RHUBARB is a firm British favourite that’s in its prime at this time of the year. I love the vibrant colour of the crimson stalks and the tart, complex flavour of this wonderful plant (which in actual fact is a vegetable rather than a fruit).

Although it’s most commonly associated with sweet treats, rhubarb also pairs beautifully with many meat dishes and I try to incorporate it into my Spring menu at the restaurant as much as possible. Rhubarb gin seems to be popular at the moment and rhubarb cordial is also delicious on a sunny day - so go and buy yourself a bunch while it’s in season and try out a few different recipes. You won’t be disappointed.

Rhubarb needs to be cooked, preferably with a lot of sugar, to make it edible because it’s far too tart to eat raw. You only eat the stalk of the plant – the leaves contain oxalic acid which is poisonous so make sure you remove them before cooking.

When buying rhubarb, select crisp, firm stalks which are long and brightly coloured and avoid any that are limp or damaged.

For me nothing beats the classic combination of rhubarb and custard which will forever hold a nostalgic place in my heart. The best Sunday dinners of my childhood finished with a bowl of steaming rhubarb, either simply stewed or topped with crumble or pastry and smothered in creamy luscious vanilla custard.

This delicious seasonal pudding is a quirky combination of a few different rhubarb desserts – rhubarb fool and rhubarb and custard. It also gives a gentle nod to the classic British trifle with its layers of sponge, fruit, custard and cream. I’m not opposed to using good quality ready-made custard here since the recipe only requires a relatively small amount. But feel free to make your own custard if you have the time. Similarly, if you want to bake your own sponge cake then go ahead!


(serves 4)

4 large sticks of rhubarb, chopped

3 tbsp water

4 tbsp sugar, or more to taste

250g mascarpone

300ml whipping cream

1 small Madeira cake or 1 packet of Madeleine sponge cakes

300ml custard (chilled)

75g chocolate, grated

Gently cook the rhubarb, sugar and water in a saucepan over a low heat for 10 minutes until the fruit has softened and the fibres have broken down. If you prefer your rhubarb a little sweeter then add a bit more sugar. Remove from the heat and allow to cool completely.

In a large bowl, whip the cream until thickened and fluffy but so it’s not too stiff (otherwise it will split). Carefully fold in the mascarpone and add two thirds of the cooled rhubarb, leaving the syrup in the pan. Everything should be nicely combined but don’t worry about it being well mixed, you don’t want to knock the air out of the cream. Refrigerate for a couple of hours to firm up.

To assemble the dessert, place a layer of sponge into the bottom of individual ramekins (or one large dessert bowl if you prefer). Drizzle the rhubarb syrup over the cake and allow to soak in before pouring the custard over the top. Spoon the rhubarb cream over the custard layer and return to the fridge for another 30 minutes or so to allow everything to set together.

To serve, spoon the remaining rhubarb and syrup over the top and finish with a sprinkling of grated white chocolate.