Rhubarb and Custard Meringue Tart
300g (10oz) sweet shortcrust pastry, chilled made from:
200g (7oz) white flour
100g (3 1/2oz) butter
pinch of salt
1 egg yolk (keep white aside for meringue)
2-3 tablespoons cold water approx.
1 kg (2 1/4lb) red rhubarb, cut into 3cm (1 1/4 inch) lengths
3 egg yolks
120g (scant 4 1/2oz) sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons plain flour
3 egg whites
175g (6oz) caster sugar
1 x 26cm (10 1/2 inch) tin, preferably with a pop-up base
Preheat the oven to 200ºC/400°F/Gas Mark 6.
First make the pastry.
Sieve the flour with the salt, cut the butter into cubes and rub into the flour with the fingertips. Keep everything as cool as possible; if the fat is allowed to melt the finished pastry may be tough. When the mixture looks like coarse breadcrumbs, stop.
Whisk the egg yolk and add the water. Take a fork or knife, (whichever you feel most comfortable with) and add just enough liquid to bring the pastry together, then discard the fork and collect it into a ball with your hands, this way you can judge more
accurately if you need a few more drops of liquid.Although rather damp pastry is easier to handle and roll out, the resulting crust can be tough and may well shrink out of shape as the water evaporates in the oven. The drier and more difficult-to-handle pastry will give a crisper shorter crust.
Cover with cling film and chill for half an hour if possible, this will make it less elastic and easier to roll out. Roll out the pastry and line the tin. Line with greaseproof paper and fill with baking beans. Bake ‘blind’ for 20 minutes approx. until the pastry is three-quarters cooked, remove from the oven. Remove the baking beans, brush the base with beaten egg wash and place back in the oven for another 5 minutes.
Slice the rhubarb and spread over the pastry base.
Whisk together the egg yolks, sugar, vanilla extract and flour and spread over the rhubarb. Bake in a preheated oven for 10 minutes, this will start the rhubarb cooking.
Meanwhile, whisk the egg whites until fluffy. As they stiffen,trickle in the caster sugar and continue to whisk until stiff.
Remove the tart from the oven and pipe or spread the meringue on top.
Reduce the heat to 180ºC/350°F/Gas Mark 4, return to the oven. Bake for a further 25 minutes.
Cool on a wire rack and serve with softly whipped cream.