05 July 2012

Rhubarb Tartlets



Rhubarb. 
There's a bit of a mad dash at my local greenmarket for rhubarb each June through the first week or so of July, to the point where it stresses me out. It worked out nicely then that on a recent Saturday morning, as I had to go into work for a few hours, a friendly neighbor obligingly took on the assignment of bringing home two pounds of the rubiest Rhubarb stalks I'd seen since, well, last summer, for the project of making these little tartlets. 
I had a plan for them dating back to March when I'd grabbed myself a copy of Good to the Grain. I didn't think I needed any more baking cookbooks, especially since my baking has lately been limited amid a whirlwind of personal and professional distractions. There have been a lot of turkey sandwiches and sushi takeout in recent months.  


However, the ethos, I'll call it, of this particular book was unique to my collection. I like the idea of utilizing new types of flour and grain to produce baked goods, and while many of the gluten-free books and websites overwhelm me with their lists of 5 to 7 ingredients all cobbled together to replicate white flour, Kim Boyce's book is quite accessible.


This amazingly easy to mix together and super crispy, tender pastry dough was just the thing to get me back in the baking groove. I was pretty excited to try out some of the treats in this book, given my low tolerance and yet keen desire for all things wheat. Despite the discomfort I just can't seem to give up my beloved bakery treats. I figured any substitution of even a portion of white flour would be an improvement for my small intestines, and so was exhilarated that these tarts tasted just as good as anything baked with pure white flour.  
Rhubarb Tartlets
Adapted from Good to the Grain 
I made two versions of the Rhubarb filling, one following Kim Boyce's recipe for Rhubarb-Hibiscus compote, and another sans hibiscus, adding the traditional strawberries along with a mix of sweeteners and vanilla. The latter is described here, but for something different the hibiscus was nicely fragrant and slightly tarter for those who don't like as much sugar in their fruit desserts. For simplicity sake, I also streamlined the tart dough slightly by removing the addition of corn meal. This worked out well and the tarts still had a nice crunch to them without the corn meal.    


Tart dough: 
1 1/2 cups corn flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon coarse salt
1 stick (4 ounces) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons heavy cream
2 egg yolks

Rhubarb-Strawberry Compote
1 lb. Rhubarb, washed well and cut into 1 inch pieces (depending on thickness of stalks -- the skinnier ones I tend to cut into 2 inch pieces).
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar
zest and juice of 1 lemon 
1 pint Strawberries, rinsed and hulled and cut in half lengthwise


Prepare Tart Dough: 
Combine corn flour and all-purpose flour, sugar and salt in large mixing bowl.  Add cold butter and cut into flour with pastry cutter or two butter knives (or alternately a food processor).  In a smaller bowl beat egg yolks together with heavy cream.  Add egg-cream mixture to flour-butter mixture, till just combined, when you are able to bring dough together in a ball.  Form into a square shape, wrap and refrigerate.  


Prepare Compote: 
Combine Rhubarb, sugars, lemon juice and zest in large saucepan with 1 tablespoon of water on medium-low heat covered.  Continue cooking, stirring occasionally for 10-15 minutes until the rhubarb stalks are soft but not so much that they completely loose their shape. Remove from heat and add strawberries, stirring well to combine.  Let cool. 


Make the Tarts:
With a pastry scraper or knife, cut the dough into 10 equal pieces and roll into balls. Lightly flour a work surface and using either your hand or a lightly floured rolling pin, flatten/roll the dough into a rough circle, approximately 5 inches in diameter. Work quickly and re-refrigerate dough if it gets too warm. Brush excess flour from circles and spoon 3-4 tablespoons of the Rhubarb-Strawberry Compote into the center of the dough. Fold the edge of the dough toward the compote. Slide a pastry scraper or spatula under the tart and transfer it to a parchment-lined baking sheet. Continue with the remaining dough. Freeze the tarts on their tray for at least 1 hour or up to 2 weeks, wrapped tightly in plastic.

Bake the tarts: Preheat over to 375°F. Bake tarts, still frozen, for about 35 minutes or until the edges of the tarts are brown and the rhubarb is bubbling. 


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