An Easy Rhubarb Tart

Rhubarb tart on table next to flowers

When I visited Amber last week, not only did she dig up half her garden to share, she also sent me home with a bundle of freshly-picked rhubarb. Ordinarily I would make a crumble, oaty and sweet, eaten in spades with a dollop of ice cream on the side.

But I had a hankering for one of those delicious custardy tarts, that every French village bakery sells. The kind that makes me wish I was French. Turns out neither custard nor pastry is quite as straightforward as the usual chocolate chip cookies I churn out when I have a sweet-tooth.

Cakes and puddings should rarely take longer to make than they do to eat. So, I hacked together a quick and easy tart to follow my rule, and spent the time saved sipping coffee and having a natter with my mum. In case I’m not alone in the lazy-baker status I’ve jotted the recipe down below:

Ingredients for an easy rhubarb tart

Prep pastry: Grab a ready-made roll of shortcrust pastry from the chiller at the supermarket. Lay it into a round dish, smoosh into the edges, and trim the surplus at the top (but leave a bit of wiggle room as the pastry may shrink a bit as it bakes. Prick the base with a fork and pop it in the fridge.

Bake rhubarb: chop in to chunks and put in an oven dish. Mix in ~80g brown sugar and a splash of vanilla extract. Cover in foil and bake in a medium oven for around 15mins. Then, drain and put aside the baked rhubarb.

Blind bake pastry: cover the base in baking parchment and baking beans for ~15mins. Then, remove parchment and beans and bake for a further 5mins. Once baked, wash the bottom with egg white.

Make custard: whisk ~80 caster sugar, 1 tablespoon cornflour, 2 eggs, one small pot (~300ml) of creme fraiche.

Assemble your pie: add the rhubarb first, then pour custard over the top.

Bake for 25mins. Enjoy with a cup of coffee and a gossip.

Rusty in her kitchen

A Good Bake

Chococo book next to flowers

Some cookbooks look so promising: gold covers, artsy fonts, and quirky ingredients. But then when it comes to the recipes they just don’t quite do it. They’re either too fussy, too complicated or quite simply don’t work. The pretty gold cover gathers dust and glares at you from the kitchen shelf.

Other cookbooks magically swing in to heavy rotation the moment they arrive; filled with recipes you can rely on, photos that are always tempting, and instructions that are genuinely helpful. Chococo is just such a book. It had its first outing for Alec’s birthday cake and has rarely been off the kitchen counter since.

Cookbook open next to flowers

Chococo is close to my heart since the days we started visiting their tiny sunny cafe in Swanage. I love supporting small local businesses, and it’s been fun to see how this one has thrived.

In this month of no easy sugar I’ve been baking a lot more. So far we’ve had the a double batch of chocolate cookies, the gooiest brownies and chocolate fruity flapjacks, all from this one recipe book.

And if you’re thinking this is rather a lot of chocolate for one month I will point out to you that I have had exactly no M&Ms this month, and also had banana cake and apple crumble. I know- positively healthy right?

Belated Blueberries

Bowl of blueberries on a kitchen counter

Pancake Day waited until Sunday this year. We made up for the delay with a double helping of blueberry pancakes, with the obligatory maple syrup, crispy bacon, and strong coffee. As a kid I often used to give up chocolate for this early spring gap between pancake-flipping and egg-hunting.

This weekend of sunshine has filled me with optimistic resolutions and a desire to be lounging amongst daffodils eating homemade victoria sponge , rather than haring down the motorway and stuffing a twix bar in my mouth.

So I’m swearing off sugar.  Not the kind found in delicious homemade cake (because one should never quit something so decidedly good for the soul) just the crappy convenient stuff. So, with the krispy kremes and jaffa cakes cut out of my day I expect I’ll be baking a lot more this month.  I’m already on my second batch of cookies in the last 24hrs..

Cookies and teapot

Books, Bikes, and Bread

Dawes bike against a fence at Newtown Creek, Isle of Wight

There are so many good things that begin with the letter B: bacon sandwiches, beach walks and bumble bees, to name a few.  Tom and I spent far too much time adding to this list, but there really are a lot of good B words!  No matter the length of the list, the top three remain the same: books, bikes, and bread.  What could be better than working up an appetite with a whizz around on your bike, followed by a slice of hot buttered toast and a good read?

Book shelves and book stacks photo collage

We filled our weekend with all three, riding out to a photography exhibition at Dimbola Lodge, finishing off some recent reads, and baking a buttery banana bread.  There are no photos of the banana bread.. it seemed far more important to simply dive in and eat it.

Do you have any B words to add to the list, or suggestions of another letter I have seriously overlooked?

Afternoon Tea

Baking books stacked up

These autumn days pull me back to baking after hot summer days of beer and barbecues.  Tom and I pulled forces to bake an afternoon tea for my brother who stopped by.  Homemade bread, red velvet cupcakes, and ginger tiffin cake, all delicious if I do say so!  Just the right start to getting our baking mojo back.  Tom’s bread gets tastier every week, and I’ve got a growing list of things to bake next: apple crumble bars, cranberry flapjacks, white chocolate brownies, and a proper Victoria sponge (can you believe, I’ve never made one!)  Grey days are delicious when they bring you back to simple pleasures.

Dough recipe book, tiered cake plate and tea photo collage

Alec and Bryony laughing at the table