How to make the perfect rhubarb tart and the common mistakes to avoid

Plus, the perfect custard recipe to go with it
How to make the perfect rhubarb tart and the common mistakes to avoid

Serve warm with lots of creamy custard

Choose the good stuff

Contrary to what you may think, the colour of rhubarb does not affect the flavour. Choose crisp stalks, avoiding ones that look wilted and discard any leaves.

Sweets for my sweet

Rhubarb is a vegetable, not a fruit, and one that needs sweetening. Use the sweetener of your choice - honey, maple syrup or sugar - and be generous. This tart ingredient needs the balance of a sweetener. 

Don't add liquid

Despite appearances, rhubarb releases liquid while cooking so don't be tempted to add liquid to your tart filling. It will be juicy enough.

Avoid a soggy bottom

Darina Allen's tart uses the creaming method for her pastry, and the result is a dough robust enough to withstand the liquid-heavy tart filling. 

Experiment with flavours

Once you have the basic recipe down, experiment with flavour pairings. Rhubarb loves ginger, cinnamon and vanilla, each adding a warming note that rounds out rhubarb's natural flavour. 

Pair with something creamy

A vanilla-heavy custard is ideal, but if that seems like a bridge too far, consider gently whipped double cream, flavoured with vanilla as an accompaniment.

Darina Allen's Cullohill Rhubarb Tart

This is a gem of a recipe – a real keeper. The pastry is made by the creaming method so people who are convinced that they suffer from 'hot hands' don't have to worry about rubbing in the butter.

Serves 8-12


For the pastry:

  • 225g soft butter
  • 50g caster sugar
  • 2 eggs, preferably free-range
  • 350g white flour, preferably unbleached

For the filling:

  • 900g sliced rhubarb (about 1cm thick)
  • 370g granulated sugar depending on whether you are using forced or garden rhubarb
  • egg wash made with one beaten egg and a dash of milk
  • caster sugar for sprinkling

To serve:

  • softly whipped cream
  • Soft dark brown sugar


tin, 18cm x 30.5cm x 2.5cm (7 x 12 x 1 inch) deep


Preheat the oven to 180°C/Gas Mark 4.

First, make the pastry. Cream the butter and sugar together by hand or in a food mixer (no need to over cream). Add the eggs one by one and beat for several minutes. Reduce speed and mix in the flour slowly. Turn out onto a piece of floured greaseproof paper, flatten into a round wrap and chill. This pastry needs to be chilled for at least 2 hours otherwise it is difficult to handle.

To make the tart, roll out the pastry 3mm (⅛ inch) thick approx., and use about ⅔ of it to line a suitable tin. Place the sliced rhubarb into the tart, sprinkle with sugar. Cover with a lid of pastry, seal edges, decorate with pastry leaves, egg wash and bake in the preheated oven until the apples are tender, approx. 45 minutes to 1 hour. When cooked cut into squares, sprinkle lightly with caster sugar and serve with softly whipped cream and Barbados sugar.

Vanilla Custard


  • 5 eggs, organic and free-range if possible 
  • 1 ¼ tbsp caster sugar 
  • ½ tsp pure vanilla extract 
  • 750ml milk


Whisk the eggs with the sugar and vanilla extract. Heat the milk to the 'shivery' stage and add it to the egg mixture whisking all the time. Put into a heavy saucepan and stir over a gentle heat until the custard coats the back of the wooden spoon lightly. Don't let it boil or it will curdle.

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