What to eat this month

Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s Rhubarb and Custard Trifle

Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s Rhubarb and Custard Trifle

Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s succulent tart crumble is perfect for late spring and early summer sugar cravings.

What you need

Serves 6

  • 500g rhubarb, trimmed and cut into 5cm lengths 100ml freshly squeezed orange juice (or plain water)
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • a simple plain sponge cake, such as Victoria or Genoese
  • whipped cream and toasted almonds, to decorate (optional)
  • For the custard:
  • 250ml double cream
  • 250ml whole milk
  • 1 vanilla pod, split open lengthways
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 100g caster sugar


Put the rhubarb, orange juice and sugar in a pan and bring to a simmer, stirring once or twice to dissolve the sugar. Cook very gently until the stalks are tender but some of them still hold their shape. Taste the rhubarb; it should be tart, as the sponge and custard will sweeten the trifle. But if it’s unpalatably sour, add a little more sugar.

Strain off about 200ml of the juice. Transfer the remaining rhubarb to a non-metallic dish. Chill both the juice and the rhubarb in the fridge.

To make the custard, put the cream and milk in a pan with the split vanilla pod and scald until not quite boiling. Beat the egg yolks and caster sugar together in a large bowl and gradually whisk in the hot cream. Return this custard to the pan over a very low heat and stir constantly until it thickens, making a glossy coat on the back of the spoon. Remove from the heat and continue to stir for a minute as it cools. Then strain through a sieve into a bowl and chill. When cold, it should be spoonably thick rather than pourable.

Break the sponge cake into chunks and press lightly into 6 large wine glasses, filling the bottom third. Pour in enough of the chilled rhubarb juice to soak the sponge thoroughly. Now pile in a generous layer (the next third of the glass) of the chilled, thickened custard. And then top with a layer of the stewed rhubarb. You can, if you like, top with a mound of stiffly whipped cream and a sprinkling of toasted almonds. But I prefer the pure rhubarb and custard version.

Taken from River Cottage Year

Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s Rhubarb and Custard Trifle

Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall