Great Dixter rhubarb tart

  • Serves 8
  • Easy

Discover the recipe for rhubarb tart from Great Dixter House and Gardens.

Rhubarb tart

Great Dixter in Northiam, East Sussex, is one of Britain’s most famous gardens, celebrated for is exuberant flower borders. It was the family home of gardener and gardening writer Christopher Lloyd.

Now a book by Aaron Bertelson reveals the fruit and vegetables grown at the east Sussex garden, and the delicious recipes cooked there.

Aaron rolls the sweet shortcrust pastry
Aaron rolls the sweet shortcrust pastry


For the sweet shortcrust pastry

  • Plain flour 275g (100oz), plus extra for dusting
  • Ground almonds 50g (2oz)
  • Icing sugar 120g (4oz)
  • Unsalted butter 175g (6oz), cold, and diced
  • Egg 1
  • Almond extract dash
  • Cold water 2-3tbsp

For the tart

  • Butter for greasing
  • Sweet shortcrust pastry 1, chilled
  • Flour for dusing
  • Rhubarb 1kg (2lb), chopped into 5cm (2in) pieces
  • Demerara (turbinado) sugar 2tbsp
  • Caster sugar 120g (4oz), plus extra for sprinkling


For the sweet shortcrust pastry

  • Step 1

    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.

  • Step 2

    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.

  • Step 3

    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 the tart

  • Step 1

    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.

  • Step 2

    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.

  • Step 3

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

  • Step 4

    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.

  • Step 5

    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.

  • Step 6

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

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