Rhubarb and Almond Tart Daffodil Soup

I AM a feasting kinda gal, excess draws me like a moth to a flame and there’s nothing that excites me more than an 8-hour lunch that becomes supper (I call that lupper) and then goes on into the night as we open yet another bottle. My friend Andy, who is more English than I am, recognises it as a ‘Leo’ (Sayer = all-dayer in Cockney rhyming slang). It’s a well-established ritual but one that happens less often as we get older, and not at all under current lockdown restrictions. Sigh.

Tasting menus excite me. They allow smidgins of lots of different foods but never trigger the synapse that controls the Off button. I read menu like others novels. All the starters, please, then divvy up the mains so we can all have a taste. Someone at the table will always say ‘ooh, there’s a chocolate thing on, I must save room for that’ and I’ll think boo, how dull, I’ll have the CHEESE.

I am quite well known for desserts generally, have made and sold countless of them in various establishments over the years, including a Queen of Puddings that made a guest cry. I’m just not a huge fan of eating them, even though I come from a long line of sweet-toothed Scottish tablet eaters.

But there’s one dessert I can never refuse: a soft squidgy frangipane tart in crisp pastry is a heady happiness generator. I don’t mind which fruit – it can be pear, apple, raspberries, quince or, as in this case, rhubarb. So whatever is in season. The frangipane tart is a twist on the Galette des Rois, a traditional French pastry served on Twelfth Night, and the link is ground almonds or, more specifically, the almond-butter-sugar-egg combo that makes the filling. Definitely more than the sum of their parts.

This recipe will make a deep 23cm tart or a shallower 30cm flan tin (although you will need a third more pastry for the bigger version).

Rhubarb and Almond Tart Daffodil Soup
Rhubarb and Almond Tart Daffodil Soup

For the pastry

  • 170g plain flour
  • 85g unsalted butter
  • 2 tbsp icing sugar
  • A generous pinch of sea salt
  • 1.5-2 tbsp iced water

For the filling

  • 200g unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 200g caster sugar
  • 200g ground almonds
  • 2 medium free-range eggs
  • 2 medium free-range egg yolks
  • Generous pinch of sea salt
  • 1tsp Vanilla paste, lemon or almond essence (optional)
  • 4 pears or apples, peeled, quartered and sliced in fans, or 400g rhubarb, cut in 4cm lengths
  • 2tbsp apricot jam to glaze (optional)

The method

  • Put the flour, sugar, butter and salt in a food processor and blitz to a coarse crumb. Add a tablespoon of water and blitz again, adding the rest of the water if required for the pastry to come together in a ball. You don’t want wet and sticky, but not too crumbly either.
  • I usually roll and line straight away, and then rest and chill before baking. If you’ve worked quickly to get to this point the pastry won’t need resting before it’s rolled.
  • Heat the oven to 200C, gently prick the pastry with a fork, line with baking parchment and fill with beans or rice or coins. Blind bake for 10-12 minutes, then remove the beans and paper and return the pastry to the oven for another 6-8 minutes until the base is cooked and has a sandy texture.
  • While the pastry is cooling, cream the butter and sugar in a mixer with a whisk attachment (or use a hand mixer) until pale and fluffy. Add the eggs and the yolks one at a time, beating between each addition. Add any flavourings you have chosen at this time. Finally, gently fold in the ground almonds and pour the mixture into the tart case.
  • Arrange the fruit artfully on top and bake on the middle shelf for 10 minutes at 200C before turning the oven down to 180C for another 40-45 minutes. It should be puffy, golden brown and set in the middle, and the fruit should be cooked (you can test this with a toothpick).
  • If you’re glazing the tart, heat the apricot jam in a ramekin in the microwave for 20 seconds and use a pastry brush to gently wash the top – this gives the tart a lovely professional finish but a dusting of icing sugar would also be fine if you’re not bothered.

Serve warm or at room temperature with some double cream or creme fraiche.

Or don’t tell anyone you made it and retreat to the furthest corner of the house and eat it all yourself.

You can keep your chocolate thingamebob, the almond tart is all mine.

Rhubarb and Almond Tart Daffodil Soup