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Auld Alliance Bramble Tarts

by James Morton

This recipe began as an attempt to simplify the classic French fruit tart. I like to break things down, in baking. If you split this particular recipe up into its component parts, it’s simple enough: pastry, custard & fresh fruit.

Prep time

1 hour and 20 minutes

Cook time

30 minutes






The easiest way to make this recipe would be to buy a pastry case, fill it with Ambrosia and top it with a pile of raspberries. Delicious, I’m sure, but not really in the spirit of the whole ‘baking’ thing. I’m not totally averse to using shop-bought (even ready-rolled) pastry, so please feel free to ignore my instructions on making it from scratch and concentrate on the crux of this recipe: the crème pâtissière. Just a fancy name for set custard, it’s a component that inspires fear but that’s actually dead easy. Just take your time – don’t be tempted to turn the heat up. And stir, stir, stir.

The superb Scottish blackberries are just for a bit of seasonal patriotism. Replace with any soft fruit of your choice.


Step 1

First, make the pastry. Weigh the flour into a bowl, then add in the cold butter, chopped up. Rub these together using your fingers until you’ve got something that looks like breadcrumbs.

Step 2

Add in your sugar and your egg, and mix everything together to make a dough. Wrap this in cling film and pop in the fridge for at least 30 minutes, or as long as you can.

Step 3

Whilst you’re waiting, preheat your oven to 180C/160C fan/Gas 4, and grease four wee tart tins. You can just as easily make one big tart.

Step 4

Once your pastry has rested, roll it out using plenty of flour on a floured work surface, until it is the thickness of a £1 coin. Cut your sheet into large circles that are bigger than your tins, then tuck each inside. You want 1cm hanging over the edge all the way around – don’t trim this.

Step 5

Prick the bottoms with a fork, and line them with baking paper and baking beans if you can be bothered (this will help stop the pastry puffing). Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until a dark golden brown colour. This is the only baking they’ll have, so make sure they’re crisp.

Step 6

Whilst your pastry is in the oven, make the ‘crème pat’. Place your milk in a saucepan and heat over a medium heat. Whilst that’s coming up to temperature, weigh your flour, sugar, vanilla and eggs into a bowl and whisk together into a paste.

Step 7

When your milk is simmering, add half into your bowl of eggy paste and whisk quickly to combine (don’t scramble those eggs!). Once mixed, add this back to the pan with the rest of the milk and place back on the heat. You want to properly simmer until thick and gloopy, stirring all the time.

Step 8

Once thick, remove the pan from the heat and add the butter. Stir to melt. Set aside as you trim the excess pastry off the side of your tart tins with a sharp knife. Remove the cases from the tins and then fill each with your delicious crème pat. Top with your blackberries, and leave to cool before serving.


Top Tip:

Once you’ve popped the fruit on top, these tarts are ready to serve, but they look extra special with a bit of shine. Heat a tablespoon of jam with a teaspoon of water in a pan over a low heat, stirring until combined and soft. Brush over your fruit for an easy glaze.

For a truly great pastry, leave it to rest in the fridge at least overnight, if not for a couple of days.



For the sweet pastry:

  • 250g plain flour
  • 125g Graham’s unsalted butter, cold
  • 75g icing sugar
  • 1 medium egg

For the crème pâtissière:

  • 500g (weigh it!) Graham’s whole milk
  • 6 egg yolks
  • 50g plain flour
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 120g caster sugar
  • 50g Graham’s unsalted butter

For the top:

  • 2 punnets of blackberries, or other soft fruit