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rhubarb tart

I hadn’t planned on buying rhubarb yesterday morning, but I was at the stand of my favorite producteur and there it was, and there I was, so our collective fate was sealed.

As I waited for him to wrap my stalks tightly in brown paper, my mind raced to think what I would do with them. By the time I handed over a couple of euros, I’d made up my mind that they’d make a fine filling for the baked tart shell I had waiting at home, with a thin layer of lemony pastry cream.

It’s been odd around here lately. I think there’s something in the air; le morosité of Paris, as they call it, the general malaise that smacks the city in a collective wallop, like the tiny, sharp grains of pollen that are wreaking havoc on the sinuses of us all. Yes, it’s warmed up and the city is even more beautiful, but a string of May holidays has Parisians bolting for the borders, heading away for le petit weekend any chance they can. There’s just something odd in the city that I can’t quite put my finger on.

rhubarb & strawberries rhubarb compote

As a result, I’ve been engaging in all sorts of dubious behavior lately, making me question my sanity. Last week I was doing things like running the dishwasher when it’s only three-quarters full, or…get this…cleaning my freezer at 7:04am. And one recent morning I actually got dressed before noon. Yes, before noon. Well, you get the picture, folks. I think I’m ready for la maison des noix.

So yesterday I made an appointment for a spa day (well, my ship hasn’t quite come in yet, so for now it’s gonna have to be a half-day) which seemed like a great idea so I barreled my way through the harrowing crowds on the streets of the Marais, a magical place where people lose sense of time and place, and the idea of walking in a straight line is come bizarre concept that eludes the masses. Something seems to happen to people when they enter that quartier; the rest of the world magically vaporizes and it’s as if no other person exists but them.

In my haste to avoid being crushed, or bruised by gold chains on jeans, slashed by a zipper on an errant backside, or blinded by sunglasses where the D&G logo dwarfs their well-tanned ears, I passed a store window and saw the shoes of-my-dreams inside, which cost roughly the same amount as the few hours of horizontal, oily bliss I was planning on having later this week.

Hmmm, let’s see. Twin pieces of leather and lace that will thrill me for years? Or a chance to lie on a table, flip over my Etch-A-Sketch of the past few months, give it a good shake, and turn it right-side-up again?


It was a tough call, my friends. Thankfully the shoe store was closed, so over to the hamman I went to make an appointment for the rendez-vous. (All bets are off if I pass the shoe store again en route to my appointment…I might have to detour around the magasin des chaussures.)

So, back to my market haul. When I got home, I was thinking of what would be the best way to exploit the tangy flavor of rhubarb and the fact that when cooked, rhubarb almost does all the work for you by thickening beautifully. So I washed the dirty stalks, cut them into bâtons, and baked them with some strawberries that were so ripe and rouge, that they looked positively hostile if I didn’t use them right then and there.

(I don’t know if it’s me, or if I’m paranoid, but thinking even the strawberries are giving you the evil eye makes me think that I should definitely opt for the spa appointment. For the safety of all, the shoes, I think, better wait.)

The fruit got stewed in the oven, and tasted great, but when I smeared it over a layer of pastry cream in the tart shell and grabbed my camera, all I could think of when I looked through the viewfinder was one thing: pizza. For some reason, the whole thing just didn’t come together like I thought it would. Which paralleled the way the last few weeks didn’t quite come together like I thought they would either.

rhubarb & strawberry tart

And sure enough, the friend I invited for a low-key dinner last night, the first words out of her mouth when she saw it were, yup…you guessed it: “Hey, pizza!”

I’m not giving up on this recipe yet. But tasting it, for some reason, the whole thing just didn’t come together. The tart shell was delicious and buttery, and pastry cream nice and smooth, and the rhubarb filling tasted great. In the future, I think it would make a great base to a tart with fresh raspberries placed across the surface or even as a compote with yogurt. Yet for now, like those shoes, I’m calling it quits.

But if you see a crazed-looking man racing through the streets of the Marais, the only one walking in a straight line, with his shoulders well-above his ears, wearing a new pair of black lace-up shoes, I don’t recommend stopping him for a chat. He’s probably in need of a good massage. Or maybe just in search of a better rhubarb tart recipe.

Rhubarb-Strawberry Compote/Tart Filling

Enough for one 9-inch (23cm) tart

I used muscovado (raw) sugar, since when there’s so few ingredients, it’s nice when each one can contribute something to the mix. You could use dark or light brown sugar in it’s place.

