This is one of my favourite puds. The combination of the sweet, buttery, indulgent topping and the sharp rhubarb with warming ginger is heavenly.
Adding oats to the crumble is optional and controversial. The purists wouldn’t dream of it, but I think they add interest. If you would rather stick to convention, substitute with flour.
Smothered in hot, thick, creamy custard, this dish has Sunday afternoon written all over it. Eaten cold with a dollop of yoghurt on a Monday evening it’s pretty delicious too. You won’t reach Tuesday with any leftovers...
Lightly butter an ovenproof dish and preheat the oven to 220˚C/200˚C fan/425˚F/Gas mark 7.
Arrange the rhubarb lengths in the bottom of the dish. Sprinkle with the sugar, dot with the butter and sprinkle with the ginger. To make the crumble, rub together the butter, sugar, oats and flour until the mixture has the consistency of coarse breadcrumbs.
It doesn’t have to be an even mix – a few lumps are fine. (If that alarms you, give it a quick blitz in the blender, but add the oats, whole, at the end.)
Gently spoon the mixture onto the rhubarb and bake in the oven for 40 minutes. As it cooks, the rhubarb juices will mix with the butter and bubble through the topping. Leave the crumble to stand for ten minutes before serving.
To make the custard, whisk the egg yolks in a bowl with the caster sugar, using a balloon whisk. The mixture will lighten and the grains from the sugar will disappear.
When you have a light, smooth mixture, add the cornflour and whisk again. In a saucepan gently heat the milk. Scrape in the seeds from the vanilla pod and put the whole pod in too, for good measure.(If you are feeling indulgent you can replace up to half of the milk with double cream.)
When the milk is just beneath a simmer, fish out the vanilla pod and then gently and slowly pour the milk into the egg mixture, whisking continuously.
When you have whisked in all the milk and the mixture is velvety smooth, pour it into a clean pan.
Gently heat the custard, stirring regularly. Don’t let it catch on the bottom of the pan; the intention is to warm it through and allow it to thicken a little – five minutes is perfect.
The longer you heat it, the thicker it will get.
If you are not keen on ginger or find it too spicy, try using a couple of teaspoons of freshly chopped lovage. It’s a great herb and adds a warm flavour to the pudding.
This recipe is from The Allotment Cookbook by Pete Lawrence. Published in hardback by Weidenfeld & Nicolson, available on 4 February 2016. Price £14.99
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