This almond shortcrust custard tart is a favourite of mine all year round to serve piled high with whatever vibrant red or purple fruit is in season. In late winter/early spring, that means lightly poached rhubarb and segments of blood orange. As we go through the seasons we’ll find it goes great with strawberries, cherries, raspberries, plums, damsons and blackberries.
For the pastry
- 70g almond meal
- 200g plain flour
- pinch of salt
- 130g butter, cold and cut into cubes
- 60g icing sugar
- 2 egg yolk
- 2 tsp water
Combine the almond meal, plain flour, salt and cold butter in the bowl of a food processor and pulse to create a breadcrumb-like texture. Sift in the icing sugar and pulse again to combine. Beat egg yolks and water together and mix into pastry crumbs with a metal spoon. Refrigerate for 1 hour.
Roll out on a lightly floured surface and transfer to a greased 20cm loose bottomed pie or cake tin. The pastry is unlikely to behave itself but any holes, cracks or gaps can just be repaired with an extra scrap of pastry. Prick the pastry all over on the base of the tin and freeze for at least 30 minutes.
Blind bake the pastry for 10 minutes at 190C, then lift out the paper and beans and bake for another 20 minutes at 160C (until golden brown all over). Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the tin.
For the custard
- 9 egg yolks
- 200g caster sugar
- 400ml cream
- 200ml milk
- 1tsp vanilla essence or the seeds from half a vanilla pod
Whisk all ingredients together and heat in a double boiler until the mixture reaches 70C. Set oven to 100C. Pour custard into the tart shell and bake until just set (with a little bit of a wobble) – about 40 minutes (the low oven temperature gives you a wider window to get the tart perfect). Remove from the oven and allow to cool before transferring to the fridge.
For the rhubarb
- 300g rhubarb
- 2 blood oranges
- about 75g sugar (to taste)
- Optional: 25ml grenadine or fresh pomegranate juice for colour
Cut the rhubarb into 2cm pieces. Peel the blood oranges and supreme the segments by cutting the fruit segments out of the membrane with a very sharp knife. Sprinkle with sugar and pomegranate juice/grenadine if using. Over a low heat, stew the rhubarb briefly until just tender but still retaining its shape. Transfer to the fridge and leave to cool. (This can be done 2-3 days ahead.)
Sprinkle a pinch of brown sugar over the custard and brûlée lightly with a blowtorch (optional), then pile the poached rhubarb on top of the tart and serve.