If you’re the kind of person that likes to tinker, a little freshly grated orange zest would be nice, or try a cinnamon stick baked with the fruit. You could swap out raspberries or blackberries for the strawberries as well.

4 stalks (1-pound, 450g) rhubarb, washed and trimmed
10 blushing-red strawberries (6 ounces, 180g), hulled and quartered
1/2 cup (120g) muscovado sugar
juice of half a lemon
1 tablespoon kirsch, or another liqueur

Preheat the oven to 375F (190C).

1. Slice the rhubarb lengthwise in half, and cut into 3-inch (8cm) bâtons. Mix in the baking dish with the strawberries and remaining ingredients.

2. Cover the dish tightly with foil and bake for 20 to 30 minutes, until the fruit is soft and fully cooked through.

3. Remove the foil, reduce the heat to 325º and bake for 10 more minutes.



    • just_visiting

    “There’s just something odd in the city that I can’t quite put my finger on.”

    It’s the revolution coming. :)

    • Pascale

    A little meringue on top maybe ?

    • Maureen in Oakland

    Well you could have fooled me. I saw the photos on flickr earlier and they looked nothing like pizza, but a nice red strawberry rhubarb tart.

    I have never been brave enough to face the scrub down at a hammam, but I have been tempted, as I generally enjoy these things. I will be there in two weeks. Maybe I will give it a shot. Do you have a favorite?

    I hope the malaise lifts soon. Maybe a good storm will clean out the air.


    • Dana

    I tried to make a strawberry rhubarb crisp over the weekend. It turned out to be strawberry rhubarb soup with crisp topping melted into it. It still tasted spectacular, so I’m not giving up on rhubarb anytime soon! You shouldn’t either.

    • Guy Lesperance

    I would like to suggest two additions to enhance the tarte and add contrasting levels of flavors. First, paint your baked tart shell with a thin layer of chocolate ganache. Second, a layer of gingered creme anglaise. The combination is fantastic.

    • Dana

    I tried to make a strawberry rhubarb crisp over the weekend. It turned out to be strawberry rhubarb soup with crisp topping melted into it. It still tasted spectacular, so I’m not giving up on rhubarb anytime soon! You shouldn’t either.

    • Guy Lesperance

    I would like to suggest two additions to enhance the tarte and add contrasting levels of flavors. First, paint your baked tart shell with a thin layer of chocolate ganache. Second, a layer of gingered creme anglaise. The combination is fantastic.

    • adrian

    ‘la maison des noix’? precious! i’d fall over laughing if’n I wasn’t sitting down.
    and yup, my first thought at seeing the pictures: pizza!

    • Prue

    I think it looks and sounds delicious. I love Guy’s suggestion of a ginger creme anglaise – YUM! I have only ever made rhubarb compote or rhubarb crumble.

    Regarding the shoes, go for lunch with someone, drink champagne and then go shopping. Drinking champagne at lunchtime has an extraordinary effect on the behaviour of one’s visa card.

    In fact, for a long time I’ve thought, if I ever owned a retail store, there’d be obligatory champagne on entry. Maybe champagne would lift the Parisian malaise?

    • Mama JJ

    Your crazy feelings are understood. Totally. It’s raining here, AROUND THE CLOCK. I think I may soon sprout some fins and gills and a pea-sized brain—I’m going nuts.

    And I’m swimming (ha!) in rhubarb. Found a splendidly simple and elegant rhubarb pie, and some punchy rhubarb jam. A rhubarb sorbet is the next thing on the agenda.

    Spreading your tart with billows of whipped cream and garnishing with strawberries would eliminate all thoughts of pizza—that’s my guess. I’d eat it in a heartbeat.

    • Mama JJ

    Do you have a recipe for pastry cream?

    • Reuben Morningchilde

    David, your post made my day!

    I am still smarting from the (tiny) disaster that was saturday’s rhubarb and straberry tapioca. Which tasted lovely, but looked… well, it looked just the way I remember it from my childhood, like pink frogspawn.

    My wife and her father left the table in protest.

    So, you can imagine your post made me smile. A lot. On a monday morning.
    That’s one heck of a talent you’ve got there.

    And by the way, I think the tart looks like it tasted great, pizza or not. So, in my eyes, it did look great.

