Blueberries are plump, cultivated berries, which develop a great taste when cooked. Bilberries are tiny and grow wild in Europe, and have a sharp, tart flavour. The two are sometimes confused because of the similarity of the names. I like to make this tart with bilberries – Tarte aux Myrtilles – which are hard to find but worth it (this is the only thing that motivates me to brave the moors and pick a batch once in a while), but you can use any berry fruit in season; and besides blueberries, which the tart shown here is made from, blackberries, raspberries, blackcurrants and tayberries all work well. The pâte brisée is crumbly and light, like freshly baked biscuit, and although it is very easy to prepare, this is the kind of dessert that always gives me a sense of achievement.
Rub the flour and butter together with your fingertips until the mixture looks like breadcrumbs. It really helps to work in a cool kitchen and have cool fingers. Mix in the sugar. Then add the egg and water, using a round-ended knife in a cutting motion to combine the ingredients until they form into a pastry ball. Put the pastry ball on to a cool, floured work surface and lightly knead with the palm of your hand for a minute, to ensure a smooth pastry. Wrap and place in the fridge to rest for 40 minutes.
Lightly butter a 25cm push-up-bottom flan tin. Dust a cool surface with flour and roll out the chilled pastry to more than fit the tin (because you do not want to have to stretch it). As this is a high-butter-content pastry, take care not to let the pastry stick to the surface – keep dusting lightly with flour. Line the tin with the rolled-out pastry with the excess lying over the edges, and to trim it, simply roll the pin over the flan tin. Return the pastry to the fridge for 20 minutes.
Place the berries in the chilled pastry case. Mix together the eggs, sugar, cream, flour and cassis until smooth and pour over the fruit. Lightly sprinkle with a little extra sugar and
© 2002 Fran Warde. All rights reserved.