Monday, February 25, 2008

Rhubarb fool with orange poppyseed biscuits

This month's 'In the Bag' event features one of my favourite seasonal ingredients: rhubarb. Earlier in the month, I made a delicious rhubarb and ginger crumble with the first of the forced rhubarb but to qualify for this seasonal event hosted by Julia at 'A Slice of Cherry Pie' I needed to incorporate oranges too.

Whilst a crumble is my favourite rhubarb dish, a simple fool is my second favourite. Partly due to the nostalgia aspect of this luxuriously creamy dish - both my grandmother and then my mother made this quite a bit when I was little. Sometimes, it would be rhubarb fool and sometimes it would be gooseberry fool. I'd never made it before and called my mother for the recipe. This is when I discovered that there is not in fact a recipe - it has just four ingredients and you can combine them in pretty much any ratio you wish! You can make a fool just using cream, but I like to make it with a mixture of custard and cream as I prefer the end result.

To go with a fool, I think you always need some kind of biscuit. As I child, our fools were usually accompanied by sponge fingers and there is nothing whatsoever wrong with that. But I decided to make these gorgeous, melt-in-the-mouth orange poppyseed biscuits. A perfect addition!

The basic recipe for these biscuits came from my latest favourite recipe book: Gorgeous Desserts by Annie Bell. I LOVE this book. It is packed full of... you guessed it... gorgeous desserts, including lots of nostalgic items that she has fully revitalised. Think thoroughly modern trifles, stunning and witty jellies, rice pudding made with risotto rice alongside classic sticky toffee pudding and spiced apple pie. She serves these biscuits without the orange and with her version of rhubarb fool.

Rhubarb fool with orange poppyseed biscuits
Serves 4


For the fool:

400g rhubarb

1 heaped tablespoon golden caster sugar

3 tablespoons water

135ml fresh custard (homemade is best, but if you are pushed for time, you can get some reasonably good fresh custard in the chiller isles and my grandmother's version used Birds custard and, you know what, there was nothing wrong with that at all)

125ml double cream

For the orange poppyseed biscuits:

75g plain flour

25g golden caster sugar

60g unsalted butter, diced

pinch of sea salt

1/2 tablespon poppyseeds

grated rind one orange

1 medium egg yolk

a squirt of orange juice (if needed)

1. Start by making the biscuit dough. Put all the ingredients except the egg yolk and orange juice into the food processor and whizz until the mixture resembles bread crumbs.

2. Add egg yolk to bind mixture together. If it does not start to bind, add a little fresh orange juice until the mixture just begins to hold together (I probably needed around 1 tablespoon).

3. Make a ball of the mixture, wrap in cling film and place in fridge for an hour.

4. Meanwhile, make the the fool. Chop the rhubarb into 1cm pieces and place in a large saucepan along with the sugar and water. Heat gently for 10-15 minutes until soft and pulpy.

5. Turn off the heat and pour into a clean mixing bowl to cool down (if you leave it in the pan, it will take longer to cool down. Taste and adjust sugar if necessary (remember that the custard will also be sweet).

6. Pre-heat oven to 180C. Remove biscuit dough from fridge, knead until pliable and then roll out thinly on a floured surface - about 2mm thick (or thin).

7. Oil a baking tray. Cut the biscuits out with a 5cm cutter (remember to dip into flour between cutting each one, to prevent sticking). I also made some star-shaped biscuits as I couldn't resist! Place them on the oiled baking tray.

8. Bake biscuits in oven for 9-12 minutes, until golden. Cool on the baking tray.

9. Combine the fool ingredients. Beat the cream until soft peaks form and then mix together with the custard. Fold in the now-cooled rhubarb, keeping a tablespoonful to one side to decorate. You can either combine fully for an even flavour, or fold lightly for a pretty, marbled effect.

10. Spoon into glasses and serve with the biscuits.

Notes - Adjust the ratio of rhubarb/cream/custard/sugar to your taste. You make like it sharper. Or sweeter. More creamy. More custardy. Entirely up to you.

The biscuits are quite delicate, so handle them carefully!


Julia said...

I'm loving those poppyseed biscuits! Great entry, thanks so much!

Anonymous said...

This looks lovely Antonia. I bought some rhubarb yesterday, mainly because I couldn't resist the colour and have been wondering what to do with it. I quite fancy making some muffins but I think I'll give this a go too.

Antonia said...

Julia - Thank you. They are really moreish those biscuits and have a really lovely, crisply buttery texture. They smelt wonderful whilst baking too.

Ginger - oooh - rhubarb muffins? Now those sound really good. Yum! I'll swap you some fool for some muffins?!

Rosie said...

This is a beautiful dessert entry Antonia and those poppy seed biscuits look delicious! I am also enjoying "Gorgeous Desserts by Annie Bell" but as yet I’m still in the reading process.

I keep meaning to enter into this food event of Julia's but seem to keep missing it!

Rosie x

superluckykitchen said...

YUM! love rhubarb, i cant wait for spring

nicisme said...

These look really great Antonia. I am going to have to try those biscuits soon!

Pixie said...

I need a few of your biscuits for my rhubarb fool! Yours sounds wonderful. I do have that book and I must have a good read through....there are just so many to look at!

Antonia said...

Rosie - thank you. I hope you enjoy the book as much as I have been. There are so many events I want to participate in and it is hard trying to fit them all in! I still haven't made that wonderful Sussex Pond pudding (I couldn't work out a way to make it in mini-version for one, so need to wait until I have guests!). Rest assured though, I havne't forgotten about it!

Superluckykitchen - hello! Thank you for stopping by. We are so lucky to get some early forced rhubarb at this time of year - just delicious.

Nicisme - do give them a try. I am enjoying one right now, as it happens.

Pixie - oh - just seen your rhubarb fool and it is so much prettier than mine! I slightly wish I hadn't mixed all mine together. Did you come around to rhubarb in the end?

Nan said...

Spring is coming, yay! Your fool looks the cute biscuit stars.

Scott at Real Epicurean said...

Yes! Rhubarb fool is just the ticket and makes an appearance in my kitchen each year!

Antonia said...

Nan - thank you for stopping by. Hope that spring is on the way ... glancing outside it is rather dark and damp today, but I can see a few daffodils in the garden now which is cheering!

Scott - so simple but utterly delicious. That is what I love about it!