Springing from the ground as early as February (though ‘forced rhubarb’ grown in heated, darkened sheds in Yorkshire may appear in shops in winter), rhubarb provides a bountiful crop through to July – no garden should be without one. The leaves are toxic, containing oxalic acid, so are always removed. The stalks are delicious simply stewed with sugar as a miraculous breakfast pick-me-up or used in crumbles and pies.
- 50g rhubarb, cut into 5cm batons
- 10 cardaomon pods, cracked
- 300ml chilled custard
- 300ml double cream
- 175g caster sugar
- Preheat the oven to 160°C/325°F/Gas mark 3 and line a baking tray with baking parchment.
- Put the rhubarb and cardamom on the baking tray and sprinkle over 75g of the sugar.
- Bake for 15–20 minutes, or until the rhubarb is soft and tender.
- Remove from the oven and carefully pour any excess liquid through a sieve into a saucepan. Discard the cardamom pods.
- Place the saucepan on the stove over a high heat and boil to reduce to a thick syrup. Remove from the heat and stir in the cooked rhubarb and the remaining sugar.
- Place in the fridge until fully chilled.
- When ready to serve, remove the custard and rhubarb from the fridge and combine in a bowl. Whip the cream to soft peaks and carefully fold it into the rhubarb and custard to create a rippled effect. Serve in bowls with a piece of shortbread.