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Rhubarb and Almond tart with Rhubarb and Gin Sauce

The end of winter is marked for me by the appearance of two fruits – rhubarb and blood oranges. Recently, winter seems not to have taken the hint and has been hanging around beyond the forced rhubarb season. This tart however, is delicious whatever the weather. And yes, I know that rhubarb is botanically not a fruit, but I would hope you agree that in the kitchen, it tends to be used as if it were. When the first forced rhubarb appears, delicate and elusively fragrant, I like to do as little as possible to it. I poach it gently with the juice of a blood orange and a tablespoon of honey. It is my absolutely favourite breakfast with a good yogurt, the zest of the orange and walnuts. And in a Moka full of Illy coffee and I can face whatever the day decides to lob at me.

Once the forced rhubarb is over and we have the sturdy maincrop stalks, I do like to experiment rather more. Although I have to say that for me, baked mackerel with rhubarb sauce was an experiment too far. More perhaps, I have to say, because I really can’t cope with mackerel and should not have tried (yet again) to get past my dislike. In my defence, at least I do regularly revisit my few dislikes to see if I’ve changed my mind. Still hate sweetcorn, though, in any and all of its manifestations.

A much more successful experiment was when I pottered about with almonds, which I think complement so many fruits, and arrived at this tart. It is an absolute breeze to make and works warm or cold as a dessert and has been consumed here with yogurt for breakfast. No, I am not saying who did that…

Don’t feel you have to make the pastry yourself here; there are excellent ready made, all-butter pastries on the market and resist those people who think using ready made is the eighth sin. I do not, regrettably have my late mother’s gift as a pastry cook and if it weren’t for my Magimix, I would never willingly make pastry. For sweet dishes I now use exclusively the Italian method of Pasta Frotta and so far, it hasn’t let me down; however, feel free to use your favourite sweet pastry recipe here. Should pastry making not be your thing, and if you have access to the French brand “Marie” (available on Ocado) then use that without a second thought.


Print Recipe
Serves: 6 Cooking Time: 1.5 hours


  • Pastry
  • 250g plain flour or Italian Tipo 00
  • 125g unsalted butter, very cold from the fridge and cut into small cubes
  • 1 medium free range egg, lightly beaten
  • 100g icing sugar
  • finely grated zest of half an unwaxed lemon
  • tiny pinch of sea salt
  • Filling
  • 125g softened unsalted butter, plus extra to grease the tin
  • 125g golden caster sugar plus 2 tbsp
  • 1 medium free range egg
  • 125g ground almonds
  • 1 tsp ground ginger (optional)
  • 250g rhubarb, cut into 3cm chunks
  • Poached Rhubarb
  • 150g rhubarb, cut into 1cm chunks
  • 2 tbsp caster sugar (or more if you prefer)
  • 2 tbsp gin
  • A buttered 23cm loose bottom flan tin
  • Baking parchment
  • Baking beans



Set the oven to 170C fan


To make the pastry, place the flour and butter in a food processor and whizz until fine breadcrumb stage


Add the sugar, mix briefly and add the egg, salt and lemon zest


Whizz until a soft dough is achieved; tip out of the processor and form into a flattened ball, wrap in clingfilm and put in the fridge for at least 30 minutes


When time is up, roll out to fit the flan tin and press the dough gently into the tin


Prick the base with a fork, line with baking parchment then tip the baking beans on top


Put in the oven for 20 minutes, after which remove the paper and cook for another 5 minutes until the tart shell is crisp and golden


It’s really important to get the shell crisp as otherwise the moist almond mixture will result in the dreaded “soggy bottom”


While the shell is baking, prepare the almond filling


Beat the softened butter and golden caster sugar until light and fluffy, then beat in the egg


Fold in the ground almonds and ginger


When the shell is ready, spread the almond mixture and press the rhubarb pieces into the mixture in a cartwheel pattern, or whatever pleases you


Sprinkle over the 2 tbsp of sugar


Put the tart in the oven and bake for 35 - 40 minutes until the tart is golden and puffy


Now make the poached rhubarb:


