Rick Stein's Bilberry Tart

Rick Stein's bilberry tart from his BBC2 series, Rick Stein's Secret France, is a brilliant way to cook with this rare berry, or use more common blueberry if you like.

Rick Stein’s Secret France
A culinary journey across France with Rick Stein
All of your favourite recipes from the BBC series
Secret French recipes alongside authentic classics

Introduction

In Haut-Jura there is a restaurant called La Boissaude in Rochejean, way up in the foothills of the Alps. It’s so high, in fact, that people are skiing all around in the winter. Their raison d’être is côte de boeuf grilled over a large open fire which I’m a complete sucker for, but they also do a fabulous bilberry tart. I don’t know why bilberries are so hard to come by in this country; they’re easy to grow, I think. But everyone grows blueberries, maybe because they are three times the size and easier to pick? I like to think the bilberries in the tart at La Boissaude were gathered wild from Sound of Music-type pastures and they certainly had a tangy, almost pine-like taste. I did test this recipe using blueberries, as you can get them everywhere, and it’s still very nice, particularly because the tart is really stuffed with fruit, with a very light binding of egg custard. Another feature of this restaurant is that if you’re lucky, you might get to enjoy a performance on the Alpine horn.

Serves 8

Ingredients

For the pastry:
210g plain flour, plus extra for rolling
pinch salt
100g cold butter, cubed
40g caster sugar
1 egg, beaten
1 tbsp ice-cold water
For the filling:
75g ground almonds
600g bilberries, stems removed, washed and dried (or use 600g fresh or frozen blueberries)
150ml double cream
75g icing sugar, sifted
2 eggs, beaten
1 tsp vanilla extract
To serve:
crème fraiche

Essential kit

You will need: a 25cm loose-bottomed tin.

Instructions

For the pastry, put the flour, salt and butter in a food processor and pulse until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Transfer it to a bowl and stir in the sugar, then fold in the egg and enough of the water to bring everything together into a smooth nonsticky dough.

Wrap the dough in cling film and chill for about 20 minutes. Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured board to a circle measuring about 28cm in diameter. Use it to line a 25cm loose-bottomed tin and prick the base all over with a fork. Chill again in the fridge or freezer for 20–30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 190°C/Fan 170°C. Line the pastry case with crumpled greaseproof paper and add some baking beans. Bake for about 10 minutes, then remove the paper and beans and put the pastry back in the oven for another 3–4 minutes to dry out the base. Turn the oven down to 180°C/Fan 160°C. Sprinkle the pastry with ground almonds, then add the berries and bake for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, make a custard by mixing the double cream, icing sugar, eggs and vanilla extract in a bowl. Pour this mixture over the berries and bake for another 30 minutes, or until the tart filling is fairly firm and golden.

Leave the tart to cool on a wire rack in the tin. Serve warm or at room temperature with cream or crème fraiche.

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