I have always, always loved recipe books. Books in general, really. When I was younger, I would cycle through the huge shelf of books on my bedroom wall, starting again at the beginning once I had made my way through all of them. I would happily lock myself away for hours at a time, lost in a book. I often carried one with me wherever I went, and I used to read in the car on long trips (I can’t even look at my phone in the car anymore, so I’m not quite sure what happened there).
Recipe books were no different. I remember spending hours sitting at the kitchen table reading recipes and looking at photos. My parent’s recipe book collection isn’t huge, but the ones they do have are now hugely familiar to me. There was one in particular which had full spread photos of different types of beans, seeds, grains etc, with a key on the following page indicating the corresponding names. I would sit and learn them all, until I had memorised every type of grain, bean or chicken drumstick coating.
When I started to take food more seriously than just making and eating the recipes that were familiar to me, the recipe book obsession became more serious too. As soon as I knew that we were going to be staying in NYC for at least the foreseeable future, I slowly started acquiring cook books - buying those recommended to me, getting sucked in at book shops, or sneaking them into the amazon cart for Rich to buy by mistake, so I could deny responsibility for the purchase (if you haven’t tried this before I highly recommend, it’s great fun).
One of the early books that I got, which is still one of my favourites, was the bouchon bakery book. It’s massive, with huge pages filled with beautiful pictures and intricate detailed recipes. I use it often to refer to for basic recipes such as pastry cream, but it also has some insane pastry recipes. If you are looking for a book that challenges you a little, but also is filled with amazing recipes, I highly recommend this! The recipes are super detailed, and the recipes are measured in grams, which makes it super easy to follow. If you haven’t got a kitchen scale yet, just do it. It will change your life. Seriously.
One of the recipes I have been eyeing up since I got the book was one for this brown butter rhubarb streusel tart. The picture in the book is insanely beautiful - a thin layer of rhubarb, cured in grenadine, sits on a thin sweet short pastry. It is surrounded by a brown butter frangipane, and topped with a toasted almond streusel. The moment I saw it I knew I had to try it. And it wasn’t a fail! It turned out amazingly - the brown butter taste is super subtle, the pastry not too sweet, and the streusel rounds it all off and adds a little crunch. Although it seems like a lot of work and different elements (the rhubarb has to cure for 24 hours), most of them can be prepared the day before, meaning you can assemble all the elements and bake the tart on the day you are wanting to eat it. It is slightly time consuming, but totally worth it. I promise.
A few wee notes:
- This recipe looks super intense, but with a little preparation, it is pretty easy to break up the steps. Allow yourself at least 24 hours for the rhubarb to cure and the pastry to rest
- I put the rhubarb on to cure, made the pate sucree, and made and toasted the streusel the day before
- I made this in a quarter sheet pan, as the recipe recommended, but if you don't have one you could most likely use a 9" x 13" baking tray. Quarter sheet pans are a great investment if you don't already have one!
- I prepared the tart in the following steps:
- Put the rhubarb on to cure
- Make the pastry, and rest in the fridge
- Make the streusel
- The next day, Line the tin with the pastry, rest in the fridge, then blind bake
- While the pastry is blind baking, drain the rhubarb and prepare the brown butter filling
- Assemble and bake
Brown butter rhubarb streusel tart
- Makes one 9" x 12" tart -
Recipe from Bouchon bakery
900g (2 lbs, about 18 stalks) young rhubarb, at least 13 inches long
100g (1/2 cup) sugar
120ml (1/3 cup plus 2 Tbsp Grenadine)
375g (2 2/3 cups) flour
46g (1/4 cup plus 2 1/2 Tbsp) icing sugar
94g (3/4 cup plus 1 Tbsp) icing sugar
47g (1/4 cup plus 3 Tbsp) almond meal
225g (8oz) unsalted butter, at room temperature
Seeds from 1/2 a vanilla bean. or 1/2 tsp vanilla bean paste
56g (3 1/2 Tbsp) eggs
Toasted Almond Streusel
60g (1/2 cup) Almond meal
60g (1/4 cup plus 1 Tbsp) sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
60g (2.1 oz) cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
225 g (1/2 lb) unsalted butter
Brown butter filling
75 grams (1/2 cup plus 3 Tbsp) Almond meal
75g (1/2 cup plus 1 1/2 teaspoons) flour
150g (1/2 cup plus 1 1/2 tablespoons) eggs
210g (1 cup plus 1 Tbsp) sugar
75g (1/4 cup plus 2 tsp) whole milk
75g (1/4 cup plus 1 Tbsp) heavy cream
165g Brown butter, warm
- PROCESS -
24 hours before you plan on assembling the tart, trim the rhubarb, removing any stringy parts with a vegetable peeler. Cut it so that it fits longways in a 9" x 13" pan. Place in the baking tray, sprinkle with sugar, and drizzle with the grenadine. Cover the pan with plastic wrap and place in the fridge to cure for 24 hours, tossing every 8 hours or so. Remove from the pan and drain on paper towels.
