Rhubarb – still known as “pie plant” – always reminds me of my childhood, because wherever we lived my mother was sure to plant rhubarb in the vegetable garden, ensuring a steady supply of this tangy vegetable for pies as well as sauces for spooning over vanilla ice cream. But rhubarb can be visually problematic, often losing its gorgeous rub red color as it cooks. I think that I have found a solution: in these delectable bars the rhubarb is not precooked – it is cut into extra-thin slices so it cooks quickly as the bars bake, retaining its bright red color.
Makes 16 squares
A 9 1/2 x 9 1/2-inch (24 cm) square baking pan; baking parchment; a food processor.
4 tablespoons (60 g) salted butter, chilled
1 cup (140 g) unbleached, all-purpose flour
1/3 cup (65 g) confectioners’ sugar
Grated zest of 1 lemon, preferably organic
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
2 tablespoons plain nonfat yogurt
3/4 cup (150 g) unrefined cane sugar, preferably organic, vanilla scented
1/4 cup (40 g) unbleached, all-purpose flour
4 large egg whites, preferably organic and free range
3 cups (300 g) thinly sliced rhubarb stalks (about seven 10-inch; 26 cm)
1. Center a rack in the oven. Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C).
2. Line the baking pan with two pieces of baking parchment, letting the parchment hang over the sides. (This will make it easier to remove the dessert once baked.)
3. Prepare the pastry: In the food processor, combine all the pastry ingredients and process to blend. The mixture should be soft and pliable.
4. Press the dough evenly into the bottom of the baking pan. Place the pan in the oven and bake until firm, about 12 minutes.
5. While the pastry is baking, prepare the topping: In a bowl, combine the sugar, flour, and egg whites and whisk to blend. Add the rhubarb and stir to coat it evenly with the egg-white mixture.
6. Remove the pan from the oven and spoon the rhubarb topping over the warm pastry. Return the baking pan to the oven and bake until the topping is firm and golden, 35 to 40 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool. Remove from the pan and cut into 16 squares. Serve at room temperature. (Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days.)
This recipe was first published in The French Kitchen Cookbook: Recipes and Lessons from Paris and Provence.
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