Strawberry and rhubarb cake: recipe

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 A relatively easy but impressive cake based on a traditional French strawberry tart, with a twist of rhubarb.

What you might know from reading previous blog posts, is that I am crazy about strawberries. I think I’ve also retweeted about 100 photos of them in the last month. What you might not know is that I am also crazy about rhubarb.

As a kid, I was introduced to baking and eating baked goods by my grandmother. Amongst her specialities were fruit crumbles. My brother and I used to fight it out over whether she should make our favourites: apple for him, rhubarb for me.

It is a happy fact of life that strawberry season coincides with the high point of the rhubarb season. June rhubarb might not be as delicate and pretty as the early forced rhubarb, but it’s packed with flavour. So this week I decided to make a cake that combines the two.

A classic French strawberry tart, tarte aux fraises, is built up in the following way: a layer of sablée breton, a layer of strawberry jam, a layer of crème pâtissiere, and a layer of fresh strawberries.

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For my variation, I decided to use a layer of homemade rhubarb compote and to make a glaze from rhubarb jam as well. For looks, I also decided to colour the crème pâtissiere pink.

The French art of making a ‘wow’ when it comes to pâtisserie is about taking great care over the flavours but also over presentation. For this one, I sliced and cut strawberries to the same size so that they appear regular when laid on top. The little extra care goes a long way.

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What are your favourite flavours from childhood? Do you have a signature dish that uses them?

 

Strawberry and rhubarb cake

Serves six

Active time: 35 minutes

Total time: 3 hours

 

Ingredients

For the rhubarb compote:

200g rhubarb

50g caster sugar

2 tablespoons water

For the sablée breton:

130g caster sugar

3 egg yolks

150g softened butter

200g flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

10g baking powder

For the crème pâtissiere:

1/2 vanilla pod

250ml milk

3 egg yolks

50g caster sugar

20g flour

20g butter

1/8 teaspoon red colouring

For the topping:

250g fresh strawberries

For the glaze:

1 tablespoon rhubarb jam

1 tablespoon water

10g chopped pistachios

 

Make the rhubarb compote:

1. Peel and chop the rhubarb into small chunks, about ½ centimetre each. Make sure you remove all the stringy bits on the outside. Place in a saucepan and add the sugar and water.

2. Bring to the boil and then cook for five minutes, stirring all the time. The chunks will break down into a mush with the help of a wooden spoon.

3. Leave to cool.

Make the sablée breton:

4. Beat the sugar and egg yolks together in a bowl with a whisk. After about two minutes the mixture will turn pale and smooth. This is what you are looking for.

5. Add the softened butter in small batches and incorporate by beating with the whisk. Don’t worry if you have some small lumps but try and get it as smooth as possible.

6. Sift the flour, salt, and baking powder together into the bowl and mix with a spatula or wooden spoon. Do not work the mixture too much, but make sure that all the powder from the sides of the bowl is incorporated. If you want, you can use your hands to bring the mixture together into a loose dough.

7. Place the mixture on a sheet of plastic film. Press it down into a disk of about 1 ½ centimetres. This will help to roll it out later. Wrap in the plastic film and refrigerate for at least two hours.

8. Roll the dough out on a piece of greaseproof paper until it’s about 4 mm thick. Use a 22cm metal baking ring to cut a circle. Leave the ring in place and remove the excess dough. Then bake, with the ring still in place, for 20 mins at 180°C. If you cannot find a baking ring, then you can use the walls of a springform tin with a removable bottom. The dough will appear to rise and then fall in the middle leaving a ridge around the edge. This is normal and makes filling easier.

9. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely before removing the ring. The pastry will feel soft until it is cool when it will go hard and crunchy.

Make the crème pâtissiere:

10. Boil the vanilla pod with the milk; leave it to infuse for 10 minutes.

11. Whisk the egg yolks and sugar together; add the sifted flour and food colouring and combine until smooth.

12. Add the milk and mix; then put everything back into the saucepan and bring to the boil; simmer for two minutes.

13. Whisk the butter into the mixture and allow to cool completely.

Make the glaze:

14. Melt the rhubarb jam in a saucepan with the water. Allow to cool.

Putting it all together:

15. Spread the rhubarb compote evenly over the sablée breton. Using a piping bag, cover it with the crème pâtissiere in a spiral shape working from the outside in. Then smooth the crème pâtissiere using a palette knife.

16. Chop the strawberries in two. Starting at the outside, lay them overlapping each other, cut side up in concentric rings until the whole tart is covered. Paint the strawberries with the glaze and sprinkle with chopped pistachios.

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8 Thoughts on “Strawberry and rhubarb cake: recipe

  1. I love the sound and look of this tart. It looks like it would take time and care to put together which I really enjoy (when time allows!). Beautiful combination of flavours too.

    • lucamarchiori on June 18, 2014 at 7:36 am said:

      Thanks! All french patisserie takes a little longer to get the look just right but it’s worth it. French pastry chefs often use tweezers to individually place pieces of garnish. But that’s what makes you say, ‘oh la vache!’

  2. Looks awesome. I am sending the best wishes I can for you and your lovely site!!! I know you will be super successful. Great name, btw!!

  3. Luca Marchiori on June 18, 2014 at 12:21 pm said:

    Thank you Monica! Coming from you, that means a lot.

  4. Lovely clean site, letting the food pics jump up and bite you on the nose.
    Congrats Luca!

    May need to give that tart a go, sounds amazing. All the best my lovely.

  5. LOVE the new look! And that cake – oh my goodness!!

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