Colour. Sometimes a flash of vibrant colour inspires a wonderful creative moment, a mood, a story. At least it does for me – how about you? Colour and light, both so influential. There’s no getting away from it, England in February is not bathed in either glorious warm light nor rich bright colour. And I love both. But there are compensations – it’s taken me a little time to appreciate it but I do now see a quiet beauty in the subdued mood of a dull grey day. And actually, this light intensifies the vibrancy of colours – which can be all washed out under a bright sunlit sky.
So after a walk through a lonely feeling landscape, I met a glorious heap of rich red rhubarb at the farm shop. It brightened my whole day, my whole week. What a revelation. I’ve always quite liked rhubarb – without much passion – but this week, as my little boy like to say, like has turned to love.
Returning with a lovely brimming basket of produce, I set about photographing and baking. Two pleasures! How to do justice to this lovely rhubarb? I settled upon a tart of crisp puff pastry, filled with aromatic sweet almond cream and topped with rhubarb and muscovado sugar. I could hardly photograph the finished tart, so eager I was to share it and enjoy eating it! If you have a chance, do try making this – I think you’ll be very pleased.
A most delicious Rhubarb and Almond Tart
Rhubarb and Muscavado Sugar Compote
5-6 stalks of rhubarb. I’ve used the gorgeous, bright red forced rhubarb that’s currently in season. Wash and chop into 1 inch bits.
a scant cup of light brown muscovado sugar (This depends a bit on how tart the rhubarb is and how sweet you like things. Add a bit, and add more to suit.)
In a heavy pan, warm the sugar with a spoon or so of water and allow to melt into a syrup. Add the rhubarb and simmer over medium heat until it softens. Don’t overdo it, let it keep a little shape. Set aside to cool while you prepare the rest of the tart. Or just eat – it’s lovely with ice cream or custard. ( I ate the first batch this way!)
Frangipane – Almond Cream
100g butter, 100g sugar (caster or fine), 100g ground almonds, 25g plain flour, 2 eggs,1 teaspoon of vanilla. (Or a few drops of almond essence if you like an extra almond boost.)
In a bowl, mix well together the butter, well softened, with the sugar and almonds. Stir in the flour and then mix in the eggs and vanilla.
Puff Pastry and a small handful of flaked almonds
500g of puff pastry. I use a good, all butter pastry from the shop.
Heat oven to 200 degrees centigrade. Line a baking sheet (about 24-30 cms) with baking paper. Roll the pastry out to fit the size of the baking pan. Lay the pastry in the pan and brush the edges with a little beaten egg, and roll over slightly to make a border all around. Spoon the frangipane (almond cream) all over the pastry base and smooth out to an even layer. Then gently spoon the rhubarb compote over. Leave a few spaces in between the spoonfuls as the frangipane puffs up and browns around it nicely. Sprinkle with some flaked almonds. Bake for 20-25 minutes until the pasty is lovely and golden. Wait a few minutes for it to cool before enjoying it.
Can you give a bunch of rhubarb for Valentines Day? I, for one, would be happy to receive such a gift.
Happy Valentine’s day all. Thanks for stopping by and please do drop me a line/comment if you wish.