29 February 2024

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Rhubarb Custard Pot with Blood Orange Syrup


by Zsuzsanna Toth

A very talented cook and dear friend of mine started posting about her daily soup methods, lovingly calling them ‘slop.’ It became a word that I have loved ever since, even though it also mirrors somewhat the feeling of January, the seemingly longest month of the year and the weather that comes with it. The excitement for rhubarb, however, is nothing but pure joy; an earthy and wild pinkesque glimmer of hope, a reminder that after a sturdy and sour season, with a little effort and patience, things can get sweet again. Accompanied by its pal from down south, the blood orange, it revisits us around the same time of the year, creating a thick layer of hugging custard and, yes, quite some sugar, for a bright and indulgent slop. Easy to make and hard to resist.

Ingredients (for approx. 4)

300ml double cream
200ml whole milk
120g egg yolk
100g caster sugar
1 vanilla pod
1 tsp salt

300g forced rhubarb, washed, trimmed and cut into 4cm pieces
60g caster sugar
Juice and rind of one lemon
(Make double to triple to have some extra rhubarb in your fridge for granola etc.)

2 blood oranges
150-200g sugar


Place the rhubarb in a deep roasting tin, combining it with sugar and lemon juice and zest. Ensure thorough coating by gently mixing with your hands. Ideally, arrange the rhubarb in a single layer within the tray, spreading it out evenly. Allow it to macerate for approximately 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the syrup:
Juice the blood oranges and heat with their zest and the sugar low and slow until the sugar dissolves. Take off the heat, let it sit for half an hour (or hours), pour through a sieve into a small bottle.

For the custard, combine double cream, milk, and half of the sugar in a pan with the vanilla pod (scrape it out and add the whole pod as well). Warm the mixture gently. In a bowl, manually whisk the egg yolks with the remaining sugar. Pour the warmed cream mixture slowly into the bowl and stir thoroughly with a whisk. Transfer the custard mixture back to the pan and, over low heat, consistently stir with a whisk until it reaches approximately 75°C. Make sure there are no lumps, but if they happen don’t worry, pour the custard through a fine sieve. Transfer the custard into a dish capable of holding around 1L liquid and cover the surface with clingfilm, ensuring no air pockets remain between the custard and the plastic. Let it rest in the fridge for ideally two hours.

Now, assemble as you wish. Choose your favorite glass (I advise see-through glass) and layer the chilled ingredients, starting with rhubarb (pressed down), approximately a tablespoon of the blood orange syrup, and as much custard as you can and want. I’ll always add a sprinkle of Maldon on top. Add a biscuit for texture.


Zsuzsanna Toth is a chef and writer living in Berlin. @zsubidu