rhubarb charlotte recipe

Rhubarb is one of the easiest plants to grow - it will put up with most shade and continue to be productive despite being almost totally neglected. In fact, it's so extremely persistent that when archaelogists and historians spot it in the middle of nowhere, they assume people must have lived there once... a good clump of rhubarb is a sure sign that the ground was once cultivated.

It crops when the garden and fields are at their barest. Also, it has many health benefits - it is increasingly hailed as a superfood, rich in antioxidants, as well as being an excellent gentle purgative. It's wonderful in puddings, pies and tarts, but this Charlotte is just the perfect way to enhance it's natural zing and sweetness.

You can prepare this well in advance and heat it up when you want to eat it - baking at 180°C/gas mark 4 just to heat through and to crisp up the top.

Serves 8

  • 2kg rhubarb
  • Juice and zest of 2 oranges
  • 3 star anise
  • 100g sugar
  • 1kg Panettone cut into 2cm thick slices (don’t be tempted to use cheap white sliced bread)
  • 200g butter, melted
  • Crème fraîche or Greek yoghurt, to serve

Preheat the oven to 180°C/gas mark 4. Choose an ovenproof dish about 30 x 22cm. Poach the fruit gently in orange zest and juice with the star anise and sugar. Mash the fruit to break up any large pieces, but do not purée.

Cut the edges off the Panettone or the crusts off the bread and, with a pair of scissors, cut the slices into shapes that will completely cover the bottom and sides of the dish. Put some for the top to one side.

Using a pastry brush, brush a layer of melted butter over the bottom and sides of the dish. Sprinkle with a little sugar and shake the dish to distribute it over the sides and base. Brush both sides of the bread pieces with melted butter and lay them in and round the dish. Spoon in the fruit mixture and cover with the remaining bread, then brush the top generously with melted butter.

Bake in the oven for at least 40 minutes, until the top is golden brown. Serve with crème fraîche or Greek yoghurt.

This recipe is featured in p79 of Sarah Raven's Food for Friends and Family

rhubarb charlotte