At my local farm shop recently, I was prepared to knock even the frailest of shoppers to the floor to guarantee myself a bundle of deep pink Yorkshire rhubarb. I'm obsessed with the stuff. Its lure superseded that of sweets to my younger self when I first cooked some down to top a bowlful of rice pudding.
Yorkshire forced rhubarb is a treasure to find, and aside from its perfect colour and taste, its provenance dresses it with romantic mystery. To ensure its rose-tinted hue, Yorkshire forced rhubarb is grown in the dark, and harvested only by candlelight. With each mouthful, I imagine the workers picking it, as shadows from the candles flicker and dance against the barn walls.
INGREDIENTS- SERVES 6-8
FOR THE RHUBARB
- 250g rhubarb
- 200g caster sugar
- 150ml water
- 50ml ruby port
- Rose water, to taste
FOR THE TART
- 150g pistachios
- 120g caster sugar
- 120g unsalted butter, very soft
- 30g plain flour
- 2 large eggs
- Dried rose petals
- Chopped pistachios
- Alan Silverwood Tarte Maison tin, greased
Slice the rhubarb into lengths that are just a couple of centimetres shorter than the width of the tart tin. Set them aside. Put the sugar, water and port into fairly wide-based saucepan and bring to a boil. Once boiling reduce to a simmer and add the rose water to taste (don't burn your mouth!). Add the rhubarb and simmer just for 5 minutes, until tender but the shape is still intact. Remove from the syrup immediately and set onto a plate or tray. Do not throw the syrup away.
Preheat the oven to 200C/180C fan/gas mark 6.
Put the pistachios onto a baking tray and roast for 10 minutes, then remove and allow to cool. Grind the cooled pistachios in a spice or coffee grinder (I use my nutribullet) until very fine. Put the ground pistachios into the bowl of a KitchenAid fitted with paddle attachment, along with the sugar, butter and flour. Beat until smooth, then add the eggs, one at a time, until you have a smooth cake batter. Scoop the batter into the greased tin and level off, then layer the poached rhubarb pieces on top - if they're a little limp, it's best to transport them with a small offset spatula.
Bake the tart for 35-40 minutes, until set with a very slight golden brown colour around the edges - though it should mostly be a startling green.
While the cake bakes, boil the poaching syrup until it is thick like honey. As soon as the cake comes out of the oven, glaze it liberally with the syrup. Finish with some chopped pistachios and rose petals.