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Rhubarb bakewell tart

I can't seem to stop buying tulips. But then they are my absolute favourite of all flowers. A few years ago I planted bulbs in pots in the garden, but they never made it further than our resident squirrel's dinner table. This week I chose some pretty white ones to team with some hyacinths, I like that simple combination of blue and white. And the scent of those hyacinths is incredible - I can smell them all over the house. My home is embracing Springtime, I only wish the outside world would catch up.

Today I wasn't working, so I went for a mosey around the Wetherby Antiques Fair. It was pretty quiet and not so many stalls were set up (I suppose as it's the first of the year) but I did buy a few bits of vintage silver cutlery. Once home I thought I'd fit in a little baking. Living in the rhubarb triangle and working in a market garden means that I have forced rhubarb coming out of my ears at this time of year. We've been harvesting and boxing up the pink stuff for the last few weeks and my hands are pretty sore because it's quite slimy and a bit grubby. Each stalk has to be hand cleaned.  My nails are full of ingrained dirt that will not go no matter how much I scrub them and my hands have taken on a dark purply red shade. I saw the poor girl who served me in the supermarket pull her hand back in horror whilst giving me my change the other day. I had washed them three times before leaving work but words can't describe how truly awful they are after a day in the rhubarb tunnel.

On the positive side though, forced rhubarb is divine and I'm lucky to be able to get my hands on so much of it.  I have eaten a lot of crumbles - rhubarb with ginger, strawberry or pear - I do love a good crumble. But it is also nice to try baking some other things with rhubarb. Previously I've made white chocolate and forced rhubarb cake and rhubarb and vanilla yoghurt cake, both of which were utterly delicious.  This time I thought I'd try making a sweet pastry tart with it. Teaming it with almonds to make a bakewell tart just seems so right - a bit of a match made in heaven. And it is. Enjoy. x

Ingredients:

500g forced rhubarb, cut into short lengths

225g caster sugar

1 orange, zested and 2tbsp juice

1 pack sweet shortcrust pastry

150g unsalted butter, room temperature

100g ground almonds

2 large free range eggs

1/4 tsp almond extract

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

50g plain flour

handful of flaked almonds

Method:

^ Preheat the oven to 180 C.

^ Toss the rhubarb with 75g of the sugar then spread over a baking tray.

^ Sprinkle with 2 tbsp orange juice. Roast in the oven for about 20 minutes. Allow to cool.

^ Roll out the pastry to line a 23cm loose-bottomed tart tin.

^Leave excess hanging over and prick the base with a fork. 

^Chill in the fridge for about 20 minutes until firm. 

^ Line with nonstick baking paper and baking beans and bake in the oven for 15 minutes. 

^ Remove the beans and paper, then bake for a further 10 minutes. Trim the edges when cool.

^ Remove the rhubarb from the syrup. Mash half and spread over the pastry.

^ Beat together the remaining sugar, butter, almonds, eggs, almond extract, baking powder, salt and flour until creamy. 

^ Spoon the mixture over the mashed rhubarb, then scatter with the remaining rhubarb, flaked almonds and 1 tbsp sugar.

^ Bake for 45 minutes, or until golden. 

^ Serve with cream or custard - your call.