Yorkshire forced rhubarb, grown in the Rhubarb Triangle between Wakefield, Morley and Rothwell since the 1870s, is highly prized. It is cultivated in the dark in forcing sheds, whose warmth tricks the plants into behaving as if spring has come. The resulting tender stalks of rhubarb are harvested by candlelight - an amazing sight.
A plate pie is a very British thing. Enamel plates are perfect to use, as they conduct the heat so well, which helps you to avoid that soggy-bottom issue. Forced rhubarb is sweeter than outdoor-grown, so you can reduce the sugar in the filling if using it here.
275g plain flour
2 tbsp icing sugar
140g cold, unsalted butter, diced
3-4 tbsp ice-cold water
1 egg, lightly beaten, to glaze
For the filling
450g rhubarb, cut into 1cm chunks
2 tbsp custard powder
1 tsp ground ginger
130g caster sugar, plus extra for sprinkling
1 tbsp semolina
A 24cm pie plate
1.For the pastry, put the flour and icing sugar into a bowl, add the butter and rub it into your fingertips until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Stir in just enough water to bring it together into a dough. Knead briefly until smooth, wrap in cling film and leave to rest in the fridge for 30 minutes.
2. Heat the oven to 200°C/Gas 6. Set aside about a third of the pastry. Roll out the reminder on a lightly floured surface to a 2-3mm thickness and use to line a 24cm pie plate. Roll out the remaining pastry to form a lid.
3. For the filling, mix the rhubarb with the custard powder, ginger and caster sugar. Sprinkle the semolina over the pastry base, then spoon the rhubarb mixture evenly on the top.
4. Brush the edges of the pastry with a little beaten egg, then position the pastry lid on top of the pie. Trim off the excess pastry, press the edges together to seal, then crimp. Use the pastry trimmings to make decorations, if you like.
5. Brush the top of the pie with beaten egg, add any decorations and brush these too. Make 3 small slits in the top to let the steam out. Sprinkle evenly with caster sugar.
6. Bake for 15 minutes, then lower the oven setting to 180°C/Gas 4 and cook for a further 25 minutes, until the rhubarb is tender and the pastry is golden brown. Leave to rest for 15 minutes before serving with custard, cream or ice cream.
Taken from Paul Hollywood’s British Baking, published by Bloomsbury
Photograph © Peter Cassidy