Rhubarb, lime + ginger tart

Like many freelancing parents, I’ve had to put my work on the back burner since January to concentrate on home-schooling my children during lockdown. We’ve managed to incorporate lots of cookery into our curriculum and I’ve loved sharing lunch everyday like it’s the weekend. What I’ve missed, is having some quality alone-time in the kitchen, the freedom to take my time over a project, uninterrupted by over-enthusiastic sous chefs.

So this recipe is my treat. Cutting and arranging the rhubarb is almost meditative when you’re alone and not pushed for time, but would be frustratingly stressful if multi-tasking it with childcare.

I tried a couple of versions of this tart – it started out as a no-bake cheesecake, but the filling was a bit sloppy and I underestimated how much rhubarb I’d need to cover the top. The final version is more like a tarte au citron in the centre, but I’ve kept the buttery biscuit base (still funny!) as it’s so much quicker and easier than pastry.

The poached rhubarb is a joy in itself. I scented the poaching syrup with makrut lime leaves and cardamom to compliment the lime juice and stem ginger in the filling. Any leftovers are great with yoghurt and granola for breakfast, or spooned over vanilla ice cream for dessert. Strain the syrup into a sterilised bottle and you have the most ambrosial cordial to enjoy over ice with sparkling water; lengthened with prosecco as a sort of rhubarb Bellini; or in the place of simple syrup in a whole range of cocktails.

Rhubarb, lime + ginger tart

Serves 8

  • 125 g gingernut biscuits
  • 75 g cornflakes
  • 100 g butter
  • 2 tbsp golden syrup
  • 1 x 400 g can condensed milk
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 4 limes, juiced and zest finely grated
  • 2 pieces stem ginger in syrup, finely chopped
  • 300 g caster sugar
  • 3 makrut lime leaves
  • 5 cardamom pods, bruised
  • 600 g forced rhubarb
  1. Preheat the oven to 200°C (180 fan) | 400°F | gas 6. Crush the biscuits and cornflakes to fine crumbs, either in a food processor or the old-fashioned way, by bashing them in a plastic bag with a rolling pin. Melt the butter and golden syrup together in a medium saucepan, then stir in the biscuit crumbs.
  2. Press the buttery crumbs into the base and sides of a 23 cm (9 inch) round loose-bottomed tart case and sit it on a baking tray. Bake for 6 minutes. Take out the tart case and reduce the oven temperature to 170°C (150 fan) | 325°F | gas 3.
  3. To make the filling, whisk the condensed milk with the egg yolks until there are no more yellow streaks, then whisk in the lime juice and stem ginger. When it’s smoothly combined and starting to thicken, scrape the mixture into the tart case and level the top with a spatula.
  4. Bake for 15 minutes or until the filling has set with a slight wobble in the centre. Leave to cool, then chill in the fridge.
  5. Meanwhile, put the caster sugar, lime leaves and cardamom pods in a wide saute pan with 300 ml water. Stir over a medium heat until the sugar dissolves, then bring to a simmer.
  6. Cut the rhubarb into short sections on the diagonal, using the first piece as a guide to make sure they’re all the same length. Increase the heat under the syrup so that it properly boils, then add the rhubarb. Stir once, then turn off the heat and leave it to go cold – it should cook perfectly in the residual heat.
  7. Carefully drain the rhubarb, reserving the poaching syrup to use as a cordial or for cooking your next batch of rhubarb. Arrange the rhubarb on top of the tart in the geometric pattern of your choice (or in a wild tangle if the children are at home!).

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