My eldest daughter recently invited a very special friend around to ours for lunch. She requested that I bake something "really amazing, impressive and delicious". She looked rather puzzled when I replied "Don't I always?!" So after much thought I decided to use up some of our enormous batch of rhubarb and bake a Rhubarb Meringue Tart which did indeed amaze and impress not only our guest but my family as well. It only lasted half an hour once it was sliced and all declared it to be delicious, the only complaint was that there wasn't more of it.
To make the pastry case:
225g/8oz plain white flour
110g/4oz cold unsalted butter, cubed
2 tsp caster sugar
1 medium free-range egg yolk
Sift the flour and salt into a mixing bowl. Add the butter and rub into the flour until the mixture looks like fine breadcrumbs. Stir through the sugar before adding the egg yolk and a little water.
I add a tablespoon of cold water then add more, if necessary, a teaspoonful at a time. Mix to a firm dough and press out to a disc shape. Wrap the dough in cling film and leave it to rest in the fridge for half an hour before you attempt to roll it out.
Preheat your oven to 190C/170C Fan and grease a 25cm fluted loose-bottomed tart/quiche tin.
Once your pastry has rested, roll it out until it is 2mm thick. Line the tin with the pastry leaving any excess pastry falling over the sides of the tin. Don’t be tempted to trim the pastry at this stage!
Line the pastry with baking paper and fill with ceramic baking beans. You can use rice or lentils if you don’t have any baking beans. Trim off any the excess pastry at this stage using a sharp knife. Bake the pastry case blind for about 15 - 20 minutes or until the pastry is pale golden and has dried out. Allow the pastry case to cool before you remove the paper and baking beans.
To make the rhubarb compote:
1kg rhubarb, cut in 5cm/2 inch lengths
finely grated zest of 1 lemon
Dissolve the sugar in the water over a low heat then increase the heat to bring the syrup to a simmer. Add the rhubarb and lemon zest then and cook for 5 minutes until the fruit is tender but not collapsing. Drain off the syrup into a separate saucepan. Heat the syrup to reduce it by up to 50% depending on how thick you want your compote to be. Add the rhubarb to the reduced syrup, pour into containers and store in the fridge until needed.
To make the meringue:
4 free range egg whites
250g caster sugar
½ tsp cream of tartar
Make the meringue by whisking the egg whites with half the sugar until stiff peaks form. Gradually add the remaining sugar and the cream of tartar whilst whisking. You should end up with a very stiff meringue mixture.
To assemble the Rhubarb Meringue Tart:
Preheat your oven to 180C/160C Fan. Spread the cooled pastry tart case with thick rhubarb compote then carefully spoon meringue over the top. Spread the meringue, making sure you cover the rhubarb compote completely and that the meringue forms a seal around the edge of the tart. Rough up the meringue with a spoon to make peaks on the top. Bake in the preheated oven for about 30 minutes, until the meringue is light golden. Keep an eye on it as it can go from golden to burnt very quickly. Cool for 10 minutes then chill in the fridge for half an hour to an hour before you serve it as this makes it much easier to cut neat slices.