This recipe isn't for the faint-hearted, or for those wanting something sweet in a hurry. It is by no means complicated, and it is so simple to make this tart look beautiful. But the constant chilling-cooking-cooling is incredibly time consuming, and you'll easily spend the better portion of your day on this baby. But honestly, it was absolutely worth every minute of my time. Rhubarb, raspberry and meringue. Can you honestly be surprised?
It's quite funny how these days, everyone is a food critic. Much the same as wine, the more people are exposed to different varieties and learn what they like, the more they feel comfortable in saying what's no good, or that something is unbalanced, or lacks acidity, or needs more sweetness. And whilst I laugh, I actually think it's a good thing! Why eat food that's simply ordinary? Why not explore other options and expose yourself to something new? Gosh, if I didn't have the varities of food that I currently do in my life, I would be a very different (and likely bitter) person. And if people weren't having such an increasing interest in food and trying more non-conventional recipes, regardless of their potentially snooty opinions as a result, we would have a much harder time finding the range of ingredients we do in a standard supermarket these days.
So, forgive me for sounding pretentious when I say this, but this tart has everything a dessert should. The very little amount of citrus rind the filling has is just the right amount to cut through what may have otherwise been a very sweet dessert. It's not sickly, at all. The almonds in the base add the perfect amount of crunch. And oh, that pillowy meringue… I was tempted to toast it, but it was simply too fluffy and white and pristine to touch.
Recipe from March 2011 issue of AGT
For the pastry:
180 gms butter, softenend
40 gms pure icing sugar, sieved
2 egg yolks
250 gms plain flour
For the frangipane:
75 gms butterm, softenend
80 gms caster sugar
70 gms almond meal
1 tbsp brandy
50 gms blanched almonds, finely chopped
For the filling:
1½ bunches rhubarb (about 6 stems), trimmed, sliced into 4cm pieces
250 gms raspberries
150 gms caster sugar
Finely grated rind and juice of 1 lemon
For the Italian meringue:
175 gm caster sugar
pinch of cream of tartar
For the pastry, beat butter in an electric mixer until pale, and then add icing sugar and beat until combined. With the motor running, add yolks one at a time, followed by 1 tbsp chilled water. Sieve flour over and stir to just combine. Lightly knead on a work surface then wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate until chilled, approximately 1 hour.
For frangipane, beat butter and sugar in an electric mixer until pale. Add almond meal, brandy and eggs and stir to combine, then stir through chopped almonds. Refrigerate until chilled, approximately 1 hour.
Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured surface to a 30cm round. Line a buttered and floured 22cm diameter, 5cm-deep cake tin with a removeable base. Trim the edges, prick base with a fork and refrigerate to rest for another hour.
Meanwhile, for baked rhubarb and raspberries, preheat oven to 175C. Place rhubarb in a baking dish large enough to fit snugly, scatter over raspberries, sugar, lemon rind and juice. Cover with foil and bake, turning rhubarb once, until tender, above 15 minutes. You want the rhubarb to still hold it's shape! Set aside to cool.
Drain syrup from the rhubarb mixture and and place in a small saucepan over high heat, reducing it to about 125 mls. This should take about 5-10 minutes. Set aside to cool. Return 50 mls to the rhubarb mixture, and set aside the remainder to use when serving.
Line the tart case with baking paper and pastry weights, or uncooked rice or beans. Blind bake the tart case until light golden, approximately 15 minutes. Remove paper and weights and bake until golden, about another 5-10 minutes. Spoon the frangipane into tart case and bake until frangipane is golden and set, about 10 minutes. Set aside to cool until just firm, then remove tart from tin and cool completely on a wire rack.
Meanwhile, for Italian meringue, combine sugar and 60ml water in a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir until sugar dissolves and brush down sides of pan with a wet pastry brush to remove any sugar particles. Increase heat to high and cook until syrup reaches 121C on a sugar thermometer. Meanwhile, when syrup reaches 110C, start whisking eggwhites and cream of tartar in an electric mixer until soft peaks form. Gradually pour the hot syrup over eggwhites in a thin stream, whisking continuously until cooled, thick and glossy, approximately 10 minutes.
Spoon the rhubarb and raspberry mixture over tart. Transfer meringue to a piping bag fitted with a large star tip and pipe in swirls. From here could brown the meringue with a kitchen torch, but the beautiful pure white meringue peaks looked too perfect for me to want to touch it. Serve with the remaining syrup.
Yeah, forget what I said about it being time consuming. Just make it. It's perfect. Take a weekend at home and do a step every couple of hours and thank me for the motivation on your Sunday afternoon of bliss.
Recommended baking soundtrack: Bowerbirds - The Clearing. Oh, how I love the Bowerbirds.