    • American in London

    London is also suffering from the same uneasy feeling. Don’t tell anyone though, the English and French don’t need anythinge else to bicker about.

    • Laurence

    Really?? Looks damn good to me.

    • krysalia

    the pizza style is interresting anyway, I think if the taste has been right you could have tried to even enhance the style with some ganache fake black olives, and white chocolate mozzarella bites ? :D

    About the malaise, the strange feeling, I feel it too in my small nothern town. There’s something in the air, I mean, in the time. I hope this is revolution as your first commenter here, but I bet this is only le coup de frein, the slow motion process of the economy and the humor, due to world situation right now.

    Last time I felt this kind of general ambiant wierdness, if was several weeks before TTDSL* election here. what I really hope is that the change that’s coming won’t be even worse that what we already have.

    *The Tiny Disgusting Self Lover

    • Arabella

    Great post, especially on a rainy Monday morning … I am very amused by your perseverance in still trying to figure out “les parisiens”. Your Tarte Fraise Rhubarbre made me feel nostalgic about my french Mami.

    ciao, Arabella

    • Mrs Redboots

    I absolutely loathe rhubarb, but my husband adores it, so I do, occasionally, buy some and cook it for him. My mother has always shown me to cook it in the juice of an orange, with a tiny piece of the peel added to the mixture – I wouldn’t know if that would make it nicer, though.

    Sorry your tarte didn’t quite work. That base looks lovely.

    • rebekka

    I love how you even post your “fail” recipes. It gives us hope! But I think it looks jammy and delicious. Of course, I’ll take your word for it!

    • nyc/caribbean ragazza

    I saw rhubarb at the market over the weekend. I’m thinking of making strawberry rhubarb tartletts. However, I will cheat by using puff pasty sheets you buy in the freezer section. Not sure why I have this fear of baking pastry/pie crusts.

    • Loulou

    La maison des noix. Priceless!

    It does look a bit like pizza, but the recipe sounds delicious.

    • Michelle B

    My favorite post so far (which is saying a lot). Has a slight Proustian flair to it.

    Was going to suggest piped little decorative mounds of whipped cream but then realize it would just make it look more like pizza by mimicking blobs of mozzarella.

    I know you called it quits but how about sandwiching the rhubarb/strawberry filling between two layers of your lovely pastry cream? Then topping the final layer of pastry cream with glazed, halved strawberries? Or a layered parfait: crumbled up crust, pastry cream, and the rhubarb/strawberry mixture?

    • Carl

    It looks good to me! Maybe a dallop of whipped cream on your tart acompanied by several pieces or slices of fresh fruit would not make it look like a pizza? However, it looks very delicious!

    • Sam

    Is there a French equivalent of the expression ‘it all looks the same in your stomach’?

    I actually thought the pizza look was very attractive. It must be one of those eye of the beholder type of things.

    Maybe next time you should add some dried coconut to your strawberry and rhubarb. After spending a couple of years in Australia I learned that coconut goes with almost every dessert flavour (I suspect it would taste horrible with mint or lavender).

    • Chris

    I hardly think that not photographing well constitutes a pastry fail – it seems like a little contrast on top (whipped cream?) would solve that problem. Now if it photographed poorly and tasted bad, THEN it would be a fail in my book! I think it looks very tasty!

    Great post!

    • May Nazar

    Who cares about how it looks (I know you do), but I am sure the tart tastes amazing!

    You could, if you like, cook the rhubarb and spread over the pastry cream, then top the whole tart with halved fresh strawberries. Non?

    • lisaiscooking

    I cooked with rhubarb for the first time ever this weekend. How had I not used it before? So easy, and so delicious.

    • Hilda

    Instead of lemony pastry cream, how about a white chocolate ganache of some sort? and then instead of layering them one on top of the other, how about piping them criss-crossing each other (for example, just thinking off the top of my head here).
    And about the malaise, I totally get what you mean, although I’d be hard pressed to describe it myself. La Maison des Noix is pretty cute.

    • Hilary

    @Maureen in Oakland:
    There’s a new all-female hammam that just opened in the 6th (they have another location in St Denis), it looks totally indulgent maybe give that one a try!

    • Elisa

    I don’t know about the taste, but might it look prettier with slivered almonds (and maybe even a few halved strawberries, upside down) added to the top before the baking, and then a dusting of powdered sugar at the end?

    The combination sounds very tasty, so if you figure out how to tweak it in the right way, taste-wise, let us know!

