Central Virginia Organic Gardener

"And 'tis my faith that every flower enjoys the air it breathes." - William Wordsworth, 1798

Friday, June 18, 2010

Too much rhubarb?

Photo: Dieter Weber(GNU free documentation license)

Too much rhubarb? I envy you. For 20 recipes for rhubarb, go to:
like rhubarb tart, below:

Rhubarb Tart with Lemon Verbena

For the filling:
- 1 kilo (2 pounds 3 ounces) untrimmed rhubarb, to yield about 800 grams (1 pound 12 ounces) when trimmed
- 80 grams (1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon) sugar (I use finely ground, blond raw sugar)
- 1 tablespoon uncooked small pearl tapioca (or semolina)
- about 12 leaves fresh lemon verbena
- 1 rounded tablespoon crème fraîche or heavy cream
- 1 large egg

For the dough:
- 200 grams (7 ounces, about 1 1/2 cups) pastry flour (in France, use a T45 or a T55)
- 80 grams (1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon) sugar (I use finely ground, blond raw sugar)
- 25 grams (1/4 cup) almond powder (a.k.a. almond meal)
- 120 grams (8 1/2 tablespoons) cold butter, diced (I use semi-salted; if you use unsalted, add a good pinch of salt), plus a little for the pan
- 1 large egg, beaten

Makes one 28-cm (11-inch) tart (plus leftover tart dough).

1. Prepare the rhubarb

Start about 3 hours before baking. Trim the ends of the rhubarb stalks (no peeling necessary) and slice into 2-cm (3/4-inch) chunks. Place in a nonreactive shallow dish, sprinkle with half of the filling's sugar (40 grams or about 3 tablespoons) and toss to coat. Leave to macerate at room temperature so it will release some of its juices.

2. Make the dough

Start about 2 hours before baking. Combine the pastry flour, sugar, almond powder, and salt if using, in the bowl of a food processor or stand mixer. Add the diced cold butter and mix until the mixture takes the consistency of breacrumbs. Add the egg and mix just until the dough starts to come together. (This can also be done by hand, but try to handle the dough as little as you can and without heating the butter too much with your hands.)

Turn out on a clean work surface. Divide the dough into one 300-gram (10 1/2-ounce) piece and one 180-gram (6 1/3-ounce) piece, and pat each piece of dough into a disk without kneading. Wrap each piece in plastic wrap.

You'll be using the larger of the two pieces for this tart. Place that one in the fridge and chill for 1 hour. (The other piece can be reserved -- and optionally frozen -- for another use; it is big enough to line a 22-cm [8 2/3-inch] tart pan.)

3. Roll out the dough

Remove the dough from the fridge and let it rest for a few minutes at room temperature so it's not too cold, or it won't roll out well.

Butter a 28-cm (11-inch) tart pan, preferably one with a removable bottom.

Roll the dough out on a lightly floured surface and transfer it to the pan to line it, crimping the sides all around with your fingers for a prettier effect. Don't worry if it tears -- just press it back together or patch it up if necessary. Prick the bottom with a fork a few times, and return to the fridge to rest for 30 minutes (this will prevent the dough from shrinking or sliding down the sides of the pan).

4. Prepare the lemon verbena syrup

While the crust is chilling, place a medium colander over a bowl and pour the rhubarb and juices through the colander to drain thoroughly. Set the rhubarb chunks aside, and transfer the strained juices to a small saucepan over high heat. Bring to a boil and reduce until you have about 80 ml (1/4 cup) juices. Remove from the heat, add the lemon verbena leaves and let steep.

5. Blind-bake the crust

Preheat the oven to 170°C (340°F) and insert the pan in the oven to blind-bake (i.e. bake without the filling) for 10 minutes.

6. Add the rhubarb

Remove the pan from the oven. Sprinkle the tapioca evenly across the bottom (this will help absorb the rhubarb juices and keep the crust crisp) and arrange the chunks of rhubarb on top in a crowded but single layer. Return to the oven for 20 minutes.

7. Add the custard

While the crust and rhubarb are baking, sieve the reduced juices into a bowl to remove the lemon verbena leaves (or just fish them out). Add the remaining sugar from the filling ingredients (40 grams or about 3 tablespoons), the cream, and the egg, and beat to combine.

Remove the tart from the oven and turn the oven off. Pour the egg mixture evenly over the rhubarb and return to the turned-off but closed oven for another 20 to 30 minutes, for the residual heat to gently set the custard.

8. Cool

Transfer to a rack and let cool completely before serving.

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