The first rhubarb of the Spring is a special thing and deserving of a kind of reverence. The first crop from the garden; the start of hopeful bounty from the earth. And then the pale pink to deep red stems that haven’t yet been turned green with age. So here is my homage to the first rhubarb of Spring. Yes, you can buy it at Christmas in the supermarkets but that is not the same as harvesting your own. But if time is pressing, rather than saying there is no time to make a real pudding, cheat and use the excellent ready made custard available to buy. I admit it. I did.
- 180ml/ half pint of double cream, cold from the fridge
- Half the amount of the custard from the recipe below or half of a pint/500ml tub of good quality vanilla custard (e.g. Waitrose Madagascan vanilla custard)
- Medium bunch of fresh spring rhubarb
- Cook the rhubarb – I like to chop the rhubarb into short sections and put in a shallow baking dish with a good sprinkling of caster sugar and bake in a medium oven for 20-30 minutes until soft. Alternatively you could do the same in a pan on the hob. Allow the rhubarb to cool fully.
- Whip the cream until soft peak stage.
- Fold together the whipped cream, custard and rhubarb which should be in roughly equal proportions i.e. a third of each. Carefully spoon into pretty glasses and refrigerate until required.
Proper English Custard
- 570ml/1 pint milk (whole milk or add some cream to reduced fat milk to same volume)
- 1 vanilla pod or ½ tsp vanilla extract
- 4 eggs, yolks only
- 30g/1oz caster sugar
- 1 level tablespoon cornflour
- Bring the milk (with cream if adding) and vanilla pod to simmering point slowly over a low heat.
- Remove the vanilla pod and scrape the seeds into the milk.
- Whisk the yolks, sugar and cornflour together in a bowl until well blended.
- Pour the hot milk and cream on to the eggs and sugar, whisking all the time with a balloon whisk.
- Return to the pan, (add vanilla extract at this point if using) and over a low heat gently stir with a wooden spatula until thickened. Take off the heat and cover with cling film so that the cling sits on the surface of the custard so that a skin does not form.