    • babyjenks

    i just made rhubarb-strawberry compote yesterday! i found a bunch of pinish-green stalks bundled up with a free sign in cambridge and brought them home. i’m going to eat it on yogurt and perhaps mix some in to my morning oatmeal.

    as for the pizza look, you could always call it a desert pizza and say you did it on purpose. dot the surface with blueberries and call it good.

    and what shoes were you drooling over? have any photos for us?

    • babyjenks

    i just made rhubarb-strawberry compote yesterday! i found a bunch of pinkish-green stalks bundled up with a free sign in cambridge and brought them home. i’m going to eat it on yogurt and perhaps mix some in to my morning oatmeal.

    as for the pizza look, you could always call it a desert pizza and say you did it on purpose. dot the surface with blueberries and call it good.

    and what shoes were you drooling over? have any photos for us?

    • Laura

    I’m loving the idea of just tucking into some crust dipped in the pastry cream…leave the rhubarb for a pie! That idea of the ginger cream does sound delicious though. And I agree…unease is all around, NYC as well…

    • Laura

    Maybe try a pie filling version of the recipe over the tart? (chopped rhubarb, strawberries and sugar). Anyway, I think it looks delicious!

    • Tami

    Well, I think it’s great anyways and I’m sure tasted amazing. I think I’ll be making something similar tonight. I think what might have made it look more like what you wanted is if you’d cut the rhubarb into large chunks and then baked them a little less so they held their shape, barely, then just gently laid them on the tart instead of spreading. I’ve done something similar. But look at me, telling the published cookbook author, professional pastry chef how to change his recipe. Haha.

    • Romney Steele

    love that you are willing to post something you don’t think is the pinnacle–yet!
    and champagne to cure all, as Prue suggests-what a wonderful idea!

    My thought would be to cook the rhubarb a little less, so there is more texture
    on top, the meringue layer is also interesting. All in all, I’d eat it in a heartbeat
    just as it is.

    • tom | tall clover farm

    Well David, one man’s failure would be this man’s culinary success. Looks totally worthy of consuming all at once with no regrets. My favorite rhubarb recipe is a good old fashioned, blue-ribbon-winning, state-fair staple: the rhubarb custard pie. As an American, I believe pie-love is part of my DNA, and said pie makes me ever so patriotic. Thanks!

    • Sharon

    Just left Paris, picked up a copy of your book there, thought I’d contribute to stimulating the French economy. I read half of it on the plane home and was laughing out loud. Well done David, a most enjoyable book, looking forward to trying the recipes.

    • simon

    I think it looks great. And it sounds delicious too. Trompe l’œil dishes are all the rage these days anyway – see Thomas Keller’s watermelon and mango “steak tartare” for example. Since you think it looks like pizza, you could push the effect further, perhaps with some shaved white chocolate for the “cheese,” and finely minced mint sprinkled on top for the oregano.

    • Susan

    I attempted a strawberry rubarb pie, a few weeks ago. It was my first experience with rubarb. What a lucky disaster! The rubarb apparently had NO pectin at all and the whole thing was more like a loose compote that self leveled in the pie plate on first cut. I just poured the remaining filling into a jar and kept it, took the pie shell apart and placed it on a cookie sheet rubarb sauce side up and baked it a few minutes and made fruited pasty crisps out of it. They were REALLY good! The leftover filling has been wonderful on toast! Some disasters do work out!

    • Charissa

    I have a recipe from my grandmother that uses the same rhubarb compote, pastry cream (vanilla, not lemon) and a tart shell but what brings her version together (and gets away from that pizza thing) is a layer of meringue, lightly browned and sprinkled with a sparkle of granulated sugar that I always thought looked like baker’s fairy dust. Her recipe calls for less sugar (1/3 cup) which also might help balance the sweetness out.

    • Carrie

    I so thoroughly enjoy your writing style laced with French phrases and witticisms. This post made me feel like a wandering Flaneur, which I LOVE.

    • Lisa (dinner party)

    David, I love that your epic fail looks like my epic success!

    • Lisa (dinner party)

    David, I think it looks beautiful. Your epic fail would be an epic success in my house!

