Monday, April 4, 2011

Rhubarb and Blood Orange Custard Meringue


Its that time of the year again .... when the market stalls are bursting with rhubarb and I simply cannot go home without some.  The reds, the greens, the sharp tang, the texture - I find it irresistible.   This afternoon I roasted it with the zest of blood oranges.  These are the Sicillian Tarocco oranges, slightly sweeter than the Moro or Sanguinello varieties and only half-blooded in colour.  While typing the recipe up it did occur to me that it has many parts and sounds laborious - the base, the rhubarb, the custard, the meringue ... it really is worth the effort, I promise.


I baked a sweet pastry base using 200g plain flour (Doves) and 100g chilled butter cubes, a teaspoon of icing sugar and one egg beaten.
  • Rub together the flour, icing sugar and butter until you have the consistency of coarse breadcrumbs. 
  • Add half of the egg and mix together with a fork until it has started coming together.  If necessary add the remainder of the egg, mixing now with your hands until the pastry comes together into a ball.
  • Wrap the pastry in cling film and leave it to rest in the fridge for 30 minutes.
Meanwhile make the blood orange custard.
  • Using the juice of 2 blood oranges, bring three quarters of it to a simmer.  Add 2 tsps of cornflour to the remaining quarter and mix thoroughly until all the lumps have dissolved.
  • Add some of the hot orange juice to the cornflour in the cup and mix well.
  • Then pour the cornflour and juice mix into the hot orange juice, and stirring continuously bring to the boil.  You should have a thickish sauce.
  • Add three egg yolks and beat consistently keeping the liquid just at boiling point.  At this stage the sauce will thicken quite a bit more.  Set aside.
Roasting the rhubarb.
  • Wash and trim the rhubarb and cut it into finger size pieces and lay it flat into an oven proof dish.
  • Sprinkle with the zest of the blood oranges and 50g of unrefined caster sugar.
  • Bake at 160 degrees for 35 minutes until tender but the pieces remain intact.
  • With a slotted spoon, remove the rhubarb, trying not to break it up, into a separate dish.
  • Take the remaining juices, whisk in the rhubarb juices to the blood orange custard, heating it a little to make the sauce more fluid.   Set aside.
Remove the pastry from the fridge and line a 23cm pie tin with a removable base.  Bake it blind for 15 minutes at 180C.  Take it out and brush the base of the crust with egg yolk.  Place it back in the oven to seal for 5 minutes.

Now assemble the pie.
  • Spoon in the rhubarb using a slotted spoon and try to drain each spoonful so that the filling is not too wet.  Pour over the custard.
  • Make the meringue - Beat 4 stiffened egg whites until stiff and gradually add 8oz fine caster sugar until the mixture is stiff and glossy.
  • Spoon the egg over the rhubarb and custard making sure that all gaps are sealed so that no filling can bubble out.
  • Bake in the oven at 180C for 35 minutes until the egg is golden on top.

Apologies for the poor end product photos ... the lip smacking had started around the table in earnest and each slice disappeared without trace in a very short space of time!


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