Recipe: Great Dixter Rhubarb Tart

Great Dixter is one of Britain’s most famous gardens, celebrated for is exuberant flower borders. Now a new book by Aaron Bertelson reveals the fruit and vegetables grown at the east Sussex garden, and the delicious recipes cooked there. Here is how to make one of our favourites - the Great Dixter rhubarb tart

Rhubarb tart

Rhubarb tart

Serves: Eight


Preparation: 15 minutes, plus chilling

Cooking: 45–50 minutes


butter, for greasing

1 quantity chilled sweet shortcrust pastry – see below.

flour, for dusting

1kg (2Ib) rhubarb, chopped into 5cm (2in) pieces

2 tablespoons demerara (turbinado) sugar

120g (4oz) caster sugar, plus extra for sprinkling (optional)


Spring rhubarb is wonderfully pink and tender, so you can dispense with the poaching step and put it straight into a pastry case (shell) with a little brown sugar before putting it in the oven. The sugar caramelizes to give an almost toffee-like flavour. Make it the day before so that the flavours have a chance to soak into the pastry, or eat it immediately. Either way, it goes well with cream, custard or ice-cream.

Preheat the oven to 190°C/375°F/Gas Mark 5, placing an oven rack in the lower part of it. Butter a 25cm (10in) loose-bottom tart pan.

Aaron rolls our sweet shortcrust pastry

Roll out the pastry (dough) thinly on a lightly floured work surface and use to line the prepared pan.

If using spring rhubarb, arrange it in the pastry case (shell) and sprinkle with the demerara (turbinado) sugar. If not using spring rhubarb, put the caster (superfine) sugar and 200 ml (7 fl oz) water into a pan and stir together over medium heat until the sugar dissolves. Bring to a gentle boil, then add the chopped rhubarb and simmer for one minute – you don’t want it to lose its shape. Drain the rhubarb, then arrange inside the pastry case.

Place the filled case on a baking sheet and bake on a low oven rack for 40 minutes. Take the tart out of the oven and carefully slip off the outer ring, leaving the tart sitting on the base. Return to the oven on the baking sheet for another 5 to 10 minutes so that the sides get really crisp.

Slide the tart onto a plate and sprinkle with caster sugar, if desired. Let cool to room temperature before serving.

Sweet shortcrust pastry

PREPARATION: 10 minutes, plus chilling


275g (10oz)  plain flour, plus extra for dusting

50g (2oz) ground almonds

120g (4oz) icing sugar

175g (6oz) cold unsalted butter, diced

1 egg

dash almond extract

2-3 tablespoons cold water


Makes enough to line a 30cm (12in) tart pan. 

Put all the dry ingredients into a bowl, then rub in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs.

Make a well in the centre and break the eggs into it. Work them in with your fingers until a dough forms. Add the almond extract and just enough water to make the dough soft, not wet.

Tip the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and shape into a ball. Cover with clingfilm (plastic wrap) and chill for at least 30 minutes, or ideally 1-3 hours, before using.

• FOR MORE delicious recipes from The Great Dixter Cookbook, see the June 2017 issue of BBC Countryfile Magazine, available in shops from 12 May to 8 June.


The Great Dixter Cookbook: Recipes From an English Garden, by Aaron Bertelsen, is published by Phaidon Press, and costs £24.95.