Recipe: Rhubarb, Orange & Cardamom Custard Tart

While technically a vegetable, rhubarb has found its match with sweet, wobbly custard.  

Recipe and photos: Elien Lewis

Makes: one 23cm tart
Serves: 6 to 8


For the pastry: 
1½ cups plain flour
120g cold butter, cubed
2 tablespoons sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
1 egg lightly beaten
1 to 2 tablespoons milk

For the rhubarb:
250g rhubarb stalks, washed and cut into
2cm to 3cm pieces
¼ cup sugar
1 tablespoon finely grated orange zest
¼ teaspoon salt

For the custard: 
100ml milk
250ml cream
1 tablespoon finely grated orange zest
5 cardamom pods, crushed to release the seeds
2 eggs
2 egg yolks
½ cup sugar
1 teaspoon cornflour
1 teaspoon vanilla extract


Make the pastry first. Using a food processor, or a pastry cutter and a bowl, mix the flour and butter until they resemble coarse breadcrumbs. Add the sugar and salt, followed by the beaten egg and just enough of the milk so the dough forms a ball. Don’t overmix it. Put the dough in a clean bowl and cover with a damp tea towel. Chill for at least 30 minutes.

Heat the oven to 180°C. Grease a 23cm tart tin. Roll out the dough on a lightly floured bench until about 5mm thick. Line the tart tin with the dough and trim off any excess. Prick the bottom of the pastry a few times with a fork. Chill for 15 minutes, then put a piece of baking paper on top of the pastry and fill the tin with baking weights or rice.

Bake the pastry for 8 to 10 minutes, then remove the baking paper and weights. Return the pastry to the oven and bake for another 15 minutes, until golden brown. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool.

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Mix the rhubarb, sugar, salt and orange zest. Set aside to macerate while starting the custard. To make the custard, put the milk, cream, orange zest and cardamom seeds in a saucepan. Put the eggs, egg yolks, sugar, cornflour and vanilla in a heatproof bowl and beat well to combine.

Set the saucepan over medium heat until nearly simmering. Slowly ladle a small amount of the hot cream into the egg mixture, whisking constantly. Once all the cream has been incorporated, pour it all back into the saucepan.

Lower the heat and whisk the custard continuously — it will thicken quickly. Remove it from the heat and pour through a sieve to remove the cardamom seeds. Set aside.
Set a deep frying pan over medium heat. Add the rhubarb and cook for 5 minutes so it softens and becomes slightly caramelized.

Pour the custard into the pastry case. Arrange the rhubarb on top. Bake for 15 minutes, until the custard is just set but still has a slight wobble. Let the tart cool completely before serving.

This is an extract from our new special edition, Sustainability Through the Seasons. This special edition practical guide to living a greener and more environmentally friendly life 365 days of the year. It is packed with self-sufficiency tips on seasonal gardening, low-waste living, garden-to-table cooking, sewing and mending, bread-making and crochet and knitting.


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