This Stewed Rhubarb Tart with Vanilla Custard Filling is my favourite way to use rhubarb when in season! With its crispy shortcrust pastry, sweet pastry cream filling and spiced rhubarb compote topping, this tart makes a beautiful dessert to serve at the end of a meal or bring to a party!
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So Rhubarb Season is finally here and you got tempted by these beautiful fruits. Not sure what to make with them and wondering what can you do with a lot of rhubarb? The answer is: this delicious Rhubarb Tart with Sweet Shortbread Crust!
This simple French Rhubarb Tart combines a crispy sweet shortcrust pastry, a Crème Pâtissière Filling (Vanilla Pastry Cream) and a spiced Rhubarb Compote topping.
A delicious mix of crunchy, sweet, creamy, spiced and tangy!
How to make Rhubarb Tart from Scratch
This tart is made out of 3 elements:
- a Sweet Shortcrust Pastry, known as “Pâte Sucrée” in French.
- a Vanilla Custard Filling
- a spiced Rhubarb Compote – or stewed Rhubarb.
I love to make everything from scratch – including the tart pastry – but you can absolutely take shortcuts and use a pre-made pastry and custard filling.
Fully made from scratch, you’d think that this tart is probably more for advanced bakers but do not worry. I will show you all the steps to re-create this delicious pie at home!
Rhubarb Pie Pastry
The first step of this recipe is preparing the Pastry – if you decide to make it at home. I used a Sweet Shortcrust Pastry base here, which is known to work perfectly with fruity fillings.
It has a denser and crispier texture than most flaky shortcrust pastry, but that’s exactly what you want to avoid ending up with a soaked pastry. That being said, you can absolutely use a simple shortcrust pastry here if you prefer (or use one from the store).
This tart pastry is made from soft Unsalted Butter, Powdered or Confectioner’s Sugar, Almond Meal, Eggs, Salt and Plain Flour. To make the pastry, you will need to cream the butter and sugar together, add the Almond Meal, Egg and Salt and finally mix in the flour.
You can find my full Sweet Shortcrust Pastry Recipe here – it shows you exactly how to make this pastry at home with all the steps, tricks and tips!
The pastry needs to be fully blind-baked here because the fillings do not require further cooking in the oven. That means that the pastry will need to be in the oven until fully baked and crispy.
This recipe will fit a 25 cm / 10 inch Tart Pan. I recommend using a tart pan with removable bottom plate to more easily serve the tart.
Pastry Cream Tart Filling
The centre of the tart is filled with a simple Vanilla Pastry Cream. Again, you can use a store-bought Vanilla Custard and use it as a filling for this tart, but a homemade one always taste so much better if you ask me!
This Rhubarb Custard Pie filling is made out of Milk, Vanilla, Caster Sugar, Egg Yolks and Cornstarch. It is a basic cream recipe that you can use in so many ways, including inside Choux Buns, to fill cakes or serve over your favourite desserts.
This cream is made on the stove in a pot where the ingredients are cooked together until thick and creamy, then chilled. It can be made in advance and kept in the fridge until ready to use to make this rhubarb tart.
You can read more about how to make Pastry Cream in this article, including the full recipe, tips and tricks.
How to prepare Rhubarb Compote
Once the tart pastry and cream filling are ready and cooked, it is time to prepare the stewed Rhubarb (or rhubarb compote)!
This Cooked Rhubarb Tart Filling is simply made on the stove with a few ingredients:
- Fresh Rhubarb Stalks
- Caster Sugar – or fine white sugar
- Lemon – both juice and peels
- Cinnamon Sticks – or powder
- Star Anise Pods – or powder
I love to add spices to rhubarb but it is optional. Feel free to add/substitute your favourite spices or flavouring to the fruits! They would work really well with Ginger or Orange for example. You could also add Strawberries to the mix, or even some wine!
Should I peel rhubarb?
It really depends on the rhubarb you buy. Depending on the type, quality and ripeness of the rhubarb, you might need to peel the stalks to remove any strings or fibres. I did not need to peel the rhubarb here, but it is up to you.
Note that you should never use rhubarb leaves are they are poisonous!
You can read more about picking, preparing and cooking rhubarb here.
Do I need to cook rhubarb before making the tart?
Yes, the rhubarb needs to be pre-cooked in this recipe. All elements are baked or cooked separately and the rhubarb will not be cooking any further in the oven.
For this recipe, I made a stewed rhubarb filling so I pushed the cooking until the fruit started to fall apart. But you could also reduce the cooking time and simply poach the fruits for a few minutes or until soft and create a fun graphic pattern with them.
How to make Rhubarb Compote
- Place the Water and Sugar in a medium size pot on medium heat until the sugar dissolves.
- Add the Rhubarb Stalks cut into small sticks along with the Lemon Juice, Lemon Peels (*), Cinnamon Stick and Star Anise Pods.
- Leave to simmer for 5 to 10 minutes (less or more, depending on how ripe the rhubarb is) or until the fruit starts to break apart.
- Use a slotted spoon to remove the fruits from the poaching liquid and transfer into a small bowl or recipient. Remove the lemon peels, cinnamon stick and start anise pods.
