Bilberries are a delicious fruit found growing wild in the north and west of the British Isles on high ground. The season for them is very short between August and September. The raw fruits are a little acidic but when cooked with sugar become a delicious, deep-flavored fruit perfect for pies and for jams.
Bilberries are often mistaken for the blueberry, they look very similar but the bilberry is smaller and firmer, less juice when raw but released a lot when cooked.
Bilberry Pie is a classic British pie loved throughout the North of England particularly in Yorkshire. Serve it warm with thick cream or a good vanilla ice-cream - delicious.
- For the Pastry:
- 300g./3 1/2 cups flour (plain/all-purpose)
- 150g./5 oz. butter (or a mixture of butter and lard)
- 3-4 tablespoons water (cold)
- For the Filling:
- 100g./3 1/2 oz. sugar (fine or caster)
- 500g./1lb. 2 oz.apples (cooking variety, peeled, cored, and quartered)
- 25g./1 oz. butter (plus extra for greasing pie dish)
- 200g./7 oz. bilberries (washed and lightly dried)
- 1 egg (lightly beaten)
- 2 tablespoons sugar (fine/caster)
Preheat the oven to 200 C/400 F/Gas 6.
Butter a 22cm (9") ovenproof dish.
Make the pastry via the following instructions or use a premade pastry.
Once the pastry is rested divide into two. Roll out one half into a circle to line the pie dish. Roll out the remaining pastry into another circle large enough to cover the pie dish and cut into 2.5cm/ 1 " strips.
Place the pie dish and strips into the fridge for 20 minutes.
Place the sugar into a large baking bowl. Take the apple quarters and slice thickly then add to the sugar and mix together.
Melt the butter in a large saucepan over a gentle heat. Add the apple and sugar mixture and cook for 5 minutes. Add the bilberries and cook for a further 2 minutes. Leave to cool.
Fill the pie dish with the cooled fruit mixture, weave the pastry strips onto the top of the pie filling to create a lattice and seal the edges by crimping together tightly.
Brush the pastry top with a little lightly beaten egg then sprinkle with the fine/caster sugar.
Bake for 20 minutes, until the crust is golden-brown and the fruit tender.
Serve with thick cream or ice cream.