Eating custard for breakfast is perfectly fine at any time, right? Not just because we're in lockdown and I'm a) more mindful than ever about food waste b) not having to worry about fitting into my wedding dress any more and c) a terrible person.
When we moved last year, I had to say goodbye to the lovely rhubarb crown I inherited with my last house purchase. That and a Christmas tree were about the only two things that survived the then boyfriend/fiance's scorched earth policy when remodelling my back garden. And it blessed us with many a bowl of crumble and countless jars of jam. Our new back garden is completely paved, save for a small brick planter along one wall which houses lavender and another that has an untamed rosemary bush. So our crumble consumption has dwindled.
However in a fit of patriotism with rhubarb being seasonal, and VE day approaching and no blog post last week, I felt it only right to bless us with rhubarb crumble and custard which in my book far exceeds the humble Victoria sandwich in the canon of British puddings.
Should my mother be reading this, she'd no doubt pass out on reading that I actually eat my crumble and custard all in the one bowl. As a child I'd never eat pudding and custard together so me beloved grandmother would serve me a bowl of each - and I'd diligently alternate between the bowls. Despite my mother's exasperation at this, when my grandmother passed away, she continued to indulge me in this foible and still does until this day. Well once lockdown is over, I can see this privilege being firmly consigned to history.
Anyhow, you're probably after the recipe, right? Crumble is pretty straight forward. Mix a bit of butter, flour and sugar. Pop it on top of fruit and whack in the oven. Serve with lashings of Birds custard. But in our house, it's a more indulgent treat, with a recipe I've refined over several rhubarb seasons with a sneaky bit of port and cardamom for good measure. It's a bit more effort, but definitely worth it once in a while. Enjoy!
For the rhubarb
600g rhubarb stalks (trimmed weight), washed and cut into thumb sized pieces
3 tbsps of port or medium/dry rose wine
75g caster sugar
For the crumble
140g self raising flour
50g light, soft brown sugar (or 25g caster sugar, 25g soft dark brown sugar)
85g chilled butter, cubed
50g ground almonds (optional)
For the custard
300ml double cream
300ml whole or semi-skimmed milk
10 cardamom pods, seeds crushed
4 large egg yolks
1 tbsp cornflour
Put the rhubarb, sugar and port into a saucepan and heat gently for 15 minutes or until the rhubarb is soft and holding its shape.
Rub the flour and butter together until it resembles breadcrumbs. You want to ensure that the butter is fully rubbed in, but if the mixture is a little 'clumpy' it all makes for a lovely, textured crumble. Gently mix in the sugar and ground almonds.
Pop the rhubarb into an ovenproof dish, scatter over the crumble topping. Bake in a preheated oven (180c fan/gas mark 6) for 30 minutes or until golden brown. Serve with lashings of custard.
Put the cream, milk and cardamom seeds in a saucepan. Heat until steaming then remove from the heat then leave for 20 mins for the flavours to infuse.
Whisk the egg yolks with the sugar then whisk in the cornflour. Pour in a little of the warmed milk to form a smooth paste then gradually whisk in the remaining liquid.
In a clean pan sieve the custard mixture back in to remove the cardamom pods. Cook over a low heat, stirring constantly for 4-5 mins until you have thick custard that coats the back of a spoon.