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Now reading Rhubarb Torte

Rhubarb Torte

Unlike any other fruit dessert.

At eighteen, my mom left home and took the first job she found: cooking, cleaning, and waiting tables at an inn and restaurant in Door County, Wisconsin, an hour and half north of where she was born. At nineteen, she was running the kitchen of the same restaurant, doing 150 covers a night. She had no formal training. Her training was growing up on a little farm on the edge of town, the second-youngest in a family of eleven.

Forty-three years later, my mom and dad still own that same restaurant, the White Gull Inn. My sisters and I grew up there, and in the acre of garden they still keep in the field behind their house. My mom didn’t teach me to cook. I learned like she did—by being there, washing the mud off ramps or peeling back the buggy outer leaves of the brussels sprouts. But, like her mom, she did teach me—very deliberately—how to garden. How to plant—how far apart and how deep—what lettuce looks like when it goes to seed, and when to stop picking the asparagus and rhubarb (the Fourth of July). For my mom and for her family, cooking was the second step in providing—the first was gardening.

This recipe is my mom’s and her mom’s, we think. It’s unlike any other fruit dessert I’ve had, part “bar” and part custard, and my mom only makes it in spring—when rhubarb is the first and only thing that grows in her garden. —Emilie Coulson

Ingredients

Makes 1 torte (9 inches by 13 inches)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 C sugar
  • 1 C flour
  • 3/4 t baking soda
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 2 1/2 –3 1/2 C fresh rhubarb, preferably red, sliced into pieces about a quarter-inch wide. (If you use the smaller red varieties, the custard will be sweeter. If you have access to only the really wide, green kind, it will be more tart.)
  • + Crust

Crust

  • 1 1/2 C flour
  • 7 T sugar
  • 1 1/2 sticks (12 T) cold butter, cut into cubes

Preparation

Make the custard

Ingredients
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 C sugar
  • 1 C flour
  • 3/4 t baking soda
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 2 1/2 –3 1/2 C fresh rhubarb, preferably red, sliced into pieces about a quarter-inch wide. (If you use the smaller red varieties, the custard will be sweeter. If you have access to only the really wide, green kind, it will be more tart.)
  • + Crust
  1. In a large mixing bowl, beat the eggs and sugar until combined. Stir in the flour, baking soda, and salt. Add the rhubarb, and stir until it begins to release its juices. Let sit for 30 minutes.

Make the crust

Crust
  • 1 1/2 C flour
  • 7 T sugar
  • 1 1/2 sticks (12 T) cold butter, cut into cubes
  1. Heat the oven to 350°F.

  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour and sugar. Cut in the butter as if you’re making a pie crust. Press the dough into a 9- by 13-inch pan.

  3. Pour the custard into the crust, and bake for 30–45 minutes, until the torte is set and slightly golden, not toasty brown. Store any leftovers, covered, at room temperature.