In a medium bowl sift together the flour, first measure of icing sugar and almond meal.
Place the butter in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on medium speed for 3-4 minutes, until the butter is pale and the consistency of mayonnaise. Add the second measure of icing sugar, and mix for 1 minute, scraping down the bowl part way through. Add the vanilla and mix until incorporated.
Add the dry ingredients and mix until just combined. Add the eggs, and mix until incorporated.
Scrape the dough out onto a lightly floured surface, and use the heel of your hand to smear the dough against the work surface, until it is homogenous and smooth. Shape into a rectangle, wrap tightly in plastic wrap, and rest in the fridge overnight.
TOASTED ALMOND STREUSEL
In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, almond meal and sugar, and toss to combine. Add the butter, and toss to combine. Using your fingertips, rub the butter into the mixture until just combined. Transfer to a container or bag, and allow to rest in the fridge for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 325˚f / 160˚c.
Spread the streusel evenly over a baking tray. Bake for 12 minutes, mixing well with a spatula every 4 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool. Break into smaller pieces using your fingers, crumbling some pieces and leaving others slightly larger. Transfer to an airtight container until ready to use.
In a large saucepan, melt the butter. Begin whisking as soon as it is melted. Continue to whisk until the butter begins to boil. Boil over medium high heat, whisking occasionally, for approximately 5 minutes, or until caramel coloured. Strain through a cheesecloth into a container. Discard the sediment. Weigh out 165g.
BROWN BUTTER FILLING
Do this process while the tart shell is blind baking.
Whisk the almond flour and flour in a bowl to eliminate any lumps.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, combine the eggs and sugar. Mix on medium high for 2-3 minutes, or until pale and thick. Lower the mixer speed to low, and slowly add the milk and cream, mixing until incorporated. Add the dry ingredients and mix until combined. Drizzle in the brown butter, and mix briefly until homogenous.
ASSEMBLY AND BAKING
Preheat the oven to 350˚f / 180˚c. Line a quarter sheet pan with parchment paper, and spray with cooking spray.
Roll out the dough between two pieces of parchment paper, until is is slightly larger than your pan. Remove the top sheet of parchment and lower the dough into the pan. Press it gently against the sides, ensuring there are no thick spots. Remove the top sheet of parchment. Repair any cracks or holes, then trim the dough so that it is flush with the edge of the tin.
Line the pan with a sheet of crumpled parchment paper, then fill to the brim with rice, ensuring that it is pressing against the sides and corners. Bake for 15 minutes, until the dough is set and beginning to go golden, then remove the rice and parchment and bake for a further 15 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove from the oven and cool completely.
Once the tart shell is totally cool, spread half of the brown butter filling on the bottom of the tart, ensuring that is it smooth by using an offset spatula. Arrange the rhubarb, rounded side up on top of the filling, ensuring that there are no gaps between pieces and it fits snugly. Use an off-cut to patch any pieces not quite long enough.
Top with the remainder of the brown butter filling, using an offset spatula to fill in any gaps. It may not necessarily be completely covered.
Bake for 40 minutes,then rotate the pan, reduce the oven temperature to 325˚f / 180˚c, and bake for a further 10 to 15 minutes, or until the filling is set and golden.
Place on a rack and allow to cool completely. Once cool, lift out of the pan and cut into 12 pieces, trimming the edges if desired. Top each piece with the streusel and dust lightly with icing sugar.