Thursday, 28 July 2016

Bilberry & Custard Crumble Tart

With slightly sharp & juicy bilberries, creamy custard, and crumbly crumble all housed in a sweet pastry case, this fabulously delicious bake not only combines two popular desserts but also contains all of the seasonal flavours and textures you might want in one bite!

Bilberry & Custard Crumble Tart

Pie or crumble?  It can be a quite a decision wondering what to make with fruits which have been lovingly foraged.  That was the predicament which Mr E & I faced the other day after coming home with a box full of bilberries.  Clearly, it's not an earth shaking predicament, but none the less a relatively important one when you want to do justice to a beautiful fruit which is difficult to harvest. 

The 'eureka' moment hit when I was on the cusp of falling asleep that evening.  Why not make both.  In one bake.  A crumble tart.  Or if you prefer, a crumble pie.  With a sweet pastry base, delicious slightly tart bilberries and crumble topping the dessert sounded like the perfect combination.  But deciding to make the tart a 'complete' dessert I included a layer of creamy custard, to make a Bilberry & Custard Crumble Tart, which sat snugly between the bilberries and the crumble topping.  It's perfect for packaging up for a day out and about, a picnic or for when sat at home with a pot of tea.  

Bilberry & Custard Crumble Tart recipe

Now I have to admit that having just made half a pint (284ml) of custard to distribute amongst five Bilberry & Custard Crumble Tarts, that wonderful colour of yellow custard is barely noticeable to the naked eye.  But those creamy notes were certainly detected during the eat.  They worked beautifully, as you might expect, with the slightly sharp bilberries.

How to make a Bilberry & Custard Crumble Tart

Now bilberries produce a wonderful purple juice which not only colours the fingers when they're being picked, but also gives rise to the name 'Mucky Mouth Pie' - seriously you will look as though you've eaten a bag full of blackjacks (those small chewy sweets) if you're able to source bilberries for this tart.  Bilberries do give off a lot of juice and can soon result in a tart with a soggy bottom.  To counter that I not only blind baked the pastry tart  but also distributed a little cornflour through the cleaned bilberries in the hope it would thicken the purple juice a little.  It worked a treat, and although the juice seeped out once the Bilberry & Custard Crumble Tart had been opened the pastry base certainly wasn't spoilt or soggy in the slightest.  Karen, from Lavender and Lovage, recommended using a metal pie plate, which conducts the heat effectively, when she, or rather her mum, made a bilberry pie with clotted cream recently.   

Bilberry & Custard Crumble Tart recipe

Regular visitors to Only Crumbs Remain may have seen the Bilberry and Spelt Muffins I made with a few foraged bilberries a couple of weeks ago.  Most of the comments received to that post echoed they had never tried bilberries. It really highlighted to me how lucky we are living here in Yorkshire where they grow abundantly.  Many of the walks which Mr E & I tread often see us pass many low growing bilberry bushes, allowing us to spend some time picking the fruit at this time of year, which tastes  immeasurably nicer than blueberries.  A little search on the internet has shown that even if you don't live in areas where the bilberry grows they can be purchased in shops and on line.  Many Polish shops stock jarred Krakus bilberries.  There are also on-line retailers, such as Bakers of Larners who retail them for £4.14 for a 460g jar (correct as of July 2016).  

Yorkshire: beautiful countryside, fabulous shopping, a wonderful coastline, along with a wealth of history and culture.

Or failing that why not put that £4.14 towards a trip  to Yorkshire ;-), where you can pick as many as you like throughout late July and most of August (though do save a few for the local birds and mammals who enjoy them too).  It's a fabulous county, rich with countryside, fabulous shopping destinations, a wonderful coastline, history and culture, which will be celebrating Yorkshire Day on the 1st of August.  If you fancy marking Yorkshire Day with a bake, why not try a savoury Wensleydale Cheese Tart, followed by the historic Wilfra Tart or perhaps a Yorkshire Curd Tart is more your thing made with the traditional curds, or this Yorkshire Curd Tart made with easily sought cottage cheese.   

Please only forage for food stuff when you are 100% sure of what you are gathering.


So, let's get to it and bake!


Bilberry & Custard Crumble Tart     Yum

How to make a Bilberry & Custard Crumble Tart
Yield: 5 x 12cm tart
Serves: 5 people generously
Difficulty: Moderate
Freezable: Sorry, untested
Time: about 35 - 40 minutes hands on; about 44 - 49 minutes total bake time; plus cooling time

You will need:

5 x 12cm Flan Tins, with a loose bottom (see note a below)
Baking Tray(s)
Mixing Bowl (s)
Milk Pan (or similar)
Cling Film
Rolling Pin
Greaseproof Paper
Baking Beans (or uncooked rice or pasta)
Small Sharp Knife

For the Sweet Pasty (Pate Sucree)

275g Plain Flour
100g Unsalted Butter, chilled & diced
100g Icing Sugar
2 medium Egg, lightly beaten
500g Shop Bought Sweet Pastry

