It’s practically a requirement to do something with rhubarb this time of year. When I lived in Washington, DC I harvested rhubarb from mid spring until late summer, but early spring ‘means’ rhubarb, so let’s make this delicious rhubarb-vanilla tart now! By coincidence, both our husbands were having their birthdays last weekend, so this is another good reason to bake this tart, post it, and eat it until the very last crumb! And yes, this is my husband helping me out in the kitchen with his own birthday pie. He ate half of it!
The crust is just as important as the filling, so I always make my own pie dough. This is my fool proof recipe for tarts like this one: it’s flaky, not too sweet, and easy to prepare. For a flaky crust it’s important to use cold butter and to work the dough as little as possible. I use a food processor, but of course you can also make it by hand. Since this tart has a wet custard filling I prebake the crust. Blind baking the crust helps the crust stay firm. It’s tempting to skip this extra step, but if you do so, you might end up with a soggy not fully baked crust. And that’s not what you want, do you?
Action Time: 25 minutes + 60 minutes oven time, 30 minutes resting and cooling
For the tart shell:
9 oz/250 g all-purpose or fine spelt flour
1 tbsp fine sugar
4.5 oz/125 g cold unsalted butter, diced
1 egg yolk
For the filling:
1 vanilla bean
9 oz/250 g crème fraîche
1 lb + 2 oz/500 g rhubarb, trimmed and cut into 1 inch/2-3 cm pieces
6 oz/175 g fine sugar, plus extra
Extra: food processor, cling film, greased 9 inch/24 cm tart pan, parchment paper, pie weights or dried beans
1. For the tart shell, put flour, sugar, butter, and a pinch of salt in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse a few times until the mixture resembles coarse cornmeal. Add the egg yolk and 1-2 tbsp cold water and pulse a few times until the dough resembles bread crumbs. The dough is ready when it holds together while squeezing it with your hands. If it falls apart, add some extra water. Transfer the dough to a working surface or bowl and gather it into a thick ‘sausage’, wrap in cling film and refrigerate for about 30 minutes.
2. Preheat the oven to 350F/175C. Cut the dough sausage into 1/8 inch (3-4 mm) thick slices. Place the slices in and around the bottom and sides of the tart pan; push and press them together with your fingers until the whole pan is covered. Pierce the dough with a fork. Line the dough with parchment paper and fill with the pie weights or dried beans. Bake for 15 minutes in the oven, remove parchment paper en pie weights and bake for 5 minutes more or until the crust is dry. Remove from the oven.
3. Split the vanilla bean down its length and scrape out the seeds with a knife. In a bowl, beat the crème fraîche with the vanilla. Add the eggs and about half of the sugar and mix well. In another bowl, mix the rhubarb with the rest of the sugar.
4. Arrange the rhubarb in the pre-baked tart shell and pour over the crème fraîche mixture. Bake in the oven for 45-50 minutes, until the filling is set and lightly browned. Let cool completely and dust with some extra sugar.