This year I swore I’d make great things happen in our small garden but I trudged into the Summer with the usual small assembly of plants that have survived my crappy gardening skills, and the kids best attempts at vegicide (or whatever the murder of your mother’s plants is called). But rhubarb is nothing is not a hardy old bugger of a plant, so this year my usual crop has appeared. I’m ashamed to admit that in previous years I’ve picked it with gusto and then let it wilt and rot in the fridge before officially declaring it to be compostable.
This year I went in search of a tasty new recipe and here it is – Rhubarb Bars made with rhubarb curd on shortbread. They have a really delicate flavour and taste way posher than they are!
Makes about 18 fingers, depending on how greedy you’re feeling.
Prepare 33x23cm baking tray, lined with greaseproof paper.
Rhubarb Curd: 400g rhubarb washed, trimmed and cut into 2cm lengths, *
140g caster sugar,
few drops of lemon essence,
4 large eggs,
* I used fresh and also frozen rhubarb and had great results with each. The only difference I found was that the curd made with the fresh rhubarb was pinker in colour as in the photo below whereas the frozen fruit have a more pinky-brown colour (see photo above). There was no massive difference in taste.
Shortbread Base: 290g plain flour,
70g caster sugar,
a pinch of salt,
2 tsp grated lemon zest or 1 tsp lemon essence
First to puree the rhubarb…
1. Place the rhubarb in a heavy bottomed saucepan, add about quarter of a cup of cold water, and about 50g of the caster sugar. Boil gently until the pieces have gone soft. Taste and add a touch more sugar if needed. Set aside to cool.
To make the curd…
2. Melt the butter in a pyrex dish set over a saucepan that is quarter filled with water, at a low heat,and while stirring frequently.
3. Add the remaining sugar, butter, lemon essence and well-beaten eggs and stir carefully over a very gentle heat until the mixture thickens and coats the back of a spoon. Don’t be afraid to take it off and check if you’re wondering if it’s ready as its easy to put back on the heat, but impossible to unscramble!
4. Remove from the heat and pour into a bowl or sterilised jar. It will thicken as it cools. After it has cooled sightly place a disc of greaseproof paper or a layer of cling film over the curd so a skin doesn’t form.
To make the shortbread base…
5. Preheat the over to 170C, 325F or Gas mark 3.
6. Put the flour, sugar, salt, butter and lemon zest / essence into a mixer and whizz together using a paddle attachment, until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.
7. Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and press together evenly to fill the tin.
8. Bake for about 20 minutes or until a light golden colour – making sure not to overcook.
9. Remove from the oven.
10. Add the rhubarb to the curd and spread the lovely pink Rhubarb Curd evenly across the shortbread base. Smooth with a spatula and return to the oven for 20 minutes to bake to set (but again not to colour).
10. Remove and allow to cool, before covering and placing in the fridge for a few hours or overnight.