Cake-Off Challenge: Rhubarb & Strawberry Tarts

The first of the Christmas Cake-Off 2010 Challenge Cakes to be tasted on this fine December morning was the rhubarb and strawberry tarts by Nina. The original recipe called for a single, large tart, but our budding baker come chemist decided to down-size and up-booze. “I realised that they would have less time in the oven as small tarts, so I boiled the rhubarb first in red wine. On reflection, I recalled that my previous cake club offering had a disappointing alcohol content, so then I soaked the strawberries in white wine. Overnight.”

Guest Judge, Lord Forrester of Governor’s Bay, had this to say about the tarts:

Very short pastry. A nice tartness between the strawberries and rhubarb, with a hint of Christmas in the jus.

Other comments from the assembled tasters included “The pastry is so light,” and simply, “Yum.”

Vote for Nina’s strawberry and rhubarb tarts in the 2010 Cake-Off Round 1 Poll.


2 cups flour
Rind of 1 orange
Pinch of salt
200g unsalted butter
Some fluid, originally ice water, but things like orange juice or champagne also work well
1 cup sugar
2 tbs tapioca
Pinch of salt
Pinch of nutmeg
2 tsp corn starch
500 g chopped rhubarb
50 ml orange juice, or white wine
500g coarsely sliced strawberries
Some flakes of butter

Dough: in bowl combine flour, orange rind and salt, cut butter in small pieces and cut through flour with 2 knifes. With a cold hand knead, add fluid as needed for all to stick together. Then put in fridge in plastic wrap.

Combine rhubarb, sugar (I usually use less than the 1 cup, because I like it to be a bit sour still, but it is usually pretty sour like that), tapioca and corn starch (I sometimes omit those, you will have a juicy pie then), salt, nutmeg and the orange juice/wine.

Roll out 2 thirds of the dough on a floured surface and put it in a greased 20 cm springform. Fill it with rhubarb and the strawberries on top. Roll out the remaining dough as well and cut out (heart) forms, or alternatively cut into strips and criss-cross them over the pie. Put some butter flakes on top.

Bake 15 minutes at 220C (preheated), and then about 30 minutes more at 180C, until pastry is golden and filling bubbly. Let cool slightly before serving.

For the Christmas bake-off I first applied basic mathematics and instead of 1 big pie, made several smaller tarts. Realizing that the baking time would be less, and the rhubarb thus less well cooked, I decided to first lightly boil the rhubarb in red wine. That in itself was very successful and I cooked all the remaining rhubarb with wine and sugar and preserved it. While doing so I also realized this was already beyond basic chemistry, as I was boiling together intricate and complex molecules: oxalic acid of the rhubarb and tannins from the wine. Both substances play a role in my research, how is that for multidisciplinary baking.

Everything else was according to recipe: rolled out the dough and lined approximately 20 muffin forms with them (difficult), added the mushy rhubarb (it was a little too mushy), the strawberries, topped it off with another piece of dough (heart shaped)and baked it basically as long as I would have the full pie. But: I also soaked large strawberry halves in my favourite white wine overnight, and decorated the tarts with those in the morning.

Published in: on December 7, 2010 at 19:04  Leave a Comment  

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