Monday, 10 September 2012

Rhubarb and Custard Tarts

Today was a lesson in how to not transport cakes.  After lovingly baking a batch of tarts, I stupidly put the tin into a carrier bag and forgot to check that the tin was flat when I picked the bag up.  Consequently, when I realised my mistake, the tin was already full of sloppy rhubarb curd.

Let me take you back a few steps.  One of my colleagues is a massive fan of my rhubarb and custard cupcakes.  I came up with the recipe long before the Hummingbird Bakery published the recipe in 'Cake Days'.  I'm sure it features in many other books as it's such a classic combination.  I fill mine with a spiced rhubarb centre and then top with custard buttercream.  P is intrigued as to how I achieve the hidden middle.  He's quite intelligent but he really can't work out how I do it.  At first I thought he was joking when he asked, but he's asked so many times now that I know he's truly curious.

P is also a huge fan of custard tarts.  Whenever he brings in cakes to work, he'll always ensure that 50% of the batch are custard tarts.  I had never eaten one until recently as I really didn't think I would like the cold custard thing but I was pleasently surprised.

So when I happened across this recipe, I knew I had to make them for him.  I made the curd last week when another friend gave me a batch of rhubarb.  If I'm honest, I was a little disappointed as the curd took away a lot of the sharp tang of the rhubarb which I love.  It was also a bit 'eggier' than some of the citrus curds I've made in the past - this may have been my mistake in cooking it.  If (or when) I do this again, I'd probably make a rhubarb jam instead.

The rest of the pie is based on a Dan Lepard recipe.  I used up the rest of the beautiful pastry I made for the Botswanan Chicken Pie I made for the Olympic Food Challenge and the custard is also a Dan recipe.  I loved the idea of putting a cupcake case into the pastry cases to hold the beans for blind baking.  And I was happy that the pastry came out of the tin far easier than when I made Thomasina Miers' mince pies at Christmas.  I have to experiment now as I'm not sure if it was the blind baking that made them come out more easily or if the pastry I made at Christmas was a bit rubbish.

Anyhow, when it came to baking the custard part, the blogger (Ms North) recommended filling them half full with custard to leave room for the topping.  I found that on baking the custard had decreased in volume somewhat - whether it was because it settled or dried out a little I'm not sure.  I'd definitely recommend going for two-thirds custard to one third rhubarb.  Plus it means you won't have so much spare custard to force yourself to eat!

The overall flavour was good with the orange complimenting the rhubarb nicely, but as I said it was just a tad too sweet for me with the custard and the curd.  But that's just personal preference.  The pastry was lovely and crisp on the one that I'd saved to test and photograph - it was also the worst looking pie before the disaster.

I would also recommend making them and serving them straight away.  After being in a tin all day, the pastry had gone soggy - I'm guessing from the dampness from the curd.

You can find the original recipe here.

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