For the Crumble Topping

120g SR Flour
60g Unsalted Butter, chilled
20g Golden Caster Sugar
35g Caster Sugar
30g Porridge Oats

For the Bilberry Filling

c350g Bilberries (or any other small berries if you prefer)
2 tbsp Sugar
2 tsp (heaped) cornflour

For the Custard

1 tbsp Custard Powder (we used Birds Traditional Custard Powder, or use your preferred custard)
1/2 tbsp Sugar (or to taste)
284ml (1/2 pint) Milk

How to make them:

1.  Make the pastry.   Place the flour, icing sugar and cubed chilled butter into a good sized bowl.  Rub the butter into the flour between your thumb and finger tips until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.   Make a well in the centre of the breadcrumbs and add the beaten eggs.  Using a rounded pallet knife, or the back of a table knife, cut through the mixture to make a dough.  You may need to add a little cold water (perhaps 1 or 2 teaspoons) to fully bring the mixture together.  Tip the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and lightly knead the dough for 10 seconds.  Shape the pastry into a ball and flatten into a disc.  Wrap in cling film and place into the fridge to chill for at least 30 minutes, (see note b).

2.  Make the crumble.  Place the flour and chilled butter into a good sized bowl.  Use a knife to cube the butter.  Rub the butter into the flour between your thumb and finger tips, until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs.  Add the sugar and porridge to the crumble mixture and stir together until well incorporated.  Set aside.

3.  Make the custard.  (Follow the packet instructions if using your preferred brand).  Place the custard powder and sugar into a bowl.  Add 3 tbsp of the cold milk and stir to make a smooth paste.  Pour the remaining milk into a pan and set on the hob over a medium flame.  Once the milk is just about to come to the boil pour it over the custard paste mixture.  Stir thoroughly to make a smooth custard.  You're aiming for the custard to be moderately thick.  If the custard is a little runny, pour it back into the pan and set over a low heat.  Stir constantly with a wooden spoon until it starts to thicken.  Once ready pour it back into the bowl.  Cover the custard with clingfilm, ensuring that the film is in direct contact with the custard to prevent it from forming a skin as it cools.  Set the bowl aside. (See note c below)    

4.  Line the tart cases.  Remove the pastry from the fridge and divide into 5 pieces of roughly equal size.  Place one portion onto a lightly floured work work surface.  Lightly cover the remaining 4 which have been set aside with the cling film. Roll the pastry out until it is about 2-3mm thick.  Wrap the pastry around the rolling pin, lift it up (using the pin) and place into the flan tin.  Gently tease the pastry into the case so that it sits into the edges well and picks up the shape of the fluted sides.  If the pastry tears, patch it with surplus pastry.  Avoid stretching the pastry.  Line the remaining tart cases in the same way.

5.  Trim away the excess pastry.  Use a pair of clean scissors to trim away the bulk of the excess pastry which over hangs the sides of the tart cases.   Don't worry about making it neat as the pastry will be trimmed neatly after it has been blind baked.  Use a fork to gently prick the pastry base.  Place into the fridge to chill for at least 10 - 15 minutes.

6.  Pre-heat the oven to 190c / 170 fan / Gas 5.  Place a baking tray onto the middle shelf which is large enough to house the tart cases.

7.  Prepare to blind bake the pastry.  Remove the lined tart tins from the fridge.   Cut 5 squares of grease proof paper large enough to cover the base and sides tart cases.  Scrunch up a piece and open it out.  Gently lay it on top of the pastry, easing it into the edges.  Weigh the paper down with baking beans or uncooked rice or pasta.  Repeat with the remaining 4 cases.

8.  Blind bake the pastry.  Place the cases into the oven on the heated baking tray(s) and cook for 14 minutes.  After 10 minutes, you may need to rotate the cases.  Remove from the oven and lift out the greaseproof paper which holds the baking beans / rice.  Allow the pastry cases to cool.  Return the baking tray to the oven.

9.  Reduce the oven temperature to 180c / 160 fan / Gas 4. 

10.  Prepare the bilberries.  Gently wash the bilberries, removing any leaves, stems or spoilt fruit.  If using jarred bilberries drain & rinse the berries.  Dry them gently with kitchen roll.  Sprinkle the sugar and cornflour over the berries.  Gently stir with a spoon to combine.  Aim to evenly distribute the cornflour as best you can.

11. Trim the cooked pastry cases.   Use a small sharp knife to trim the excess cooked pastry from the pastry cases.  Hold the knife horizontally.  Slowly and carefully trim away the excess so that the top of the pastry case is flush with the metal housing.  If the pastry cracks a little patch it with a little of the raw pastry trimmings.

12.  Stir the custard.  Remove the clingfilm from the now cool custard.  Use a spoon to mix the custard thoroughly.

13.  Assemble the Bilberry & Custard Crumble Tarts.   Divide the prepared bilberries between the five tart cases, ensuring that the berries make an even layer in the pastry case.  Place a tablespoon of custard onto the berries.  Use the back of the spoon to gently spread it out.  Avoid having the custard touch the metal tart case as this will make removing the baked tart from the case more difficult.  Top the tarts with the crumble mixture, teasing it to the edge of the tart case to ensure that the contents are completely covered.

