Hello – God it feels like ages since I had the chance to post anything that wasn’t work-related (apart from the pizza last week, and not that its a bad thing to be posting work related stuff, but sometimes I really just like to post what’s in my head at the moment, you know?). Anyhoo – this is what is currently in my head. And stomach. Last weekend we had friends around for dinner, and I felt a bit meh about what I cooked (Why??? I cook all the time and yet last weekend it just wasn’t my best work – argghhh). I don’t know why it was a bit average – except for the dessert which was pretty bloody good – a rhubarb, croissant bread and butter pudding. So I wanted to share it with you, but I had no need for another dessert, so I got thinking about a croissant cake with apples that I posted eons ago, and wanted to give it a whirl with the rhubarb instead – and I have to say I like it even better. It all puffs up when you cook it – and you can then serve it straight away (actually leave it to sit for 10 minutes first) or you can let it cool completely and serve it cold or at room temperature…and you can also re-heat it with a quick blat in the microwave or regular oven. Serve as-is or with a dollop of cream or ice-cream. I have a feeling this is one of those things that is supposed to be a dessert that some of you crazy Americans out there will serve as breakfast…actually, I had a huge piece for breakfast, so fair call…fair call :)PS – state of the nation – Rich sorting out his papers for Victoria university next year (yay!), Henry has moved out into a new flat in Welly (slightly traumatic) and Nick, as is often the way, is in Shanghai!
700g rhubarb, trimmed and cut into 3cm pieces
1/3 cup caster sugar
finely grated zest 1/2 orange
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
5 good quality big stale croissants, each torn into 3-4 pieces
4 eggs plus 2 egg yolks
3/4 cup whole milk
3/4 cup cream
1 1/4 cups caster sugar
1/3 cup flaked almonds
1 tbsp caster sugar
Preheat oven 180˚C (350˚F) and put rhubarb in a single layer in a baking dish. Sprinkle over sugar, zest and vanilla extract and bake for 15 minutes (until tender) then leave to cool. Line the base and sides of a 23cm spring form cake tin with baking paper. (It needs to be a really water-tight spring form tin – if it’s old or a bit gappy/leaky, it’ll leak everywhere and make a mess in the oven). To be on the safe side you might want test your spring form tin by filling it with water first, or put a larger baking dish on the oven rack underneath and keep an eagle eye out!
In a big jug, beat eggs, yolks, sugar, milk and cream until pale. Layer half of the croissants into the prepared tin, covering the base fully. Sprinkle over half of the rhubarb. Layer up with the remaining croissants and top with the rest of the rhubarb in big blobs. Press down gently, but leave a few bits of pointy croissant sticking up – they’ll go lovely and crunchy. Pour the cream, sugar and egg mixture over the croissants, coating everything fully. Leave to stand for 20 minutes and preheat the oven to 160˚C (325˚F). Sprinkle with flaked almonds and sugar and bake for an hour. The custard will probably puff up a little in the oven, then sink when you remove it – this is fine, it will set into a delicious creamy mix with the croissants. Leave to cool for at least half an hour before serving with whipped cream and/or vanilla bean ice cream. Serves 8 – 10.