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.
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..
30 mins to 1 hour preparation time
30 mins to 1 hour cooking time
Treacle tart is made with golden syrup, breadcrumbs and lemon to cut through the sweetness. Serve with crème fraiche.
- 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.
- 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.
- Remove about 150g/5½oz of pastry from the main ball and set aside for the lattice top.
- Roll the rest of the pastry out thinly on a lightly floured work surface and line the prepared flan tin with the pastry.
- Prick the base with a fork, to stop the base rising up during baking.
- 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.
- To make the filling, heat the syrup gently in a large pan but do not boil.
- 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.
- Pour the syrup mixture into the lined tin and level the surface.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Bake for a further 25-30 minutes until the pastry is golden-brown and the filling set.
- Remove the tart from the oven and leave to firm up in the tin. Serve warm or cold.
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 . . .