This simple but delicious dish is based on a recipe by Louisa Carter. I have added Sweet Cicely to the Rhubarb when it is cooked, simply because I am a huge fan of this fabulous herb; so pretty in the herb garden with its pretty, fern-like leaves and creamy blossoms in May and June, so beloved by the bees. But most importantly, the leaves, with their mild Anise flavour actually reduce the tartness of sharp fruit if placed in the pan whilst the fruit is being cooked.
So the last bonus with this herb is that you get to feel like a Medieval Herbalist, or a Witch and use less sugar into the bargain! But the recipe works just as well without the herb.
You can make this recipe with Rhubarb at any time that it is in season, but if it is not forced, it will require more sugar.
The crumble topping is amazing! It is cooked separately then kept in an airtight container and can be used on ice cream. It is so crisp and crunchy. I often make the full amount, but if I am only feeding two people I freeze the remaining fruit and the raw crumble mix and have the ingredients at hand for making a super quick dessert next time that I need it.
50 grams caster sugar (or more, according to your taste)
600 grams forced Rhubarb, cut into 5cm lengths
A bunch of Sweet Cicely (say, 10 short stems)
500 gram tub of fresh custard
FOR THE TOPPING
70 grams butter
60 grams Demerara sugar
For the crumble topping-
- Heat the oven to200 degrees C/ fan oven180 degrees/Gas mark 6
- Rub the butter into the flour in a large bowl, and then stir in the sugar. You can pulse this in a processor, but only do this very briefly to mix.
- Spread the mixture in a thin layer on a baking tray and sprinkle with a teaspoon of water.
- Bake in the oven for 15 minutes or until golden (watching it carefully, so that it does not go too brown) Leave to cool.
For the fruit
- Place 3 tblps of water in a pan with the sugar and heat until the sugar is dissolved. Add the Rhubarb and the Sweet Cicely (if using, you can reduce the amount of sugar used)
- Cover the pan and cook for 5-7 minutes, until it is tender but still holding its shape. You may need to add a little more water to the pan. Allow to cool. Squeeze out the juices from the Sweet Cicely if used and check for sweetness, adding more sugar if necessary.
- If you have too much juice, remove the Rhubarb from the pan with a slotted spoon and re-heat the juices until they are reduced down and thicker.
- When totally cooled, divide the fruit between 6 glasses, top with custard and sprinkle with the crispy crumble topping.