Rhubarb and custard tart with coconut topping

A classic combination of sweet pink rhubarb and creamy vanilla custard looks stunning in a crisp pastry case by Richard Corrigan
By Richard Corrigan
Rhubarb and custard tart with coconut topping
  • Rating:
  • Serves: 8-10
  • Cook Time: 2 hours 15 minutes
  • Prep Time: 40 minutes plus 2 hours cooling time
  • Effort: medium


For the sweet pastry

  • 330 g plain flour
  • 170 g cold butter, diced
  • 85 g sugar
  • 2 eggs

For the rhubarb filling

  • 600 g rhubarb, trimmed and cut into 3cm pieces
  • 200 g sugar
  • 1 orange, grated zest only
  • 1 tsp ground ginger

For the custard filling

  • 375 g double cream
  • 200 ml whole milk
  • 1 vanilla pod, split in half lengthways
  • 65 g sugar
  • 125 g egg yolks, (about 7 large egg yolks)
  • 50 g freshly grated coconut, lightly toasted under a hot grill, to decorate (see cook's tips)

Tips and Suggestions

If you can't buy freshly grated coconut and don't want to grate it freshly from a whole coconut yourself, then you can use frozen grated coconut, available from some Asian stores. Alternatively soak 30g of desiccated unsweetened coconut in warm water for half an hour or until softened, then toast lightly under a hot grill until golden-brown.


1. For the sweet pastry: tip the flour and butter into a food processor and pulse together until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs (alternatively rub in by hand). Add the sugar and eggs and pulse until the mixture just comes together, adding a splash of cold water if necessary.

2. Preheat the oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4.

3. Tip the dough onto the work surface, shape into a rough ball, wrap in cling film and chill in the fridge for about half an hour or more.

4. Unwrap the dough and roll out on a lightly floured surface to a thickness of about 3mm then carefully ease the rolled dough into a 28cm flan tin, pushing it down into the sides. Trim off any excess which can be rewrapped and chilled or frozen for use in another recipe.

5. Line the dough with a sheet of baking parchment then tip in some baking beans or uncooked rice or lentils. Bake blind in the oven for 20 minutes, or until lightly golden at the edges, then remove the baking parchment and baking beans and return the pastry to the oven for a further 20 minutes, until the base is crisp and golden. Remove from the oven and cool.

6. For the rhubarb filling: preheat the oven to 120C/100C fan/gas ¼.

7. Mix all of the rhubarb ingredients together in a small, non-reactive roasting tin with 1 tablespoon of water and cook in the oven for 1 ½ hours until tender and swimming in its own juice. Drain the rhubarb through a sieve and discard the juices.

8. For the custard filling: while the rhubarb is cooking, pour the cream and milk into a small saucepan. Scrape the seeds out of the vanilla pod and add both the seeds and the pod to the saucepan then bring the mixture almost to a boil over a medium heat.

9. While the cream mixture is heating, whisk together the sugar and egg yolks in a large bowl until thick and pale.

10. Very slowly add the hot cream mixture to the egg yolks, whisking continuously, then strain the custard through a sieve and set aside to cool.

11. To finish the tart, preheat the oven to 120C/100C fan/gas ¼.

12. Arrange the drained rhubarb over the bottom of the pastry case then pour over the custard. Bake in the oven for 40-45 minutes, or until almost set but still with a light wobble in the middle.

13. Remove from the oven, sprinkle over the toasted coconut and leave to cool before removing from the tin and serving.

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