First Richard Briers died. Then Bob Godfrey died. Those of you of a certain age will no doubt remember Roobarb and Custard. Richard Briers narrated it and Bob Godfrey was one of the animators. It was one of the many superb five minute programmes which used to end the children's programming on BBC1 each weekday before the boring news came on forty odd years ago. The theme tune will stay with me forever.
Richard Briers was best known for his role as Tom Good in The Good Life. No doubt Tom and Barbara grew plenty of rhubarb in their Surbiton garden.
Now is the season for that English speciality, forced rhubarb. Two hundred years ago a gardener discovered that the rhubarb he had accidentally covered with soil had started to sprout bright pink stalks unseasonably early. This rhubarb was not only pinker but sweeter and less sharp than the later darker rhubarb.
Ninety percent of the world's forced rhubarb is grown in the rhubarb triangle, an area of Yorkshire between Wakefield, Morley and Rothwell. It is grown in sheds and picked by candlelight. You can actually hear it growing. At the height of its popularity there was a special train called the Pink Express or the Rhubarb Special which took the crop from Yorkshire to London each night during the season.
Usually I make a crumble with rhubarb but today I thought I'd get creative and come up with something different. Inspired by Bakewell tart I thought I'd have a go at a rhubarby version.
I apologise for the mixture of imperial and metric weights. I make pastry in imperial, it makes more sense to me.
First I made some shortcrust pastry by throwing 8oz of plain flour and 4oz cubed cold butter into the food processor. I processed it for a few seconds until it formed crumbs. Then I poured in 3-4 tablespoons of cold water and processed until it formed a ball of dough. It is just as easy to make by hand but it is quicker using machinery.
I rolled the pastry out straight away and used it to line a 9 inch (23 cm) tart tin. Then I put it in the fridge for about 20 minutes before baking it blind for 15 minutes at 200°c (180°c fan oven). After removing the foil and baking beans I put the part-cooked pastry back in the oven for another 5 minutes. Then I let it cool.
I mixed 250g of chopped rhubarb with a jar of strawberry jam. I used homemade jam and I think it was about 1lb. I spread this mixture in the tart case.
Next I made the almond layer. I beat together 2 eggs, 200g ground almonds, 150g caster sugar and 100g of soft butter. This is just a double quantity of the almond filling for galette des rois. I spread it carefully over the rhubarb and jam and then sprinkled flaked almonds over.
I baked it for 40 minutes at 180°c (160°c fan oven) until golden.
I put it on a baking tray before putting in the oven because I was a little afraid I'd overdone the jam and that I'd have jam escaping all over the oven. I needn't have worried but it is a wise precaution.
I was very pleased with my Rhubarb and Almond Tart, but it was a little on the runny side. Next time I think I will use less jam and more rhubarb and maybe give it another ten minutes in the oven.
If you want to make this gluten-free then I am sure that if you put the rhubarb and jam filling in a shallow baking dish and top with the almond mixture you will have a lovely pudding. It might be good in individual ramekins too but I would reduce the cooking time.