Rhubarb Meringue Pie by Phil Skinazi, Executive Pastry Chef at Gleneagles

The bleak mid-winter didn’t earn its name for no good reason. In the early months of the year, Christmas festivities are a distant memory, the weather is dreich, and our natural larder is in the midst of its annual slumber, so for many chefs, it does seem like the bleakest time in the seasonal food calendar.

By the end of January, it feels like we’ve been comforting ourselves for months with hearty foods, rich sauces and spices to see ourselves through the long, cold, wet, dark days. We long for the vibrancy of sweet Scottish berries and fresh British fruits . . . and then, all of a sudden, Mother Nature shows us some mercy.

She sends us forced rhubarb in late January – its neon pink flesh bringing excitement and hope to an otherwise dull winter food colour palette. Its arrival signals that we don’t have too much longer to wait for the spring, when our wonderful native fruits and vegetables will start to appear again.

Forced rhubarb’s uniquely acidic, slightly sweet, slightly sharp flavour brings energy to both savoury and sweet dishes. It’s not as fibrous or mouth-smackingly sour as the type of rhubarb we all remember from childhood – the kind you’d steal from your grandmother’s garden and have to dip in a bag of sugar to stomach it!

Forced rhubarb, although native to Siberia, has become seen as a British ingredient. Historically, the best forced rhubarb was grown in “forcing sheds” in a small area in West Yorkshire known as the "rhubarb triangle", although anyone can force rhubarb in their own garage or shed. Starved of light, the rhubarb plants produce long, thin stems that are prized for their delicious and delicate flavour.

This recipe gives the beautifully delicate flavour the chance to sing. It showcases the Italian meringue method – where you pour boiling sugar syrup into the eggs whilst they’re being whipped, instead of blasting it in the oven like you would with French meringue. Italian meringue is much more forgiving on delicate ingredients and flavours and its sweetness goes wonderfully with the zingy and slightly tart rhubarb.

It’s really easy to cook, making it a wonderfully quick dessert, but a big slice also goes well with coffee as a delicious afternoon pick-me-up!

Rhubarb Meringue Pie

Makes one 26cm tart


For the sweet pastry:

180g unsalted butter

110g icing sugar

1 whole egg

1 egg yolk

35g ground almonds

½ tsp salt

300g plain flour

For the rhubarb filling:

600g forced rhubarb, washed and roughly chopped

1 vanilla pod, split in half

1 lemon, zest only

220g caster sugar

60g unsalted butter

30g cornflour

30g orange juice

For the Italian meringue:

150g fresh egg whites

300g caster sugar

100g water


1. First, make the sweet pastry. In an electric mixer, use the paddle attachment and cream the butter with 75g of icing sugar. Add the whole egg and egg yolk slowly, making sure you emulsify it completely. Add the remaining icing sugar, ground almonds, salt and flour to the mix to form a smooth dough. Cover the paste and allow to rest in the fridge for 2 to 3 hours.

2. Once the dough has rested, roll the pastry to 3.5mm and line the tart ring. Set aside for later, ideally in the fridge to rest. Once you are ready to fill the tart case, blind bake the pastry at 175°C for 15 to 20 minutes or until golden brown.

3. Next, make the rhubarb filling. Using a large pan on a gentle heat, add the rhubarb and vanilla pod and cook until the fruit begins to soften. Add the caster sugar and lemon zest and bring to mixture back to the boil then add the butter.

4. Make a paste with the orange juice and cornflour and then add the paste to the cooking compote. Cook the mixture for a further for 2 to 3 minutes and then remove the pan from the heat. Remove the vanilla pod and pour the mixture into the blind baked tart case. Place the tart into the fridge to allow to cool.

5. Now, prepare the Italian meringue. Place the sugar and water in a pan and mix well. Put the pan on a medium heat and bring the mixture to the boil. Meanwhile, in an electric mixer use the whisk attachment and add the egg whites and begin to whip them until they reach soft peaks.

6. When the sugar syrup reaches 118°C, pour the syrup slowly into the egg whites while continuing to whip the mixture until it is completely cool. Once cooled, spread or pipe the meringue on the top of the set compote.

7. Place the rhubarb meringue pie into a hot oven 230°C for 5 to 7 minutes or until golden. Make sure to keep a close eye on the pie at this stage as it can quickly burn. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for a few minutes before serving.