Rhubarb And Cardamom Pie With Vanilla Custard

Shades of vivid pinks and flame reds embraced by the exotic fragrance of freshly ground cardamom and blanketed by layers of flaky pastry. This vibrant vegetable loves the company of custard, its tartness eased by velvety sweetness of egg and vanilla. A word of caution when making pie: pie demands patience, calmness and a cool room (and hands).


Makes 1

Ingredients

  • 300 grams All-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon Caster sugar
  • 226 grams Unsalted butter - cubed to 1.5 cm pieces
  • 6 tablespoons Ice cold water
  • 2 tablespoons Unfiltered apple cider vinegar
  • 800 grams Rhubarb - trimmed, sliced to 1.5 cm pieces
  • 100 grams Caster sugar
  • 5 Cardamom pods
  • 2 tablespoons Tapioca starch
  • 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 6 Egg yolks
  • 25 milliliters Whole milk
  • 25 milliliters Whipping cream (35% fat)
  • 60 grams Caster sugar
  • 2 Vanilla pods
  • 1 Egg - beaten

Directions

  1. 1. Start by macerating the rhubarb in 100g of sugar and 1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt in a large mixing bowl. Leave it for an hour and a pool of ruby red juice will puddle at the bottom.
  2. 2. Roast the cardamom over medium-low heat, or until you smell a warm fragrance wafting in the air. Remove the shells and pound the seeds with a mortar and pestle. You should get a fine powder. Leave it aside.
  3. 3. In the mean time, sift flour, 1 teaspoon of salt and sugar in a large mixing bowl. Whisk them until fully incorporated. Toss the cubed butter into the flour mixture. At this point, I would cover the bowl and place it in the refrigerator to cool it down for about 30 minutes. But if your kitchen is cool enough, move on the next step.
  4. 4. With your fingers (make sure they are cold!), smash each butter cube flat and swiftly rub them against the flour to create walnut-sized crumbs.
  5. 5. Mix the apple cider vinegar with the ice cold water. Tablespoon by tablespoon, add the water-vinegar concoction into the flour-butter mixture. Using a rubber spatula, mix the dough against the sides of the bowl and bring them slowly together. You can use your hands at the end, it should come together in a shaggy ball. Wrap it up in clingfilm and let it rest in the refrigerator for about an hour.
  6. 6. In a large saucepan, heat the rhubarb up over medium-low heat. Be careful not to overcook rhubarb or it will turn into a stringy mess. Add the cornstarch and cook it off, about 3 to 5 minutes. You should get a thick compote. Remove from heat and add the ground spices. Set aside until cool.
  7. 7. To form the pie, generously flour the work surface and rolling pin. Cut the dough into equal halves (return the other half back to fridge). Sprinkle some flour on top of the dough, and then use the rolling pin to flatten it down. Roll the dough out from the centre, constantly moving and flipping it to prevent it from sticking to the work surface. When you get a 14-inch diameter dough, transfer it to a 9-inch pie plate. Use a pair of scissors to trim the edge, you should leave about 3 cm hanging all around. Transfer the pie plate back to the refrigerator to cool and firm up, for about 30 minutes.
  8. 8. For the top crust, do the same as the bottom. This is where you get to be creative - create a lattice with a pastry wheel or use cookie cutters to form shapes. But if this is your first time, simply roll out the dough to 14-inch in diameter.
  9. 9. Pour the cooled rhubarb into the bottom crust. Lay the top crust over the dish. Using your fingers, fold the edges of the crust, tuck them in between the bottom crust and the pie plate, and then crimp the edge. Cut five slits on the top with a sharp knife, this will allow hot air to release while baking. Place the pie back into the refrigerator for about 15 to 30 minutes.
  10. 10. Preheat the oven to 220C. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Take the pie out and let it settle for about 5 minutes. Apply the egg wash with a pastry brush and sprinkle with turbinado sugar. Bake for one to 1 1/2 hours, until the juices are beginning to bubble in the centre and the crust is a uniform deep golden colour.
  11. 11. Remove from oven and transfer to a wire rack to cool for 4 to 6 hours. You can now start making the custard.
  12. 12. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, add the vanilla seeds and pods to milk and cream, and then bring it to a boil. In another mixing bowl. whisk the yolks and sugar until fully incorporated. Remove the saucepan from heat and gradually add the yolk mixture into the milk, whisking constantly (you don't want to end up with scrambled eggs). Return to low heat and stir until the mixture thickens. It should never come to a boil. The custard is ready when it coats the back of your spoon (it should reach about 83C). Discard the vanilla pods and leave the custard aside to cool.
  13. 13. To serve the pie, slice it to 6 to 8 equal pieces and pour the custard to your heart's content.

Notes

Keep everything cool. I refrigerate my pie tools and ingredients an hour before starting. The bigger the butter pieces, the flakier the crust will be. Remove any traces of rhubarb leaves, they are actually poisonous and not for consumption. Custard can be made the night before and refrigerated. Leftover pie can be stored in plastic wrap at room temperature for up to 2 days.

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