    • simona

    Why cut the rhubarb staks in two lenghtwise? I always cut them 2-3 cm across. They look like small chunks on the tart ( and more recognizable), so less prone to be mistaken for a pizza.
    Still it looks delicious.
    Bon appetit

    • c and c

    I understand, iam visiting my family in Hawaii and even here, 80 degrees, sunny, the warm aloha that i grew up with is fleeting. Maybe, it is within us, just asleep for awhile. Everything is in bloom and our mango tree is even showing signs of life with all its flowers. I am an eternal optimist, and your rhubarb-strawberry tart still brings a smile on my face.

    • HomeRoamer

    Funny, funny, funny post. Sorry it didn’t work out as you’d hoped, but also glad…so you could post it and make me laugh. :)

    PS: I hate rhubarb.

    • casey

    rhubarb mush was something of an affliction in my kitchen until this year, when i made a tart-cake a couple weeks ago. first I soaked the rhubarb in a little orange juice and sugar first–then arranged them in a pretty spiral. the tart was pretty in pink, (oooweee that color!!) but without the mush.

    • Patrick

    What about cutting them into bars instead of triangles? Granted they won’t look as uniform as triangle wedges but they won’t be mistaken for pizza.

    Alternatively, embrace the pizza appearance and make it look even more like a pizza. Slice horizontal rounds of strawberries and pop them on the tart so they look like pepperoni toppings. Fresh strawberry and rhubarb “pizza”.

    • Linda

    Square pan + square slices = not pizza!

    • Susan Dresner

    Just returned from Paris last week (mid-April) and would like to share my (gustatory) experiences; many of the restaurants/shops visited were based on yours/Dorie’s recs so I owe you/your readers;

    macarons/pastry shop: Gerard Mulot/Le Pain du Sucre
    chocolate: Pierre Marcolini
    outdoor food market: Richard Lenoir, the bustle of Sunday shopping – vendor from
    interesting/archiac food stores: Izrael Spices and Detou
    cheese: Barthlemy and outdoor market in Raspail
    restaurants (here we go in descending order):
    Intineraires (new w/imaginative takes on the classics; great)
    La Ferrandaise (robust, flavorful home-style cooking)
    Mon Vieil Ami (lovely food & professional air, and open for Sunday dinner!)
    L’Affriole (creative, fresh-tasting)
    Le Relais de Isle (delightful lunch fused with jazz on Ile de St Louis)
    Chez Dumonet (neighborhood, best cassoulet ever managed to finish)
    Regis Huitres (fun cocktail of oysters & Sancerre)
    Cheapest, best wine store: Caves Bardou (Faubourg st. Denis)

    L’Os a la Moelle (worst dinner anywhere resulting in food poisoning)
    Bistrot Paul Bert (highly lauded in English guidebooks,rude management who seem to detest the Americans who find themselves there (my E15 change from the addition was kept by the arrogant patron)
    L’Atlas (very tired Moroccan cooking; sad surroundings)
    Dehillerin (steep prices for tourists- could pretty much buy anything there in NY for a lot less!)
    Goumanyat (nothing special packaged spices at crazy prices)

    wonderful concerts of baroque & medieval music in small churches, string quartet playing in Sainte Chapelle as dusk turned into night
    a post-Lent parade by costumed children down the streets of Montorgeuil
    discovered a little ‘hood regional place, Le Bistro Gourmand, on Depuis, near Temple, with the best tart tatin EVER

    Serendipty: always, everday, unforgettable encounters with people & places

    • Barbra

    I feel complicit in all of this somehow. But honestly, I think it looks delicious.

    • Steve G

    That’s almost exactly the texture my strawberry-rhubarb tart ended up having, though the fibers in mine were shorter because I cut the rhubarb shorter.

    David, isn’t this how rhubarb always behaves? I.e., doesn’t it melt to goo if cooked for too long? How did you use it at Chez Panisse?

    Next time I make it, I plan to fully cook half the rhubarb with plenty of sugar, and then at the last minute toss in the other half of the rhubarb, cut into 1″ or shorter pieces to maintain some texture.

    • robin pulsifer

    i think le morosite is sort of everywhere right now…somewhere between the doldrums of winter and shedding those heading into an energetic spring. iam absolutely not a baker or preparer of food of any kind but i could literally taste the rhubarb whilst staring at those photos. my mouth was watering! glad at least that the taste was there for you!

    • Mo So

    Here’s something which will cure le morosite, or at least David’s (and likely mine!)

