I think I’ve probably mentioned at some point or other that while I like to cook (a lot!), the one kind of food that I rarely make is dessert. It’s a combination of several reasons; I don’t have a particular sweet tooth, and in fact, usually crave salty, crunchy things (My weakness is crunchy, salty, melted cheesy things, like nachos, pizza or raclette). In a fine restaurant, you’ll often see me ordering the cheese plate for dessert. I also don’t have a lot of faith in my ability to get the exact measurements that cake baking requires (I tend to work on estimates, a dash of this, a splash of that, a handful of the other…). Finally, my mother admitted that she could never bake a pie. For all of us in our family, pie-making was a black art, a skill that my mother had never been able to gain, being a European immigrant from a place where they made strudel, tortes and palatschinken, but rarely tarts and never pies. Since I learned most of my early cooking from her, I also lacked the ability to make a pie.
So tonight, at the end of the summer, I decided that instead of the usual way that I’ve been dealing with the abundance blueberries this summer, due to the area’s bumper crop, I would throw together a little original dessert creation, which I’m going to call: Blueberry Custard Pie with Ginger Nut Crumb Crust. It’s dead easy, and if you also have some of those blueberries (or strawberries, bananas or other fruit that goes well with custard), this might be a good way to use them.
Blueberry Custard Pie with Ginger Nut Crumb Crust
For the crust:
1 package/roll of McVitie’s Ginger Nuts (their version of Ginger Snaps)
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled and cut into small pieces
For the filling:
3 tablespoons Bird’s Custard Powder
3 tablespoons sugar
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup water
2 cups fresh blueberries
Preheat the oven to 350° . Crush the cookies in a food processor (or put them in a bag and hit them with hammer, if you haven’t got one). After most of the bigger pieces have gotten broken down (about 10–12 pulses), add the butter, and process for another 15 seconds or so. Butter a pie plate and dump the crumbs onto it. Press it down on all sides so that it’s even. Bake in the oven for about 15–20 minutes, but be careful not to burn the crumbs.Let cool.
Make the custard: Put sugar and custard mix in a pan, and slowly wisk in milk and water. Bring to a full boil while stirring nearly continuously (custard will thicken as you cook it. This is essentially the recipe from the side of the can.). Let cool, covered, to just over room temperature.
Pour the custard over the crust, and top with the fruit. Serve after chilled. Resist the urge to eat it right away or the custard won’t let you cut nice neat slices. Which may or may not matter to you.
This is about as homely and ready-made as I ever get (Custard from a mix!? Cookie crumb crust!?) and has a 1950s-English-household feel to it (not surprising, given that 2 of the ingredients in it are British). However, I have to admit that it does taste awfully good, since the molasses and butter in the crust taste a bit like toffee, and the custard and blueberries go well together. While I don’t plan on making it for company, it is probably going to show up on the dinner table next summer, especially if we are getting as good a blueberry crop as this year’s.