Rhubarb & Custard Pie

This pie recipe marries together classic dessert flavours - rhubarb and custard! The sweet pie is crowned with caramelised rhubarb and sharp orange zest strips.

Pieminister: A Pie for All Seasons
By &
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Introduction

Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, Noel Edmonds and Mr Blobby … rhubarb and custard is yet another long and happy marriage that has stood the test of time. You may now kiss your pie!

Serves 8-10

Ingredients

1 quantity of sweet pastry (see ingredients and method below)
8 slim sticks of rhubarb, cut into 3cm lengths
1 orange
150g caster sugar
For the custard:
1 vanilla pod
450ml whipping cream
150ml milk
65g caster sugar
12 egg yolks
1 tbsp cornflour
For the sweet pastry:
250g softened unsalted butter
125g icing sugar, sifted
1 tbsp whipping cream
1 free-range egg yolk
350g plain flour, sifted

Essential kit

You will need an electric mixer and a 23cm springform baking tin.

Instructions

First make the pastry. Using an electric mixer, if you have one, cream the butter until light and fluffy. Beat in the icing sugar, then mix in the cream and egg yolk. Finally, mix in the flour on a low speed until just combined. Turn out on to a floured surface and knead lightly for a few seconds until smooth. Shape into a disc, wrap in clingfilm and chill for at least 4 hours.

Once chilled, roll out the pastry a little thicker than usual, about 6mm thick, and use to line a 23cm springform baking tin, taking it up the sides. Be very careful that there are no cracks or gaps - if necessary, patch with extra pieces of pastry. Trim off any excess and chill for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 160°C/320°F/gas mark 3. Line the pastry with baking parchment, fill with about 1kg of baking beans or rice and bake blind for about 30 minutes, until dry and lightly coloured. Remove from the oven, take out the paper and beans and leave to cool.

Arrange the rhubarb in a baking tin in a single layer. Using a vegetable peeler, peel the zest off the orange and add it to the rhubarb, then squeeze in the juice and scatter over the sugar. Cover with foil and bake at 160°C/320°F/gas mark 3 for about 15 minutes, until just tender. Remove from the oven, drain off the juices very thoroughly and reserve them.

Now make the custard. Slit the vanilla pod open lengthwise and scrape out the seeds. Put the seeds and pod into a pan, add the cream and milk and bring slowly just to the boil. Meanwhile, whisk the sugar and egg yolks together. Pour the hot cream mixture slowly on to the egg yolks, mixing constantly. Blend the cornflour to a paste with a very little water and stir in. Leave the custard to cool slightly.

Arrange about a third of the rhubarb in the pastry case. Pour in the custard and bake at 160°C/320°F/gas mark 3 for 20 minutes. Scatter half the remaining rhubarb over the top (adding it now prevents it sinking to the bottom). Continue to cook for 15-20 minutes, covering the pie with foil if the pastry browns too much. It is done when the custard is just set but still has a tiny wobble in the centre. Remove and leave to cool. Boil down the rhubarb cooking juices until syrupy and serve the pie decorated with the remaining rhubarb and orange zest strips, drizzling the juices over each portion. Serve on its own - three’s a crowd!

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