Here’s a dessert that is reminiscent of that English classic, the Bakewell Tart, which combines almond cream (aka, frangipane) with raspberry jam in a shortbread crust. My version swaps the raspberry for strawberry preserves and adds two extra elements: a Cheesecake Cream layer and poached-just-until-tender rhubarb segments. The tricky part is to poach the rhubarb so that it is just tender, but still holds its shape and has not begun to turn mushy (which can happen very quickly). It helps if you can get stalks that are all about the same size, so they will be done at the same time. The poaching method below based on one used by Gigi Ramirez, Pastry Sous Chef at the French Laundry, and it’s a winner, because it relies on residual heat for the cooking process, which allows for more control. If you don’t have a rectangular tart pan, feel free to use a 9-inch round one, cutting the rhubarb to fit.
Makes one 14 x 4-inch rectangular tart, serving 6 to 8
- 1 ½ cups (195 grams) all-purpose flour
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 9 tablespoons (127 grams) unsalted butter, cut into ½-inch cubes and frozen for 15 minutes
- 2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
- ¼ cup ice-cold water
Poached Rhubarb Topping:
- 5 rhubarb stalks, washed
- 1/2 cup (125 grams) grenadine syrup
- 1/3 cup lemon juice
- 5 cups (1180 grams) water
- 1 1/2 cups (300 grams) granulated sugar
- Peel from 1/2 lemon
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 7 tablespoons (100 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1/2 cup (100 grams) granulated sugar
- 1 cup (100 grams) almond flour
- 2 large (100 grams) eggs
- 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon (10 grams) all-purpose flour
- ¼ plus 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 1/8 teaspoon almond extract
- ¼ cup (80 grams) strawberry preserves
- ½ cup (116 grams) heavy cream
- 4 ounces (113 grams) cream cheese, at room temperature
- ½ cup (121 grams) Greek yogurt
- 1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon confectioners’ sugar
- 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
- Toasted almonds, chopped
Make the tart dough:
- Put the flour and salt in the bowl of a food processor and process for a few seconds until blended. Scatter the butter cubes over the flour and process until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir the lemon juice into the water, add it to the flour mixture and process until the mixture just starts to come together as a dough (don’t over-process). Turn the dough out onto a work surface, shape it into a 4-inch square, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour.
Poach the rhubarb:
- Trim the rhubarb stalks to fit the width of your tart pan (4 inches, unless your pan is slightly wider). Place the rhubarb in a 9 x 13-inch baking pan (Pyrex is perfect) arranging them in a single layer.
- In a medium-size pot, combine the remaining ingredients and bring to a boil over high heat. Remove from the heat and then carefully pour the syrup over the rhubarb. Cover the pan with a large piece of foil and allow the rhubarb to steam for 10 to 15 minutes, or until it is tender, but still holds its shape (not mushy). Remove the foil and let it cool completely. Once it has cooled, you can reserve the rhubarb in the syrup in the refrigerator until ready to use.
Line the tart pan:
- Place the dough on a lightly floured work surface and sprinkle with some flour. Roll the dough out to a 16 x 6-inch rectangle that is about 1/8-inch thick. Place the dough into a 14 x 4-inch fluted tart pan with a removable bottom and press it onto the bottom and up the sides. Run a rolling pin over the top of the pan to remove the excess dough. Prick the bottom of the tart shell with a fork at ½-inch intervals and freeze until it is firm, about 20 minutes. Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 400˚F.
Blind bake the tart shell:
- Line the tart shell with a piece of parchment paper, letting it overhang the edges by 1 to 2 inches, and then fill it with pie weights, beans or rice. Place the pan on a baking sheet and blind bake the tart shell for 20 minutes. Remove the parchment paper and weights and continue baking the shell until it is fragrant and just beginning to brown on the edges, about 8 to 10 minutes longer. Place the tart pan on a wire rack and allow to cool. Reduce the oven temperature to 350˚F.
Make the Almond Cream:
- In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix the butter and sugar together at medium speed until well-combined and smooth, about 2 minutes. Add the almond flour and mix until combined. Add the eggs one at a time, making sure to blend well after each addition. Add the flour, salt and almond extract and mix until combined. Scrape the cream into the cooled tart shell and smooth it into an even layer.
Bake the tart:
- Place the tart pan on a baking sheet and bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until the Almond Cream is golden brown, and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Place the tart pan on a wire rack and cool completely.
Make the Strawberry Layer:
- Once the tart has cooled, spread the preserves over the top in an even layer.
Make the Cheesecake Cream:
- In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the heavy cream to firm peaks. Transfer to a small bowl, cover and refrigerate until ready to use.
- Wash and dry the mixer bowl and put the room temperature cream cheese in it. Using the paddle attachment, mix the cream cheese at medium-low speed until very smooth, about a minute. Add the Greek yogurt, confectioners’ sugar and lemon zest and mix for another minute, or until well blended, scraping down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula as necessary. Remove the bowl from the mixer stand and gently fold the whipped cream into the cream cheese mixture.
- Spoon (or pipe) the cream over the top of the tart, covering the Almond Cream completely. Refrigerate the tart for 30 minutes to firm up the cream.
Assemble the tart:
- Arrange the poached rhubarb slices on top of the cream, covering it completely. Sprinkle some toasted chopped almonds over the top of the tart. Serve right away or refrigerate until ready to serve.