Oscar Wilde and Rhubarb Tarts

gazing out over the garden with some freshly baked rhubarb tarts.
And so it begins.  

Thoughts about blogs have been swirling in and out of my head for the past bit, but it hasn't been until lately that all those fleeting thoughts have materialized into something more solid, so here we go!

I am very much a prairie girl, being just as much mesmerized by large fields of sunlit wheat as by very large mountains or dense forests.  There is just something so very lovely about vast, never ending expanses of space.  So, I feel it's rather fitting that this blog begins with rhubarb, one of very few fruits that actually survives here.
I'm involved with our local fruitshare and as a result spent a very calm, peaceful evening picking rhubarb.  I adore rhubarb and could not have been happier to have come home with such a large bundle.

glowing in the evening sun.

   After spending a morning making jars of compote and reading Dorian Gray, there was still a very large amount left.  What to do with it?  True to form, after spending an evening looking through recipes I spied this one.  Generally I am quite wary of tarts.  My oven hates tarts.  It will acceptably bake every flavour of cupcakes, fluffy angel food cake and any kind of cookie, but it refuses to bake pies, galettes and tarts.  I have tried hundreds of pie crust recipes with every kind of ingredient and the result is always a rather annoying mix of burnt bottoms and undercooked centres.

glistening with melted brown sugar.
   For some still unknown reason I decided that this recipe was going to be different.  I love Smitten Kitchen.  Her recipes are always divine looking, but my oven was unaware of all of this, and I was afraid it would remain uncooperative.  Miraculously they turned out beautifully.  The thin cornmeal crust was light and perfectly golden, no burnt bottoms in sight!  Hooray!  This may very well become the pie crust for everything now.

rhubarb filling gets spooned into the centre of each little circle and the edges get carefully folded up into sweet little pies.

just lovely.
My recipe is almost entirely the same as the one from Smitten Kitchen.  However, a few things have been swapped around, mostly as a result of one's kitchen not being entirely stocked at 9:30 p.m. on a holiday...
The original recipe called for corn flour.  I had none so this became an increase in the amount of all purpose flour and corn meal involved.  If you do have corn flour use 1 cup and reduce the flour to 1 cup. and the cornmeal to 1/2 cup.  I also swapped the cream for skim milk, still flaky, delicious and slightly more healthy.

Again, no vanilla beans were floating around my kitchen cupboards, so I left them out.  However, if you happen to have some lying about add 1/2 a vanilla bean, with seeds scraped at the beginning of making the compote, and remove at the end, I'm sure it would taste even more beautiful!

Rhubarb Tarts
modified from smitten kitchen which was adapted from Good to the Grain
1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup fine cornmeal
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 cup cold butter, cut into small pieces (if using unsalted butter add 1 teaspoon of salt to dry ingredients.)
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons skim milk
2 egg yolks
1 batch Rhubarb Compote (recipe below)

Cut the butter into the dry ingredients using a pastry blender or your fingers until the consistency of bread crumbs.  Stir the eggs and milk into the mixture and mix gently.  Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead into a single ball.

Divide dough into 10 even balls and flatten each piece of dough into a five inch circle using the heel of your hand and gently pressing out the edges with your fingertips.

Place three tablespoons of the rhubarb compote into the centre of each piece of dough and fold us the edges, overlapping as you go around the circle.

Carefully transfer the tarts to a baking sheet using a spatula.  Either line the baking sheet with parchment or lightly grease it with butter to keep the tarts from sticking.  Place in the freezer and freeze until firm, at least one hour or up to two weeks, tightly wrapped.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees and bake from frozen for approximately 30 minutes, or until the tops are lightly golden and the bottoms are golden brown.  Serve warm, with the bubbling rhubarb or at room temperature.  They can be stored up to two days in an airtight container or can be kept in the freezer until needed and baked on a whim!  Makes 10.

Rhubarb Compote

3 1/2 cups of rhubarb stalks, chopped into 1/2 inch pieces
1 cup minus one tablespoon brown sugar

Place three cups of rhubarb in a medium saucepan with the brown sugar.  Heat on medium low, covered, for 15 minutes.  It will thicken and trade its lovely pink colour for a rustic red-brown. 
Uncover and turn up the heat to medium.  Cook for another 15 minutes or so, or until the rhubarb is soft, thick and entirely broken down.  Add in the remaining rhubarb, pour in a bowl (or multiple bowls to cool faster) and place in the fridge to chill. 

The compote lasts for up to one week in the fridge and is also delicious on yogurt!

Serve on lovely little vintage plates on a sunny afternoon and eat while leisurely reading The Picture of Dorian Gray and watching the world meander by!


  1. oh, this all looks wonderful! i'm so happy you started this little blog. please please please keep it up!

  2. yay, yay, yay! I am terrible at following blogs, but this will be a joy and pleasure!