Rachel Allen was brought up in Dublin and left home at eighteen to study at the world-famous Ballymaloe Cookery School. Rachel is now a busy ...
375 g fresh blueberries
2 tsp redcurrant jelly
2 tsp water, just boiled
for the sweet shortcrust pastry:
175 g plain flour
100 g chilled butter (cubed, plus extra for greasing)
25 g caster sugar
1 egg (separated and the white lightly whisked)
for the custard:
200 ml milk
1 vanilla pod (split in half lengthways)
25 g cornflour
50 g caster sugar
3 egg yolks
200 ml whipped cream
23cm (9in) diameter loosebottomed shallow tart tin
This is a great dessert for summer entertaining. The pastry can be made a day in advance of filling and serving, and if you'd rather use raspberries, there's nothing to stop you.
Begin by making the pastry. Place the flour, butter and sugar in a food processor and whiz briefly until the butter is in small lumps.
Add the egg yolk and continue to whiz for another few seconds or until the mixture looks as though it may just come together. (Bear in mind that prolonged processing will only toughen the pastry, so don't whiz it up to the point where it forms a ball of dough.)
If the pastry is still too dry, you can add a small amount of the egg white, but not too much as the mixture should be just moist enough to come together.
If making by hand, sift the flour and salt into a large bowl. Rub the butter into the flour until the mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs. Add the sugar and gently mix in using a fork. Drizzle in the egg yolk and lightly stir it in with a knife until the mixture comes together, adding more egg yolk if necessary.
With your hands, flatten out the ball of dough until it is about 2cm (3/4 in) thick, then cover with cling film or greaseproof paper and chill for at least 30 minutes in the fridge.
When you are ready to roll out the pastry, butter the tart tin and remove the pastry from the fridge, placing it between two sheets of cling film (each wider than your tart tin).
Using a rolling pin, roll out the pastry until it's about 3mm (1/8 in) thick and wide enough to line the base and sides of the prepared tin. Make sure to keep it in a round shape as well as large enough to line both the base and sides of the tin.
Remove the top layer of cling film, slide your hand, palm upwards, under the bottom layer of cling film, then flip the pastry over (so that the cling film is now on top) and carefully lower it into the tart tin.
Press into the edges (with the cling film still attached) and, using your thumb, 'cut' the pastry on the edge of the tin to give a neat finish.
Remove the cling film, prick over the base with a fork and chill the pastry in the fridge for a further 30 minutes or in the freezer for 10 minutes (it can keep for weeks like this in the freezer).
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F/Gas 4).
Remove the pastry from the fridge or freezer and line with foil, greaseproof paper or baking parchment, leaving plenty to come over the sides of the tin.
Fill with baking beans or dried pulses (you can use these over and over again) and bake 'blind' for 15-20 minutes or until the pastry feels dry to the touch in the base.
Remove the foil/paper and beans, brush with a little egg white and return to the oven for a further 5-8 minutes or until the pastry is lightly golden.
Remove from the oven and allow to cool.
To make the custard, pour the milk into a saucepan on a low heat, add the vanilla pod, cornflour and half the sugar and gently heat for 1-2 minutes, stirring to combine.
In a bowl, beat the egg yolks with the remaining sugar until they turn creamy in consistency and pale in colour. Slowly pour in the hot milk mixture, whisking as you add it, then pour back into a clean saucepan. (It's best to use a fresh or cleaned pan to lessen the chance of the sauce sticking and scrambling.)
Whisk well and place over a low-medium heat, then cook for 2-4 minutes, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until the custard has thickened.
Now remove the vanilla pod, scrape out some of the seeds and stir these back into the custard. Remove from the heat and allow to cool. Fold in the whipped cream.
To assemble the tart, spoon the cooled custard cream into the pastry case and top with the blueberries.
Dissolve the redcurrant jelly in the just-boiled water. Using a pastry brush, gently coat the blueberries with this glaze, taking care not to move the blueberries or disturb the custard. This will give the tart a lovely finishing gloss.
To serve, remove the tart from the tin (with the base of the tin still attached, if that's easier) and carefully transfer it to a serving plate or cake stand.