Tart rhubarb and sweet white chocolate is a delicious flavour pairing, and one I will keep returning to for the duration of the rhubarb season. In this bake I’ve applied the combination to a classic frangipane tart, using rhubarb compote in place of jam, and a filling studded with chocolate chunks and flavoured with cardamom. It’s a winner, and in my opinion, better than the standard strawberry variety (controversial).
Ingredients (enough for one 7.5 inch wide/ roughly 2 inch deep tart tin- serves 8)
For the pastry (there will be some leftover which will freeze well)
250g plain flour
140g unsalted butter
30g caster sugar
2 egg yolks
For the rhubarb filling
400g rhubarb, sliced into 2 inch batons
juice and zest 1 orange
30g caster sugar
For the almond frangipane
120g soft unsalted butter
120g caster sugar
2 large eggs
120g ground almonds
1tsp ground cardamom
100g white chocolate, roughly chopped
30g roughly chopped almonds
Start off by making the pastry. Place the flour, butter, sugar and salt in a food processor and pulse until it resembles breadcrumbs. At this stage add the egg yolks and pulse again until the mix comes together in large lumps (alternatively, rub the butter into the flour, salt and sugar using your fingertips then stir in the yolks using a cutlery knife). Tip the dough out and shape into a disc using your hands. Wrap in cling film and chill for 20 minutes.
While the pastry is chilling start on the rhubarb compote filling. To do this simply put 300g of the rhubarb (reserve the other batons for the top of the tart), the orange juice and zest in a saucepan along with the caster sugar. Heat gently, stirring often, until the rhubarb has broken down and reduced to a thick compote consistency. Set aside to cool.
Lightly grease an 7.5 (or 8) inch straight sided tart tin. Retrieve your pastry from the fridge and roll out to around 3mm thick and line the tin, pushing it right into the corners and trimming any excess. Prick the base all over with a fork and chill for 20 minutes or until firm. Preheat the oven to 190c.
Line the pastry case with baking paper and fill with baking beans. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until the walls of the pastry are cooked and supporting themselves. Remove the beans and baking paper and return to the oven until the base is crisp and cooked through (about 10 minutes). Set aside to cool.
While the pastry is baking, toss the reserved rhubarb batons in 1tbsp caster sugar and place on a tray- bake for 10 minutes.
Now it’s time to make the frangipane. To do this simply cream together the butter and sugar until pale, light and fluffy, then add in the eggs one at a time, beating well between each addition. Finally, tip in the cardamom, salt and almonds and briefly mix once more until combined. Reduce the oven temperature to 170c.
Now it’s time to assemble the tart. Spread the rhubarb compote over the base in one even layer, then add half the frangipane and sprinkle over half the chopped white chocolate pieces. Add the remaining frangipane and top with the rest of the white chocolate, chopped almonds and roasted rhubarb batons.
Bake for 35-40 minutes or until golden brown and cooked through. Serve hot or cold.
Ripe, pink fleshed figs are one of my very favourite fruits and pair brilliantly with so many other ingredients, from goats cheese and honey to cured hams and walnuts. In this cake I have used dried figs soaked in tea ( a method commonly used with dates to make sticky toffee pudding) to flavour the spiced sponge, then added a salty sweetness with the caramel drizzle and finished it off with a tangy mascarpone cheese icing, earthy pistachio praline and slices of fresh fig. Though the finished cake makes for a really beautiful centre piece, you could also enjoy it as a warm pudding with the salted caramel and a big scoop of vanilla ice cream.
For the sponge:
300g dried figs, chopped
325ml hot black tea
185g soft butter
275g light brown soft sugar
1tsp vanilla extract
375g self raising flour
1 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1tsp ground cinnamon
pinch black pepper
For the salted caramel (this is a sort of cheats caramel- a bit like butterscotch sauce):
50g golden syrup
50g light brown soft sugar
50ml double cream
pinch sea salt
For the pistachio praline:
150g caster sugar
200g shelled pistachios
For the mascarpone icing:
300ml double cream
3-4tbsp icing sugar
fresh figs and herbs
Preheat the oven to 170c fan (325F/ gas mark 3). Grease and line a deep square tin (around 22x22cm).
Place the chopped dry figs in a bowl or jug and pour over the hot tea. Leave to infuse while you start making the cake batter.
In a large bowl (or bowl of a stand mixer with paddle attachment) cream together the butter and sugar along with the vanilla until light and fluffy. Add in the eggs one at a time, beating well between each addition.
Once the eggs are incorporated, sift in the flour, bicarbonate of soda, spices and salt. Fold until the batter is smooth and all the ingredients are well combined then tip in your soaked figs (along with the tea) and fold once more.
Tip the mixture into the prepared tin and level off. Bake for 45-50 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean with just a few moist crumbs attached when inserted.
While your cake is baking, make the salted caramel. To do this simply pop the butter, syrup, sugar and cream in a saucepan and melt together. Once melted bring to the boil and let it bubble for a couple of minutes, then remove from the heat, add the salt to taste and leave to cool.
Next, make the pistachio praline topping. Line a tray with greaseproof paper and put the sugar and pistachios in a heavy bottom pan. Heat gently until the sugar starts melting. Swirl the pan occasionally to coat the pistachios and prevent burning. Once the sugar has completely melted increase the heat and turn the pistachios with a wooden spoon until the caramel reaches a deep golden colour, then tip onto the prepared tray and leave to set hard.
Lastly, make the mascarpone icing. In a large bowl (or bowl of a stand mixer with whisk attachment) whisk together the mascarpone, cream and icing sugar until you have a spreadable (but not overly whipped) consistency.
Once your cake is baked, prick lots of holes all over the surface and pour on about 2/3 of the salted caramel, allowing it to sink into the sponge. Leave to cool in the tin.
When your cake is completely cool you’re ready to decorate. Spread the mascarpone icing in an even layer all over the top and sides (or just the top if you like, it’s up to you!) and smooth with a palette knife. Use the remaining cooled caramel to drizzle down the sides then crush up the praline and sprinkle around the edges. Arrange the fresh fig slices on top and add some woody herbs (such as rosemary) for colour.