I love baking…well, any type of cooking, really.

But I also love “making do”: creating something from whatever I have in the fridge, freezer, pantry and garden. I grow lots of herbs and a few vegies, and always make sure I have some edible flowers too.

So, friends coming over for dinner – what will I make for dessert?

In the fridge is half a bunch of rhubarb, chopped into pieces about 2cm long. This is left over from a cake I made a week earlier – not a great success. I’ve thrown out the recipe. There is also a jar of blackberry jam.

In the freezer is a small plastic bag of homemade short crust pastry, left over from a pear tart a couple of weeks ago.

If your freezer doesn’t yield homemade pastry, just use a ready rolled sheet from the supermarket. Careme short crust pastry (made in the Barossa), from the freezer at IGA, is excellent. Their puff pastry is even better!

So here we go:

  • Roll out the pastry and bake it blind (in a loose bottomed pan) until golden brown.
  • Let it cool, then notice that it’s really well cooked and crisp (just how I like it). But if I make a filling that needs baking, the edges will probably burn, so I go for a filling that doesn’t need to go back into the oven.
  • This is the EASIEST custard filling ever!
  • Buy a packet of Foster Clark’s instant custard mix. Tip it into a bowl with 300ml of thickened cream, and whisk for just 10 seconds. You have a lovely thick custard for tarts or vanilla slices.
  • I’m a bit embarrassed to admit this is what I did, but, hey, it tasted great!
  • Next cook the rhubarb. You don’t want it falling apart, so bake it in the oven, with a sprinkling of sugar and the juice of an orange.
  • Shouldn’t take much longer than 10 minutes at 150C to make it tender.
  • Spread the custard thickly into the tart case.
  • Top with the cooled rhubarb, then fill in the gaps with a punnet of fresh raspberries.
  • Pop a half cup of berry jam (raspberry, strawberry, blackberry, it doesn’t matter) into the microwave and heat for a minute or so until it becomes liquid.
  • Gently trickle the liquid jam over the top of the fruit, then pop the tart into the fridge to set.
  • Don’t leave it in there for hours, or the pastry will get soggy.
  • Unmould it from the tin, then decorate with some tiny violas or thyme flowers. (I actually forgot this step, even though I had them in the garden!)

Serve a generous slice with cream or yoghurt.



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