    The following items have been shipped to you by
    Qty Item Price Shipped Subtotal

    ——————————————————————— items (Sold by, LLC):

    1 The Sweet Life in Paris: D… $16.47 1 $16.47

    • Kate

    I applaud that you still post it — I can’t tell you how many things I’ve made (mostly in the last week) that were good enough to eat but not pretty enough to post (of course, you are David Lebovitz and I am a drone who likes to cook). I do, however, love rhubarb, and I will give you a tip from a time before I lost my cooking mojo — rhubarb compote is a perfect foil to panna cotta.

    • Jennifer S

    Thanks for sharing your lovely humanity with us. It’s that weird spring-not quite summer here, too, and the air is strange. It’s good to know we’re not alone in our changing moods and ups and downs culinary. I bought a rhubarb plant on Saturday, and have been scoping out sunny spots in the yard… next spring I won’t have to buy the stalks!

    • Kathy

    Brilliantly funny post, David! Thank you. I, too, made a similar appointment yesterday. Le morosité seems to travel faster than Influenza A (H1N1), but thanks to your post and my appointment, I’m already on the mend.

    • Tom in Seattle

    I love strawberries and I’m crazy for rhubarb any way one cooks it (in fact I sometimes eat it right out of the pot it is supposed to cook in) but oddly, I don’t like the two together. And while I am not that keen on raspberries, I do find that they seem to have an affinity for rhubarb, so I mix the two and it makes a wonderful tart, pie, or whatever you wish to use them to create. So keep playing around, David. And oh, to be back in the Marais again… my partner and I walked for miles through that delightful section of Paris.

    • Lucy

    I am thankful for this recipe because it is reminding me to get on the ball and figure out the things to know about raw sugar and its uses. Thank you David! L

    • Siri

    To me, rhubarb and cinnamon is the perfect combination. I make a simple pie filling just by cutting up 3 rhubarb stalks, placing them in a saucepan with 3 tablespoons of sugar and a couple teaspoons of cinnamon and letting it cook in its own juices until tender and a bit mushy… With a plain pastry crust and a merengue layer on top it’s just sweet enough, but doesn’t overpower the loveliness that is rhubarb tanginess :)

    • Soma

    That looks spectacular! I would love to add some ginger to it…& may be a little bit of spice.

    • David

    Thanks to everyone for jumping in with comments and suggestions.

    It was funny, because the crust, the cream, and the filling tasted so good on their own. But combined, it just wasn’t happening.

    I used to make a tart like this, without the pastry cream, at Chez Panisse and piped clove-flavored cream on top. But I do think the “filling” would make a good base for fresh raspberries, and include maybe a few rings of cream, for good measure.

    A lot of you mentioned cream; so many whipped cream lovers out there! Lots of suggestions for piling it on. I did like the suggestion of skipping the pastry cream and adding a layer of streusel (crisp topping) so I might do that in the future.

    But perhaps I’ll wait til whatever’s in the air to clear, or at least until after my spa appointment this week before tackling it again : )

    (And thanks for all the kind words a few of you left about my new book. I’m planning an upcoming post with a give-away shortly…stay tuned!)

    -x david

    • Margie

    Hey you! Don’t give up on the magical rhubarb. Consider this latest item a part of the learning curve that comes and goes with life. Rhubarb is magical, it says so right there on the stems. ;)

    P.S. Can I finish off that pizza for you?

    • Riva

    What? No snapshot of the shoes?

    • jeremy

    Rhubarb is the new crack. It’s not a new addiction for me, though, as I’ve been a fiend for it ever since I was a wee lad, when my mother would snip those wild stalks from the front yard to transform into her famous rhubarb crisp. Being the rhubarb fanatic and purist that I have become, I personally prefer not to have my tart-sour-uniquely vegetal rhubarb taste diluted by any such strawberries. In any case, I thought I would make a suggestion for achieving a tart like product, without the pizza like persona. Consider Johanne Killeen’s (Al Forno Restaurant; Cucina Simpatica Cookbook) renowned recipe for crostata dough as a base for which slices of rhubarb can be arranged and sprinkled with a good amount of sugar. When baking altogether, in contrast to prebaking a conventional tart shell and cooking the rhubarb separately, the rhubarb slices keep their shape…and thus retain their identity and sex appeal. This remarkable dessert needs only to be served with a dollop of creme fraiche and perhaps a few leaves of thyme sprinkled about for an aromatic counterpoint.

    • jeremy

    Another possibility:
    Utilizing your recipe, changing only the method for cooking the rhubarb…
    Slice the rhubarb into 1/4 inch pieces on the bias. Toss with sugar, pinch of salt, splash of a fruity extra-virgin olive oil. Spread out on a sheet pan and bake (not covered) until soft and cooked through. Allow to cool. Then, with a flat spatula, carefully scoop and lift the rhubarb to transfer to the pastry cream filled tart shell. If you do this with a gentle touch, you will have a dimensional landscape of cooked rhubarb chunks/slices, rather than a puree like substance. Be sure to save the rhubarb syrup from the bottom of the sheet pan to drizzle over the finished tart.

    • sylvie

    “la maison des noix”… Oh David, didn’t you ask a “native” before using this acrobatic translation of nuthouse ?! If the Paris atmosphere has you going batty, cuckoo, losing your marbles, feeling a few essential screws loose, well then you are ready for Sainte Anne (Paris’ psychiatric hospital, or to put it your way la maison de fous ou l’asile) !
    Needless to say, as an 18 years resident of Paris, who finally fled the most beautiful city in the world before really losing it all, I just adore your point of view on french life ! Seen from Bordeaux Paris is heaven, but oh boy I would not want to go back and live there…

    • Claire

    What about a rhubarb and custard tart?

    In the UK at least it’s a classic combo. There are even sweets in this flavour!

    I use a custard rich in egg yolks, made with heavy cream, and arrange lightly roasted strips of rhubarb on the top, then bake the whole thing until the custard is set. Mmm. I want some now.

    • Mac

    Your tart looks delicious. I was looking at the picture of your rhubarb tart for a while and scanning your recipe. I was wondering if it is best to hold back half the content of the strawberries, so they are not cooked. Just cook the rhubarb and the other half content of the strawberries. When the rhubarb/strawberry mixture is cooked and cooling off, maybe you can add the uncooked strawberries that were held back to the mixture. This way the tart will still have remaining strawberry pieces that are recognizable to the eye and people might identify it as a strawberry tart.

    • thecatskillkiwi

    Rhubarb, sweet delicious saucy thing that you are… oh how I love you so, so much so that I am heading out in search of you to make this tart!!

    • Paula Maack

    David, I love the image of you marching down the street in a huff with your shoulders up over your ears, on the way to make your spa appointment. That is such a familiar scene. I have seen that character — in blurred window reflections, with my own scowling face attached! LOL!!!

    Oh, the power of a spa day… Enjoy! You deserve it!!

    And, if you do upgrade your camera and want to sell your old one, send me a ping! I’m interested. :)


    ~ Paula

    • Swan

    It’s the kirsch. I don’t know why I think that but that must be it. I just know :))

    • Jesse Gardner

    This looks delicious!

    • Elaine – The Gourmet Girl

    Having just completed a food battle with rhubarb as one of the secret ingredients, I initially found the ingredient as daunting as you did.
    However, after a weekend of testing, discarding, and testing again, here is what I came up with: Rhubarb 3 Ways; Rhubarb Tequila Shooter, Rhubarb Mash and Rhubarb Salsa. Check them out at
    Don’t give up, the perfect tart is within you!

    • Liz

    Rhubarb compote on cheesecake.

    • Kristin

    You know, it’s funny… I made a similar combination last summer and I couldn’t help but think it tasted medicinal (I ended up pitching it…). Something about my rhubarb/strawberry mixture combined with the cream just didn’t work. I have bailed on the idea and now make a rhubarb-strawberry tart with a crumble topping. It then works with a nice little scoop of vanilla ice cream.

    Who knows?

    • debalina

    May I suggest a banana and rhubarb crisp, an idea I got from Jane Brody’s Good Food Book. There are only sad strawberries available in the markets here, unless you grow your own, and alas,my dog has acquired a taste for them. CoCo, the dog, doesn’t eat the rhubarb however.

    • Lani

    I’ve just gotten ANOTHER huge clutch of rhubarb in my farm share this week and after 4 rhubarb cakes and one compote I am feeling like a tart (pun intended). But being a rather poor and impatient cook, I’m not sure anything you’ve mentioned here is in the future for my latest bunch of rhubarb. Back to the drawing board…

    PS do you go to the place on rue lesdiguirres?

    • David

    Linda: Yes, that happened a while back and I did correspond with both sides on that.