14.  Bake.  Place the tart cases into the oven (on the preheated baking tray) and bake for 30 - 35 minutes.  Check the tarts after 25 minutes of baking, you may need to rotate the tarts at this point.  The tarts are ready when the crumble topping is a pale golden brown.  Remove from the oven and set aside on a cooling rack to cool.

15.  Remove from the tart cases.  After 4 or 5 minutes of cooling remove the tarts from their cases.  Gently return them to the cooling rack to finish cooling.



a)  Rather than using the 12cm tart tins, the bake would work equally well made both larger or smaller, though you will need to adjust the baking duration.
b)  The pastry can be made a day or two ahead of time and kept wrapped in the fridge until required.  You may need to remove it from the fridge 10 minutes or so before rolling if it is overly firm.
c)  The custard needs to be moderately thick, but still pourable, as it will thicken further when baked in the oven as part of the tart.
d) Personally I find rolling the individual portions of pastry far easier than handling and turning a large sheet of pastry. 
e)  Depending upon the size of your baking tray and your choice of tart tins you may need to batch bake the tarts.
f)  The heated baking tray makes it a lot easier to remove the tarts from the oven without having to handle the actual tart case.
g) When handling the pastry try not to add too much flour to the work bench. 
h)  Any off cuts of pastry could be used to make jam tarts etc.

Pin it for later:

This Bilberry & Custard Crumble Tart combines two popular desserts.

This post has been shared with:

Treat Pepite co-hosted by Stuart at Cakeyboi and Kat from The Baking Explorer, (the theme this month is Anything Goes and is hosted by Stuart).
Link up your recipe of the week CookBlogShare My Random Musings


  1. I love the sound of a crumble pie - I bet this is absolutely delicious! I am still to try bilberries - not so many foraging opportunities in south London. #CookBlogShare

    1. Ooh it certainly was Mandy, best of both worlds :-) I think you're probably right that you're unlikely to find any bilberries growing wild in South London, but I would think a local Polish shop would stock them.
      Thanks for popping by Mandy,
      Angela x

  2. I adore a good crumble, this looks absolutely delicious! I need to try bilberries - they look yummy!

    1. You and me both, it's definately one of my favourite desserts :-) I'd definitely recomend trying bilberries - they're absolutely delicious.
      Thanks for popping by,
      Angela x

  3. I LOVE the idea of crumble pie! Why choose between two wonderful desserts when you can have both...and custard? Still not noticed any bilberries on any of my rural runs...though that may be because I am concentrating so carefully on putting one foot in front of the other!! I'm sure they must grow in Sussex too...! Eb x

    1. Hahaha, it ceratinly does help to place one foot in front of the other Eb - after all, you don't want grazed knees ;-) I guess it depends on what type of soil you're running on - if it's acidic soil you may have chance of finding some bilberries, otherwise I'd suggest checking Polish shops (or even your local village store - it sounds amazing with the huge range that it stocks). It's certainly the best of both worlds, and the pastry case makes it portable too which is no bad thing.
      Thanks for popping by Eb,
      Angela x

  4. Bilberries are a new one to me. So definitely one to try! YUM! Thanks for linking to #CookBlogShare

    1. Ooh you definitely should Hayley, they really are fabulous :-)
      Angela x

  5. Happy Yorkshire day! Wow these look so good, just look at the delicious juice from the bilberries! Thank you for sharing with #CookBlogShare x

    1. Thank you Kirsty :-) That bilberry juice is just amazing, though it does have the tendancy to stain whatever it touches! Happy Yorkshire Day :-)
      Angela x

  6. Wow! This sounds amazing! It's going to sound strange but I'd never actually heard of bilberries before until today and I had to Google them to see what they were lol. Obviously I knew they were a berry fruit but I was interested to find out more about them. Your bilberry and custard tart sounds amazing - thanks for sharing! Janet #AnythingGoes

    1. Thank you Janet. It really doesn't sound strange at all, you're certainly not on your own with not being familiar with bilberries, though now you know what they are you'll have to hunt some out and give them a try - they really are delicious :-).
      Thanks for popping by and commenting Janet,
      Angela x

  7. This looks so yummy, I have now tried bilberries so I know how good they taste with custard! Thanks for linking up with #TreatPetite

    1. Thank you Kat, I'm glad you enjoyed them.
      Thanks for hosting a lovely linky,
      Angela x

  8. You know, I've never had a bilberry before? But I think I would love them - especially in these crumble tarts. Thanks for taking part in Treat Petite!

    1. I seems that you're not alone in having never come across them Stuart, in the handful of bilberry bakes I've made this summer there have been several people making a similar sort of comment. They're absolutely gorgeous and certainly something to lookout for.
      Thanks for popping by, and of course for hosting,
      Angela x


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