Begone Winter

Rhubarb and Custard PuddingMy friend Lynn commented that she wished she could find the rhubarb pudding recipe her grandmother used. I don’t know if the following recipe is anything like the missing one, but it would be a worthy substitute. My hope is that this tasty dessert will make Lynn happy and will urge our warm weather to return soon. Begone Polar Vortex!

This pudding was developed by Madalene Bonvini-Hamel, who co-owns British Larder in Suffolk, UK. She very generously allowed me to reprint it here and to use her lovely photograph. Visit their website for more mouth-watering recipes, and stop by their pub if you are in the neighborhood.

The British Larder is a recipe diary that is written, trialled and tested by two professional chefs and self-confessed food fanatics. It’s been specially created for like-minded foodies who’d like to expand their repertoires and share their cookery tips with others.

I changed the measurements to American units, and can recommend substituting your favorite stone fruit if you can’t find rhubarb this coming summer. Mmmm… summer.


Rhubarb and Custard Pudding
Recipe type: Dessert
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 8
This pudding is truly delicious and I could happily make one for every season. Exchange the rhubarb for apples, blackberries, saffron poached pears, blueberries, raspberries, poached quinces, or pineapple.
Rum Crust
  • ¼ cup unsalted butter
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 2 Tablespoons spiced or dark rum
  • ¼ cup plus 2 teaspoons ground almonds
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1¼ cups all-purpose flour
Poached Rhubarb
  • 1 lb. rhubarb
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 7 Tablespoons water
  • Seeds from ½ vanilla pod, or ½ teaspoon extract
Pastry Cream
  • 2⅛ cup milk
  • ⅓ cup cornstarch
  • 4 egg yolks
  • Seeds from ½ vanilla pod, or ½ teaspoon extract
  • 2 Tablespoons spiced or dark rum
  • ⅓ cup plus 1 Tablespoon sugar
Rum Crust
  1. The pastry requires a minimum of 2 hours resting and my suggestion would be to make the pastry the day in advance, leave it to rest in the fridge, and make the rest of the pudding the following day.
  2. Cream the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Add the egg and rum and mix to incorporate.
  3. Sift the flour, baking powder, and ground almonds together. Sprinkle over the butter mixture and fold it in.
  4. Turn the pastry onto a sheet of plastic wrap. Bring the pastry together but do not knead it.
  5. Cover the pastry tightly and refrigerate for a minimum of 2 hours, and up to 24 hours.
Poached Rhubarb
  1. Wash the rhubarb and cut into ¾" pieces.
  2. Pour the water, sugar, and the vanilla seeds into a medium saucepan. Heat over low heat until the sugar has dissolved, then turn up the heat until the syrup boils rapidly for 1 minute.
  3. Add the rhubarb, cover the pan, and poach the rhubarb for 5 minutes. Do not over cook the rhubarb as it will collapse and lose its shape. It is better if the rhubarb is still crunchy at this stage.
  4. Drain the rhubarb in a fine sieve, reserving the syrup.
  5. Spread the rhubarb in the base of a 9" square or round baking dish.
Pastry Cream
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°.
  2. In a small bowl, mix the egg yolks, sugar, and cornstarch until it forms a smooth paste. Set aside.
  3. Rinse a medium saucepan with cold water and drain, but do not dry, the pan. Add the milk and vanilla and heat over medium heat until the milk just starts to boil.
  4. Add half of the hot milk to the egg mixture, mixing very well. Return the custard to the warm milk and, over low heat, cook for 5 minutes stirring continuously until thickened. Stir in the rum.
  5. Pour the warm pastry cream over the poached rhubarb.
To Bake
  1. Roll the rested, chilled pastry out onto a lightly floured work surface to ⅛" thickness.
  2. Cut a disk that will fit flat on top of the pastry cream.
  3. Gently transfer the pastry to the dish and lay it on top of the pastry cream. Use a metal skewer to make about 6 - 8 holes in the pastry.
  4. Bake for approximately 35 minutes in the preheated oven.
  5. Let the pudding cool for 15 minutes and then brush the rhubarb vanilla syrup over to glaze.
Serve either warm or cold
I like to add a pinch of both salt and nutmeg to the crust dough - Suzy



  1. 1

    Suzy, This recipe sounds great! I belong to a “Gourmet” Group that meets once a month. The next time it’s my turn to plan, I’m going to include it for the dessert….

    We really haven’t had winter yet. We’re expecting our first real rain this weekend. Aren’t you a bit sorry you left good old sunny California? We miss you.


    • 2

      This winter is challenging my resolve a bit! Some hot sand wouldn’t be half bad right now (we woke up to minus-2 temps this morning). The bird watchers here spotted the first bald eagle egg last week, so that means Spring WILL come.
      I’m glad to hear of your pending rain; let’s hope this is a sign of the California drought breaking.
      I miss all of you, too.

  2. 3

    It sounds delicious! But not Grandma’s. Grandma’s was made with tapioca pudding, I found one that sounds like it at the website:

    I will have to try it but it will have to be with frozen rhubarb, :(.

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