- Use a fork (or spoon) to break the stalks and create the compote. If it does not easily break apart, it means the fruits were not cooked enough. Keep any juices that could come out of the fruit, they will work great over the custard!
- Leave to cool down before using for the tart.
(*) I used large pieces of lemon peels instead of zests simply because it is easier to remove from the cooked fruits later on.
Assembling the Fruit Custard Tart
Once all of your different elements are baked, cooked and cooled, it is time to assemble the rhubarb custard tart!
- Transfer the chilled Pastry Cream over the baked (and cool) Tart Crust (*). Use a small offset spatula (or the back of a spoon) to spread it over the pastry.
- Pour the Rhubarb Compote over the Vanilla Custard and spread it over the cream.
- Place back in the fridge until set, or ready to be eaten.
(*) You might need to loosen the cream with a spatula or whisk before filling the pastry with it as it will be rather stiff when coming out of the fridge.
How to store this Rhubarb Custard Tart
Once all assembled, the tart should be kept in the fridge. Make sure to cover the finished tart with wrap or foil so that it does not absorb any smell from the fridge.
I do not recommend freezing this tart.
How long can I keep this Rhubarb Pie?
This Open Rhubarb Tart will keep well for up to 3 days in the fridge if all the elements are made and assembled the same day.
The pastry crust can be pre-baked and kept for 1 or 2 days at room temperature (wrapped or covered) before using.
The same goes with the pastry cream; it can be made in advance and kept in the fridge for about a day before using it to fill the tart. But note that the overall lifespan of pastry cream is 3 days – so if you make the cream in advance, the finished tart should be kept for less time in the fridge.
More Fruit Tarts Recipes:
- Strawberry Custard Tartlets
- Easy French Apple Tart
- Apple Galette with Applesauce
- Easy Peach Galette
- Peach Frangipane Tart
- Plum Custard Tart
Rhubarb Tart with Custard Filling Recipe:
Rhubarb Tart with Custard
Vanilla Pastry Cream
- 375 ml (1 1/2 cup) Full Cream Milk
- 1/2 tsp Vanilla Paste, or Extract
- 3 Egg Yolks
- 30 gr (2 tbsp) Caster Sugar
- 20 gr (2 1/2 tbsp) Cornstarch
- 500 gr (1 pound) Fresh Rhubarb
- 500 ml (2 cups) Water (*)
- 150 gr (2/3 cups) Caster Sugar
- 1 Lemon
- 1 stick Cinnamon, or 1/2 tsp Ground Cinnamon
- 6 Star Anise Pods, or 1/2 tsp Ground Star Anise
Sweet Shortcrust Pastry
- Prepare the Pastry following these instructions then fill your 25cm / 10 inch Tart Pan with the Pastry.
- Preheat the oven on 160'C/325'F and place the tart pan with the pastry in the freezer while the oven is preheating.
- Bake for 20 to 30 minutes or until fully baked, dry to the touch and golden. Set aside to cool down.
Vanilla Pastry Cream
- Heat up the Milk and Vanilla in a small pot over low heat.
- In a separate bowl, whisk together the Egg Yolks and Sugar. Add the Cornstarch and whisk until smooth.
- Once the Milk starts to boil, remove from the heat and slowly pour over the Egg/Sugar/Cornstarch while whisking. Transfer back into the Pot and place back on the stove on low heat.
- Whisk until the cream starts to thicken. When you see the first boil, keep whisking for an additional 30 seconds then pour into a small heat-proof bowl or shallow baking pan. Cover with plastic wrap touching the surface and place in the fridge too cool down completely (30 minutes to 1 hour)
- Prepare the Rhubarb: remove the leaves, wash the stalks and cut them into small sticks. Set aside.
- Place the Water and Sugar in a medium size pot over and leave to heat up until the sugar has dissolved.
- Add the Rhubarb Stalk, the Peels of the Lemon, the Juice of half the lemon, the Cinnamon Stick and Star Anise Pods.
- Bring to a simmer then leave to cook for 5 to 10 minutes (1) or until the rhubarb becomes very soft and starts to break apart.
- Use a slotted spoon (2) to remove the rhubarb from the liquid and transfer into a clean bowl or recipient. Discard the lemon peels, cinnamon stick and star anise pods. Use a fork or spoon to break the rhubarb until it turns into a compote (3). Set aside to cool down.
Assembling the Tart
- When all the elements are cool, start assembling the tart: spread the Pastry Cream (4) over the baked tart crust using an offset spatula or the back of a spoon.
- Place the Rhubarb Compote over the custard and spread it with a spoon.
- Place back in the fridge to set for about 30 minutes or until ready to be served.
- Depending on how fresh or ripe the rhubarb is, you might need to cook it for longer. Leave it to poach in the liquid until the rhubarb becomes very soft and the stalks start to break apart.
- Using a slotted spoon allows to discard any cooking liquids
- If the rhubarb seems to be too firm to break apart, it means it wasn’t cooked for long enough.
- You might need work the cream with a spatula or whisk to loosen it before spreading it over the pastry – it should be relatively firm when it comes out of the fridge.