Bilberry 'Mucky Mouth' Tart

For many centuries, mint, an important ingredient in this tart - was believed to be an aphrodisiac, but it is included here because it highlights the delicate flavour of the bilberry. In Ireland, the gathering of bilberries is associated with courting, starting on the Sunday closest to the first day of August. Others regard mint as a stimulant to the brain and as an aid to digestion - further reason for giving this attractive tart a go.
It takes its name from the children's habit of collecting bilberries and shoving handfuls of them into their mouths ? with predictable results.


serves 6 - 8
350 g (12 oz) rich sweet shortcrust pastry
2 large dessert apples, peeled, cored and thinly sliced
225 g (8 oz) caster sugar
juice of 1/2 lemon
1 heaped tablespoon finely chopped fresh mint
675 g (1 1/2 lb) bilberries (blueberries)
115 g (4 oz) icing sugar, sifted
a few fresh mint leaves, to decorate


1. Roll out 225g (8 oz) pastry on a lightly floured surface and use to line a deep 23cm (9 in) tart tin. Pre-bake or bake blind. Wrap and chill the remaining pastry.

2. Preheat the oven to 190°C (375°F) Gas 5.

3. Place the apple slices in a bowl and sprinkle with half the sugar and the lemon juice. Toss to mix and leave for 20 minutes.
Using a slotted spoon, place the apple slices in the pre-baked pastry case. Mix the mint with the bilberries and then put them on top of the apple slices. Sprinkle with the remaining sugar and juices from the apples.

4. Place a pie blackbird, upturned china egg cup or similar in the centre of the tart.

5. Roll out the remaining pastry for the lid and place over the filling, sealing the edges. Make a slit in the centre of the pastry lid.

6. Bake in the oven for 35-40 minutes or until the apple slices are soft (check with a knife through one of the slits). Remove from the oven and allow the tart to rest and cool.

7. Place the icing sugar in a bowl and slowly add a few teaspoons of very hot water, mixing until you have the right consistency to drizzle over the pastry crust in no particular pattern. Decorate with fresh mint leaves.

Serve warm or at room temperature with cream or vanilla ice cream.

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