06 May 2007
The great thing about the proliferation of food websites and blogs is the ease of sharing ideas and recipes, so many beautiful things to make! These days, I'm just as likely to open up a website rather than the cookbooks that line my shelves when I have a culinary query, and the folded corners of favorite recipes are being challenged by the bookmark tab on my internet browser. Though nothing will supplant the tomes I treasure, I love the immediacy of blogs, and the intimate view into indivual kitchens. With great sites from all corners of the globe, I've learned about exotic fruits, unusual pestos, and French home baking, straight from the source. Reading some of the great sites out of Australia, I'm often reminded how our seasons are flipped, as I huddled at the screen in my cold apartment they wrote about barbeques and ice cream. When I saw this rhubarb tart back in September, I knew I wanted to make it, but it would be six months before rhubarb would be in season!
However, the rhubarb tart (the original version much more visually stunning than mine), stuck in my head, so much so that I even picked up the proper pan for it at an after-Christmas sale. In March, I trawled markets in hopes of early rhubarb, but it was still woefully cold and dreary. Finally, rhubarb has arrived and I got right to the tart. Another thing I've learned from reading blogs is to be comfortable in the metric system, converting grams, ounces, and cups. This tart was worth the wait, and the effort, as it was really delicious. My only regret was that it didn't have more rhubarb- I'll place the stalks more closely together next time. It's not too sweet, so I didn't feel too guilty nibbling on a piece for breakfast one morning. Thanks to Haalo for the recipe, and with apologies to those in the southern hemisphere, expect more rhubarb to be featured here soon!
With a buttery crunchy crust, a creamy filling, and tangy rhubarb topping, this tart's a winner any time of day.
for the pastry:
1 1/2 cups flour
3/4 cup powdered sugar
1 stick (1/4 lb) butter
for the cornmeal cream:
1 1/2 cups milk
1 tsp cinnamon
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup white cornmeal or semolina
2 egg yolks (or 1 egg)
for the rhubarb:
1/2 cup sugar plus 2 tablspoons
1. For the pastry crust: Combine the flour and powdered sugar in a large bowl. Cut the butter into small pieces and add to the bowl, crumble the mixture together with your fingertips until it resembles coarse meal. Stir in the egg until the mixture just comes together (you could also make the dough in a food processor). Turn the dough out and knead just to make a ball. Flatten it into an ovular disk, wrap it in plastic wrap and chill briefly, half an hour to an hour. Roll the dough out and fit it into a rectangular tart pan (or a round 8" pan). Cover and place in the fridge or freezer to chill thoroughly.
2. For the cornmeal cream: Combine the milk, cinnamon, sugar, and cornmeal in a saucepan and bring to a boil, whisking constantly to prevent lumps. Lower the heat and simmer the mixture, stirring, for 3-4 minutes, until thickened and no longer gritty. Remove the saucepan from the heat and let cool slightly. Stir in the egg yolks until well combined. Press a piece of plastic wrap directly onto the surface of the mixture and set aside or refrigerate until ready to use.
3. Blind bake the tart shell: Preheat the oven to 350. Place baking paper and pastry weights inside the chilled tart shell. Bake the pastry for 15 minutes, then remove the weights and paper and bake another 5-10 minutes, until the pastry is dry and just golden on the edges. Remove and allow to cool slightly.
4. Bake the tart: Spread the cornmeal cream inside the blind-baked tart shell. Slice the rhubarb and layer it over the cornmeal cream, placing the pieces close together. Sprinkle the 1/2 cup sugar over the rhubarb. Cover the tart with foil and bake in a 350 degree oven for 20 minutes, then remove the foil and bake another 15-20 minutes, until the rhubarb is tender. Sprinkle the remaining 2 tablesppons of sugar over the tart and, using the broiler or a blowtorch, briefly caramelize the sugar. Serve warm or at room temperature.