I am not an obsessive baker like many food bloggers. Certainly not in the sweet sense. I love salt, broth, tender meat, spritely vegetables and all the other things that make savoury sing. I have always loved confectionery, especially making it, and I am partial to a lemon meringue pie, victoria sponge, swiss roll and lots of old school classics, but that was it when it came to home baking. I simply wasn’t all that inspired to explore beyond that. I was happy with my salt.
Then something changed. In the last few months I have developed a sweet tooth (which sits nicely next to my very happy salty one). In fact, I think that all of my teeth might be salty, and now there is one shiny sweet one in the mix.
And then there is rhubarb. Lovely pink tender rhubarb. Slender and elegant, the rhubarb of January in the UK is Yorkshire forced rhubarb (also called champagne rhubarb), grown in the dark in long sheds in the Yorkshire rhubarb triangle, and harvested by candlelight (it is an old Victorian technique). It spends a lifetime stretching for the light but never reaching it, trapped beneath the terracotta urn that houses it. Yorkshire rhubarb brightens January, and I always look forward to it.
Rhubarb goes beautifully with pistachio and rose and I was recently reminded just how much I love simple frangipane when I baked David Lebovitz lovely Galette des Rois. Frangipane is a simple almond cream, made with ground almonds, egg, butter, sugar and aromatics (rum and almond extract for example), but it can also be made with ground pistachios, and in this case, rosewater.
I made this several times in order to get it right (well I do always properly test my recipes anyway, but this required about 5 attempts to be perfect). I didn’t bother making pastry as puff pastry is such a faff and it is fairly easy to get all butter pre made puff pastry now (I always have some in the freezer for … er… emergencies), but I did play with frangipane to get it just so, and also the rhubarb, being oh so tender and slight, didn’t work pre-poached as it just fell to bits while roasting. So, I tried poaching, poaching so lightly in syrup before trying the very simple solution of putting the rhubarb on to the tart raw. Perfect. It doesn’t need extra sugar as there is plenty in the frangipane which will rise up around it.
It is very important that you score the tart edges properly and try not to get the frangipane on or over the lines, I am clumsy and so did. But, learn from my mistakes. You may not use all of your frangipane either but why not make a couple of smaller hand pie size tarts on the side?
Enjoy! It is very more-ish.
Recipe: Rhubarb, Pistachio & Rose Frangipane Tart
Serves 9 – 12 depending on how big you slice it
350g rhubarb, washed and cut into 2 inch lengths, halved lengthwise if thick
1 sheet of all butter puff pastry approx 30cm x 20cm and a tray that will accommodate it
1 egg beaten to egg wash the edges
Pistachio and Rose Frangipane
100g pistachio, shelled
100g light brown sugar
2 tsp rosewater
½ tsp vanilla extract
1 large egg
Preheat your oven to 220 deg C.
Make your frangipane first. Using a food processor or blender, grind the pistachios to fine crumbs. Add the butter, sugar, rosewater and vanilla and mix well (very easy in a food processor but you can do it by hand too). Add your egg and incorporate it fully. Store in the fridge for at least 15 minutes while you prepare the rest of the tart.
Prepare your rhubarb. Grease a tray that will accommodate your pastry sheet with butter and put the sheet on top of it. Using a sharp knife, cut a line one inch from the edge of the pastry all around it, taking care to cut almost but not completely through (this will allow the edge to rise). Prick the centre every now and then with a fork.
Spread a thin layer of frangipane within the scored lines – you will notice I missed a few bits in my photo and my tart did suffer – any overlap will form an ugly frangipane crust on the edges.
Layer the rhubarb on top and place in the oven for 25 – 30 minutes, when the edges will be risen and golden and the frangipane puffed up. Remove from the tray and leave to cool on a cooling rack. The tart will relax and become flatter.
Serve at room temperature. Enjoy!