Custard and pastry make wonderful partners. Vanilla-scented crème patissiere teamed with flaky, yeast-leavened pastry and finished with roasted tart rhubarb is a combination not to be missed – pure pastry heaven!
- 1 egg yolk whisked with 2 tsp milk, to glaze
- icing sugar, to dust
- 1 vanilla bean, split lengthways and seeds scraped
- 80 ml (⅓ cup) milk
- 80 ml (⅓ cup) pouring cream
- 2 egg yolks
- 2 tbsp caster sugar
- 1 tbsp plain flour
- 125 ml (½ cup) lukewarm milk
- 7 g (1 sachet) dried yeast
- 250 g (1⅔ cups) plain flour
- 185 g butter, chilled and cut into 2 cm cubes
- 1 egg, at room temperature, lightly whisked
- 2 tbsp caster sugar
- 400 g trimmed rhubarb (about 1 bunch), cut into 4 cm lengths
- 110 g (½ cup) raw sugar
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Chilling time 3 hours
Proving time 15 minutes
To make the crème patissiere, put the milk, cream and vanilla seeds and bean into a medium saucepan. Bring just to a simmer over a medium heat. Remove from heat and remove the vanilla bean. Use a balloon whisk to whisk the egg yolks, sugar and flour together in a heatproof bowl until well combined. Gradually whisk in the milk mixture until smooth and well combined. Return to the heat and stir constantly with the whisk over medium heat until the mixture comes to a simmer. Simmer, stirring constantly with the whisk, for 2 minutes. Pass the crème patissiere through a sieve into a heatproof bowl, cover the surface with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 hours or until chilled.
To make the pastry, put the milk in a large bowl and sprinkle the yeast over the top. Set aside for 5 minutes. Put the flour and butter into the bowl of a food processor and use the pulse button to process until the butter is cut into 1 cm pieces (make sure your don’t process any further). Transfer to a large bowl. Use a fork to whisk the egg and sugar into the milk mixture to combine. Add to the flour and butter mixture and use a wooden spoon and then your hands to mix until it is just combined. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and place in the fridge for 2 hours.
Meanwhile, to make the roasted rhubarb, preheat the oven to 180°C (160°C fan-forced ). Rinse the rhubarb and shake off any excess water. Place in a bowl with the sugar and toss to combine. Transfer to an ovenproof dish just large enough to hold the rhubarb in a single layer and cover with foil. Bake in preheated oven for 10 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for a further 5-10 minutes or until the rhubarb is still holding its shape but tender when tested with a skewer. Cool in the dish (see Baker’s tips)
Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and bring together with your hands. Knead for 30 seconds or until smooth. Shape into a rectangle and then use a lightly floured rolling pin to roll the out until about 40 x 25 cm, keeping the edges as straight as possible. Turn the pastry so a long side is nearest to you. Fold the right third of the dough in to cover the centre third and then fold the left side in also. Turn the dough clockwise a quarter turn. Fold the dough into thirds as before to make a small rectangle.
Flip the dough over on the bench and repeat the rolling and folding process again as in step 3. You will finish with a small rectangle. Wrap well in plastic wrap and chill for 30 minutes.
Increase the oven temperature to 200°C (180°C fan-forced). Line a two baking trays with non-stick baking paper.
Roll out the pastry with a lightly floured rolling pin on a lightly floured surface to a rectangle about (27 x 36 cm) and about 5 mm thick. Trim the edges and then cut into six squares (about 9 cm each) and transfer to the lined trays. Working with one square at a time, fold in each of the four corners into the centre to form a smaller square. Place a spoonful of the crème patissiere into the centre and then cover with 5-6 pieces of rhubarb. Repeat with the remaining pastry squares, custard and rhubarb. Cover the pastries loosely with a slightly damp tea towel and set aside in a warm, draught-free place for 15 minutes or until the pastry is ‘puffy’.
Brush the pastries with the egg wash to glaze and bake in preheated oven. Bake in preheated oven for 16-18 minutes, swapping the trays around after 8 minutes, or until the pastry is golden, crisp and cooked through. Remove from oven and cool slightly on the tray before dusting with icing sugar. Serve warm or at room temperature.
• Once the rhubarb is baked and cooled (to the end of step 3) it can be kept in an airtight container with the syrup for up to 3 days.
• These pastries are best eaten the day they are made.
Photography by Alan Benson. Styling by Sarah O’Brien. Food preparation by Kerrie Ray. Creative concept by Lou Fay.
For more recipes, view our online column, Bakeproof: Comforting custard.