    In short, folks are welcome to adapt published recipes as they wish. One should not copy recipes word-for-word, which can be construed as plagiarism, but saying “adapted from” or “inspired by” is the right thing to do, with a link, if possible.

    On the other hand, magazines are trying to survive in hard times and like newspapers, writers and people who work in test kitchens need to get paid for their work. Cook’s Illustrated is a different model where all their revenue is from subscribers, not advertisers, so their model is ‘paid content’, which they are trying to protect.

    It’s hard to say. Is a link good publicity for the magazine? From what I understand, she modified the recipe substantially, enough to make it different than the published recipe. And that magazine, technically, wasn’t in their right to demand she take it down. And the woman with the blog had done the right thing. I recently wrote an article about Recipe Attribution which goes into this in more depth.

    • Meg

    David, that may qualify as a failure to you but it looks lovely from here. And I have to say that having now tasted the famous English “rhubarb tart” I have plumbed the absolute depths of how bad a rhubarb tart can be. Our next door neighbor is a retired pastry chef and so, presumably, makes it the way it’s supposed to be. Which is, apparently, dry roasted with no sauce or cream and the barest dusting of sugar. It managed to be slimy, stringy, sour and tough all at once. *shudder* Give me a pizza lookalike any day – especially when it has beautiful sweet red sauce that just begs you to dip a finger. Just as well I’m not there!! ; )

    • Jan

    I can’t help but think that you should have milked the whole “pizza look-a-like” thing – grated some white chocolate and sprinkled it all over the top.

    • michaela

    did i forget to mention this shot72157617153961594/ from making my rhubarb-upside down cake makes me think of blood and the knife looks like i stabbed someone.

    i had better luck with rhubarb blueberry compote with biscuits and vanilla-whipped cream.

    • Chris

    Ahh never mind, it usually works well with creme Anglaise though…(ah oui, le paradoxe, je sais..)

    • Den

    Rhubarb brings back childhood memories of springtime in southern Ontario – not really fond memories though.

    My mom would invariably make a pie or compote or some other rhubarb infused concoction that everyone would swoon over….everyone but me.

    I guess I never learned to appreciate the “vile weed”… especially after I saw the dog peeing on the rhubarb patch in the back yard….mmmm, tasty.

    • Laura Flowers

    Weird. Suddenly I’m in the mood for pizza and I haven’t even had breakfast yet.

    • Katrina

    I’m dying for the recipe for your lemony pastry cream! I bought some rhubarb this weekend and plan to make a tart sometime this week.

    • Risamay

    Great piece of writing, and rhubarb tart (despite the striking similarity to a slice of no-frills pizza). But I must say, in addition to the spa day (or in lieu of the shoes), you could use new fourchettes.

    • Risamay

    Great piece of writing, and rhubarb tart (despite the striking similarity to a slice of no-frills pizza). But I must say, in addition to the spa day (or in lieu of the shoes), you could use new fourchettes. That one, as pictured, looks un p’tit, well, chewed.

    • david

    Risamay: That’s actually a vintage fork from Air France, from the 1960s, I think. I have the rest of the set! (Which I think looks a little worse for the wear…too)

    • Risamay

    Ah, ça va then. Je comprends. As you were.

    • Becca

    I’m new to this blog and I’m finding it very addictive! You are very good at what you do! I’m writing this more than a year after you posted this blog, but if you get a chance, try this:
    instead of using a pastry cream, use a sweetened cream cheese and marscarpone filling with vanilla and a little lemon. Drop the strawberries (if you can!) and bake the rhubarb at 400 for about an hour with a cup of sugar, some white wine (I know!) vanilla and thickening – flour or cornstarch. It’s a little different and doesn’t have the strawberries (quel domage!) but it’s really, really good. The wine makes it. The wine makes making it better too :) try it!!

    • April Capil

    David – inspired by your Chocolate Tours, my friend Anne and I did one of our own in September (we decided if we had at least confectionery, chocolat chaud, macarons, pastry, and gelato, it would qualify as the most basic of tours). I had the most FANTASTIC Rhubarb Tart with a Strawberry Coulis and Chantilly Cream at one of the cafes you’ve mentioned on your site – SIP Babylon. It was an almost shortbready-type crust, with the most perfect crumble on top and the rhubarb peeking through – I don’t even think there was any strawberry in the actual tart, just in the sauce on top. To this day, it ranks as the most perfect dessert I’ve ever eaten!! If you could duplicate that, you would have Heaven on a plate.


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