Visiting our friends in Vermont always includes an unusual and surprising adventure. I don’t know if it is something about the Green Mountains or the high cow-to-person ratio, but all of my Vermont friends are crazy in only the best ways. We have visited abandoned ski mountains to swing on ski lifts in the summer, slid down snowy ski jumps on our rear-ends in the dark on New Year’s Eve, checked out many secret swimming spots, visited cool farmers, farms, breweries, and bakeries. Most recently we dug random rhubarb plants from the ground with our bare hands. I can’t tell you how happy this last adventure made me!
Evan spotted the rhubarb first. Then I made my way through waist-deep weeds and who knows what to find the largest rhubarb plants I had ever seen! The stalks were all at least 2 feet long as big around as a large carrot. These things were huge! I harvested a few armloads and then dug up a few giant rhubarb crowns with my bare hands and Mark’s pocket knife (sorry Mark) to bring back home for my garden. I had been hoping to find someone willing to share their rhubarb plants with me all spring. Wild foraged rhubarb was even better.
The sight of Danielle’s trunk filled with all of our accidentally found rhubarb makes me so happy!
Back at home, I needed to make this stuff disappear. My fridge usually is quite full of condiments, random kitchen experiments (remind me not to triple the batch of quince paste and homemade maraschino cherries). I didn’t have room for all of the rhubarb we harvested and something practical like dinner ingredients. I needed to use a lot of rhubarb fast.
I present to you my All-Rhubarb Tart. I took inspiration from Alice Waters of Chez Panisse. She folds her pastry around a dam made of rhubarb to seal in all of the rhubarb’s juices as the galette bakes. Cool, right?
Rather than reinventing the wheel, I used my Buttermilk Pie Dough recipe for the pastry which creates an unbelievable crisp crust to support all of the rhubarb juices. I also used Alice Waters’ technique to build up the edge of the tart. And then I used a lot of rhubarb. This recipe is for rhubarb lovers! I used 1 ⅓ lbs of trimmed rhubarb and just enough sugar to balance rhubarb’s natural sourness. A little flour thickened the juices, and a pinch of salt added balance. I changed up the look of the tart and made it square with long lengths of rhubarb running down it instead of traditional thin slices or a random pile.
I melted a little strawberry jelly to brush over the rhubarb after it is baked and cooled for extra shine. This it totally optional, but gives the tart a fancier appearance.
The only unusual equipment needed is a ruler or tape measure. There are very few times that I will ever measure baking ingredients in inches.
I count this whole project as a major success. Not only we find and harvest rhubarb in the woods of Vermont; we made a delicious tart and the crowns I dug and planted back at home are growing new stalks! Abra-rhubabra! Like magic!
- 1 ½ lbs rhubarb - leaves and root ends trimmed and discarded
- 1 ⅕ C sugar
- 4 T flour
- Pinch of salt
- Half batch of Buttermilk Pie Dough
- Coarse sugar
- Strawberry jelly (not jam)
- Special equipment:
- Half-sheet pan or cookie sheet
- Parchment paper or non-stick baking mat
- Ruler or tape measure
- Pastry brush
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
- In a medium bowl combine the flour, sugar and salt. Set aside
- Roll the chilled pastry into a large rectangle.
- If your rhubarb stalks are very large and thick, cut them all in half lengthways.
- Using the tape measure or ruler, measure a 10”x13” rectangle. I use a butter knife to gently score the pastry as I measure. Measure twice, cut once. Transfer the pastry to a half sheet pan lined with parchment or a non stick baking mat. Set aside.
- Using the ruler again measure and trim two stalks of rhubarb to 9” each and another two stalks to 7” each.
- Trim the remaining rhubarb to 8” stalks. Any remaining odd length bits can be sliced thinly and set aside.
- Arrange the two 7” and two 8” stalks on the center of trimmed pastry to form a rectangle leaving a frame of pastry surrounding the outside of the rhubarb.
- Fold the frame of pastry gently over the rhubarb rectangle to secure the rhubarb dam. Fold and pinch the corners for added security.
- Measure ¼ C of the sugar mixture and spread the mix on the inside of the tart.
- Arrange half of the remaining rhubarb stalks and all of the remaining odd bits on top of the rhubarb.
- Sprinkle the remaining sugar mixture on top of the rhubarb stalks. Don’t worry, it will look like a lot of sugar!
- Arrange the rest of the rhubarb stalks on top of the sugar mixture.
- Brush the pastry with milk and sprinkle with coarse sugar.
- Bake the pastry on the center rack for 45 minutes - rotating every 15 minutes. The tart will be done when the crust is deeply golden and the juices are bubbling.
- Cool the tart completely.
- Over a double boiler gently melt a few tablespoons of the strawberry jelly. Brush the jelly over the rhubarb.
- Cut the tart into squares and serve with ice cream.