My first real challenge: Mary Berry’s treacle tart with woven lattice top

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The History

Treacle Tart is odd.  It doesn’t have any treacle in it!

Treacle Tart’s key ingredient is actually Golden Syrup, which makes this delightfully British desert, fairly young, as it was only “invented” with the advent of the gold syrup in the 1880s.

There are not many records of Treacle Tart, as we know it, throughout history, although there are records of a Treacle Tart dating back to 1879, but that features actual treacle and multiple layers of pastry.

But I guess, the modern-day tart, must have stemmed from tarts using real treacle, however, I can imagine they must have tasted rather rancid.  Treacle is one ingredient from which I’m never keen to lick the spoon!  Once upon a time, treacle was used for medicinal purposes, as it was considered good for the blood and therefore used in antidotes to poisons.

Heston Blumenthal in his book Total Perfection mentions a 17th century ‘tart of bread’ where treacle is mixed with bread, spices and dried fruit and baked in an open pastry shell.  That’s pretty close.

Mary’s recipe below doesn’t include Treacle.  And from researching the Tart, there are not a lot of recipes that do.  Although there are a few, which do include it, as with a little squeeze of lemon and a tablespoon of black treacle, it works to cut through the sweetness.

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My experience

Sadly, the BBC have taken down the videos of the Treacle Tart Masterclass, and the recipe page on the BBC website adds little further advice.  Instead, you can check out two other blogs that have attempted this challenge for their tips and experience.  lindsaymarsh.wordpress.com and mrschristine.com – both these ladies created beautiful tarts.  Better than mine.  Read more about my experience under “The Taste”, following the recipe..

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The Recipe

30 mins to 1 hour preparation time

30 mins to 1 hour cooking time

Serves 8

Treacle tart is made with golden syrup, breadcrumbs and lemon to cut through the sweetness. Serve with crème fraiche.

Ingredients

For the pastry
  • 250g/9oz plain flour
  • 130g/4½oz butter, plus extra for greasing
For the filling
  • 400g/14oz golden syrup
  • 150g/5½oz fine fresh white breadcrumbs
  • 2 lemons, zest and juice
  • 1 free-range egg, beaten, to use as egg wash

 

Preparation method

  1. First make the short crust pastry: measure the flour into a large bowl and rub in the butter with your fingertips until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs (alternatively, this can be done in a food processor). Add about three tablespoons of cold water and mix to a firm dough, wrap in cling film and chill in the fridge for about 20 minutes.
  2. Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas 6 and put a heavy baking tray in the oven to heat up. Grease a deep 18cm/7in loose-bottomed fluted flan tin with butter.
  3. Remove about 150g/5½oz of pastry from the main ball and set aside for the lattice top.
  4. Roll the rest of the pastry out thinly on a lightly floured work surface and line the prepared flan tin with the pastry.
  5. Prick the base with a fork, to stop the base rising up during baking.
  6. Place the reserved pastry for the lattice top on cling film and roll out thinly. Egg wash the pastry and set aside to chill in the fridge (the cling film makes it easier to move about). Do not cut into strips at this stage. Do not egg wash the strips once they are on the tart as it will drip into the treacle mixture.
  7. To make the filling, heat the syrup gently in a large pan but do not boil.
  8. Once melted, add the breadcrumbs, lemon juice and zest to the syrup. (You can add less lemon if you would prefer less citrus taste.) If the mixture looks runny, add a few more breadcrumbs.
  9. Pour the syrup mixture into the lined tin and level the surface.
  10. Remove the reserved pastry from the fridge and cut into long strips, 1cm/½in wide. Make sure they are all longer than the edges of the tart tin.
  11. Egg wash the edge of the pastry in the tin, and start to make the woven laying lattice pattern over the mixture, leave the strips hanging over the edge of the tin.
  12. Once the lattice is in place, use the tin edge to cut off the strips by pressing down with your hands, creating a neat finish.
  13. Bake on the pre-heated baking tray in the hot oven for about 10 minutes until the pastry has started to colour, and then reduce the oven temperature to 180C/350F/Gas 4. If at this stage the lattice seems to be getting too dark brown, cover the tart with tin foil.
  14. Bake for a further 25-30 minutes until the pastry is golden-brown and the filling set.
  15. Remove the tart from the oven and leave to firm up in the tin. Serve warm or cold.

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The Taste

Stress is not conducive to a good bake.  FACT.  Bakes are like flowers.  You have to love them.  Talk to them.  They cannot be rushed.  Like dogs sense fear.  Bakes sense stress.  They soak it up.  You cut into your cake, and you can feel it.  You can feel the bake wasn’t made with love.  It’s like an unwanted litter.  The poor bake that was never loved.

This was my Treacle Tart.  The runt of the pack!

I was time pressured.  It was like I was actually on GBBO.  The heating in our house was on full whack.  My hands were, for some reason, like radiators.  And this led to pastry pandemonium.

I’m not too bad at pastry.  But this was a disaster.  I couldn’t roll it.  I couldn’t mould it.  I found myself actually doing what they do on the telly, filling in the holes with little bits of dusty, crumbly pastry.  It was a shambles.  It was Comic Relief GBBO.  I was Jo Brand.

But I soldiered on.  It was either that, or admit defeat, get in the car, head to Waitrose and claim their tart as my own.  But NO!  That would be cheating.  So I continued . . .

The filling tasted nice enough, when I had a sneaky lick of the spoon.  But I think, I made another faux-pas with the tin, it was a little too big.  Which meant the filling was too shallow.  Which meant it baked too quick.  Which led to a slightly dry tart.  Some of it reminded me of when you fancy a warm mince-pie, and quickly nuke it, and it ends up over cooked and oddly chewy.

Oh dear.  This challenge caught me out.  I was so prepared for a delicious pudding to serve after Sunday lunch.  But instead, I was, and I hate this, disappointed.  So disappointed.  It wasn’t Mary Berry’s fault.  Although I do partly blame the BBC for removing the “masterclass” videos from You Tube.  It was my fault.  Baking in a hurry.  Using the wrong tin.  Drinking wine whilst baking . . . . whoops!

Alas.  It looked ok.  My lattice top looked alright.  But I would make it again.  And next time, I will crack it.  I will conquer this one, quite easily I think.  So, this challenge will be revisited.  Watch this space . . .

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11 thoughts on “My first real challenge: Mary Berry’s treacle tart with woven lattice top

  1. Looks superb to me, and lovely photographs as always 🙂 I still have to do the focaccia bread! I will do that very soon. I’m working through a list of recipes, aiming to make three different things from scratch per week – it’s been hard work for me lol.

    • Thank you so much. I clearly put myself down too much! The Focaccia is probably still one of my favourites that I have completed so far. It’s really delicious and so easy. But good for you on your own challenge. What are you cooking this week? Good Luck!

      • Thanks 😀 On the menu this week is
        Starter: tomato and cheese bruschetta,
        Main: cheese and bean quesadillas and finally
        Dessert: walnut & cinnamon blondies

        I spread the recipes across the week, with the intention of building up my skills so I can create three course meals for guests without a problem 🙂

  2. You write with Wit . My problem with cooking is wine . I should stick to just adding it to the dishes !
    Empathise with tin being too big . Who has all the correct sizes . Someone invent an adjustable sized tin .

  3. Just stopping by after a quick google about treacle tart.
    I couldn’t agree more about stress making for a bad bake, I’ve always said I can’t bake stressed as it just doesn’t work!
    Thanks for an interesting read, hope you cracked this recipe in the end?!

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