim and cut into 1in pieces, then sprinkle 50g caster sugar and about a teaspoon of thyme leaves—or more if you’d like the thyme flavour to be stronger— over the top and leave to marinate for about half an hour. Simmer the infused rhubarb in a pan for about 20 minutes and, once cooked, allow it to cool and store in a sealed container in your fridge to enjoy later with porridge, ice cream, custard or in profiteroles (see above).