Meringue roulade with rhubarb

I think rhubarb is a little like Vegemite. If you grew up eating it, you can’t imagine life without it, but if it wasn’t a part of your childhood, then you tend to steer away from that strange vegetable masquerading as a fruit.

When I was a child, everyone had rhubarb growing in their garden, so there was always a glass bowl of velvety, sweet rhubarb in the refrigerator, ready to be spooned over ice cream, custard or, if you had a sweet tooth like my grandfather, on buttered bread. It was only as an adult that I discovered you could roast it and cook it with possibly a little less sugar! In this recipe, the sweetness of the meringue is nicely balanced by the slight tartness of the rhubarb.

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Ingredients

  • 350 g (12 oz) rhubarb, finely chopped
  • 250 g (9 oz) caster (superfine) sugar
  • 1 teaspoon rosewater
  • 5 large free-range egg whites
  • 2 teaspoons cornflour (cornstarch)
  • 1 teaspoon natural vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
  • 45 g ( oz/ cup) pistachio nuts
  • 200 ml (7 fl oz) thickened cream, whipped
  • icing (confectioners’) sugar, for dusting

Method

Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F). Line two baking trays with baking paper. Draw a 25 x 35 cm (10 x 14 inch) rectangle on the back of one sheet of paper, for the meringue.

Put the rhubarb and 75 g ( oz/ cup) of the sugar in a bowl and add the rosewater. Stir to combine, then put the rhubarb on the prepared tray. Cover with baking paper and foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove and set aside to cool.

Meanwhile, using an electric mixer, whisk the egg whites until they form soft peaks, then slowly add the remaining sugar and whisk until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture is smooth and glossy. Fold in the cornflour, vanilla and vinegar. Using the marked rectangle on the paper as a guide, spread the meringue evenly over the tray. Bake for 20 minutes.

Put the pistachios in a small food processor and blend to a fine texture. Spread the ground pistachios over a large sheet of baking paper. Remove the meringue from the oven and flip it over onto the baking paper, so the meringue is sitting on the ground pistachios. With the short side facing you, roll the meringue and baking paper up, like a Swiss (jelly) roll. Set aside to cool for 15 minutes, then unroll and transfer to a long piece of plastic wrap. The meringue may have cracked a little, but don’t panic as the cream makes a wonderful mortar.

Spread the whipped cream evenly over the meringue, leaving 3 cm ( inches) clear at one end, and then cover with the cooled rhubarb. Carefully roll the meringue up again using the plastic wrap to keep it smooth and even. When fully rolled, lightly smooth and press the roll into an even log shape. Remove the plastic wrap and transfer the roulade to a serving plate. Dust with icing sugar.

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