Put the second lot of rhubarb in a saucepan with a good heat conducting base, add the sugar and the gin


Heat until bubbling and then simmer gently until the rhubarb disintegrates - this doesn’t take long so don’t wander off and start the ironing


Bubble more fiercely until reduced by about one third


Remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly


If you want the final dish to be more refined, you can at this point, press the mixture through a sieve; I was a bit up against the clock when I made the tart pictured so this sauce isn’t sieved


Serve slices with either ice cream or creme frâiche and then drizzle over the gin sauce


You can change this round a bit too, by putting orange zest in the pastry and orange juice in the sauce - or Grand Marnier, perhaps. The tart can be re-heated and also freezes well for up to about a month.


Desserts & Savouries/ Spring


Ricotta, rhubarb and blood orange ice cream

I am a big fan of ricotta cheese; it is endlessly versatile but it is very easy to be fobbed off with inferior products. Because it is made from the whey left from cheese making, industrial producers of cheese in this country have cottoned onto the fact that they can make yet another insipid tasteless product from what was previously waste. Blame the industrialisation of the dairy industry in this country which apart from producing tasteless milk, condemns thousands of cattle to unspeakable lives. I can feel a separate post coming on about that.

A good, Italian-style ricotta can be difficult to find in the UK and I’m afraid I have been nagging to source and supply a really good ricotta. it was therefore with huge pleasure that last week, I was able to order Ricotta which was a lovely cheese that I wanted to use for something that I perhaps wouldn’t otherwise have made. Fortuitously, I also had rhubarb and blood oranges, both of which I love. So, rather to my surprise, as I lack the gene for sweet foods (well, not completely but I’d rather have cheese than chocolate), I decided to make ice cream.

Now, before you are up in arms that the following recipe isn’t really ice cream because it’s not made with eggs and cream, yes, I know. But Larousse tells me that ice creams are “cold desserts made by freezing a flavoured mixture”. The use of milk, cream and eggs seems to have started around 1775, although it is said that in about 1650, the cook of Charles I of England had created the egg & cream recipe but the King had paid him to keep the recipe secret. So, I am unrepentant in calling this an ice cream (it does include cream, after all!). I also think that if I start to call it “frozen rhubarb dessert”, it sounds like something full of E numbers that is found at the bottom of a supermarket freezer on double discount because nobody fancies it. And who would, when they can have Rhubarb, Ricotta and Blood Orange Ice Cream!

On a slightly different topic, this recipe has been welcomed by a friend with a daughter who is severely allergic to eggs and who frequently misses out on the pleasure of ice cream.

Can I also mention here that I don’t own an ice cream maker and am not sure I want one (although I think Edoardo thinks he might get ice cream more often if I did). In truth, the end product could probably have been smoother if I had remembered to mash it up more frequently during the freezing process. I did set the alarm on my phone but only managed two mashes. Three might have made it smoother but the flavour is still delightful with just two mashes.


Print Recipe
Serves: 4 - 6 Cooking Time: 30 mins plus freezing time


  • 250g ricotta, strained (sieve it if it pleases you)
  • 400g rhubarb, rinsed and cut into 2cm pieces
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 4 blood oranges, juiced squeezed (I didn’t bother straining it but you could if you wanted to)
  • zest of one of the above oranges
  • 75ml runny honey (I used acacia but use what you have)
  • 240ml double cream (I used Jersey cream for extra lusciousness)



Put the rhubarb, sugar, orange juice and zest in a pan and simmer until the rhubarb has collapsed into a puree


Set aside to cool


Beat together the ricotta and honey until very smooth then add the cream


Continue beating until all the ingredients are smooth then add the rhubarb mixture


Mix well until you have an even distribution of rhubarb then pour into a plastic container and freeze for about two hours


After that time, mash up the mixture to reduce the size of the ice crystals and return to the freezer


Repeat that process two or three times more for a smooth, silky ice cream


At the last “mash” you could add chopped pistachios or walnuts to add a bit of texture


I served this with Nyakers Pepperkankor Swedish ginger biscuits and in fact, now that blood oranges are over, I might make ricotta, rhubarb and ginger ice cream…