It’s a staple we all know, love and gobble up whenever offered: a strawberry rhubarb pie with vanilla custard. There’s something as traditional and country living as tennis and Pimms about the whole thing and you know, with this combination, you simply can’t go wrong. As you’ve figured out by now, I love love love celebrating the seasonal changes as they come and go. I relish in buying fresh strawberries when they’re in season, and just as I very seldomly buy pineapples in December here in the Northern Hemisphere, you’d find me hard pressed to ignore a basket of deep red, lush and heavily scented punnet of fresh strawberries in spring. Even though said strawberries had to be rushed in from California because our season is a little behind here in Toronto. They may not be ripe in the fields here yet but my head is usually ripe to bursting ready for strawberries any time at all after April. If your mid morning drinking grandmother firmly believes that it’s twelve o’clock somewhere in the world (so bring me a G&T) then I’m of the belief that it’s Strawberry season somewhere too, so long as it’s warm enough in the garden to sit and eat them outside.
Here’s a little tart with a twist. A twisty tart, if you will. The pastry is light and biscuity, the filling creamy almond and the fresh strawberries so much more, well, Spring than the usual cooked version one typically does. Top it all with a great rhubarb compote and some fresh vanilla custard and your afternoon tea just became a springtime adventure.
A note about the custard: at the beginning of the year a friend kindly brought be a couple vanilla pods back from a trip to Zanzibar and I’ve been jealously hoarding them, waiting for the perfect thing to use them in; one where they are the focus and not hidden by too many other flavours. I’ve made custard plenty times before but never used a real vanilla bean. I guess it just felt like such an extravagance, but let me tell you: it’s true what you’ve heard. It takes the whole dish to a different level, and you can, you really, really can taste the difference. Give it a try!