The true origin of ‘April Fool’s Day’ seems unclear although some people think it was created with the start of a new religious calendar. Whatever you believe, we feel that the warmer spring months are certainly a time for celebrating. Longer days, new born lambs and seasonal treats from the garden, are all very welcome. Outdoor rhubarb is ready for the picking along with new potatoes and watercress.
Our indulgent recipe is definitely a once in a while treat. The sharp, acidity of the rhubarb being a perfect foil for rich double cream.
To poach rhubarb you will need:
Pick 750g rhubarb from your garden, local farm shop or independent green grocer, wash & trim into 5 cm lengths
Weigh 150g light brown soft sugar
Zest and juice one orange
Finely chop candied stem ginger to taste
To serve – six people
600ml double cream
Half a teaspoon of vanilla powder
Finely grated zest of an orange or candied zest
A tablespoon of pistachios finely chopped
Preheat conventional oven to 150 C or Gas Mark 2 – poach for 20 minutes
2-oven AGA – slide grid shelf on to roasting oven floor and insert plain shelf over top of dish when poaching rhubarb. Check after 5-10 minutes. Transfer to simmering oven to finish cooking.
4-oven AGA – slide grid shelf along bottom runners of baking oven. Poach rhubarb for 10-12 minutes. Check and transfer to simmering oven to finish cooking if necessary.
Put everything in an uncovered dish and place in oven to poach until rhubarb is tender. Timings will depend on freshness of rhubarb.
Strain juice through a sieve and reserve all the pink syrup. Allow to cool.
Reserve half of cooked rhubarb and finely chop second half.
Whip double cream to soft peak stage. Carefully fold half the cream with chopped rhubarb, orange zest and vanilla. Reserve some for decoration.
Layer flavoured cream with remaining pieces of fruit in serving dishes and top with the whipped cream.
Decorate with a little of chopped rhubarb, zest and pistachios.
Pour syrup into a jug and serve alongside your fruit fools for guests to help themselves.
Get ahead – Rhubarb can be poached a couple of days before you need it. Store covered in fridge. Finish preparing fools and divide into serving dishes a couple of hours before you wish to serve.
– Leftover rhubarb syrup is delicious with ice cream, yoghurt or rice pudding. Or serve with sparkling wine for a rhubarb cocktail.
– Acidic foods like rhubarb should always be cooked in a non-metallic dish to avoid fruit absorbing a metallic taste and baking dish becoming discoloured.