Every once in a while, I bake something so adored, so beloved by the husband that he commands, “Thou shalt not share the leftovers with anyone.  Not neighbors, not colleagues, not friends.  No one.”  This is one such recipe.  (For the record, I don’t share these leftovers, but not because I’m following his bossy decrees.  It’s because in this case I happen to agree with him.)

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Random picture of the Palace of Westminster, home to Big Ben (which is the bell, not the clock or the tower) & the Houses of Parliament, taken from the London Eye on one of our many trips to England.

Classic First-Visit-to-England Story: Our first joint visit to England was when we were impoverished early-twenty-somethings.  We’d been dating about a year and we went over so I could meet his family and see his homeland.  We stayed in the husband’s hometown of Newark the entire two weeks, lodging with his parents.  One day we needed to do a load of laundry.  His mother offered to throw our things in the wash, so we thanked her and went off to do who-knows-what in town.  Fast-forward several hours: we walked in to find my future father-in-law IRONING MY NEWLY-WASHED UNDERWEAR!  It doesn’t matter that he’s an ex-Navy man who probably irons bed sheets, bath towels, and the whole family’s underwear (pointlessly, I would add) – I was mortified!  (Ridiculously, the husband once claimed to be “mortified” when I gave my father a Christmas present – probably a camouflage hunting shirt or something – in a screamingly pink Victoria’s Secret* box that happened to be just the right size and shape for the gift, but that doesn’t hold a candle to what will forever be known as The Knickers Incident.)

*For my British readers, Victoria’s Secret is America’s version of Ann Summers, but without all the, uh… accessories.

Treacle Tart

Recipe adapted from: Saveur Magazine, Oct. 2012, No. 150

Level of Difficulty: low, unless you add too much water to the crust dough and make it much more difficult for yourself, as I did

Time Consumption: low

Kitchen Destruction: low

Wow factor: moderate, especially if you tell them it came from Saveur (be sure to say that with a French accent to really up the wow factor).  Most Americans will wonder, “What’s treacle?”  We don’t really have that over here, adding to the tart’s mystique.  They may also wonder why an American-based magazine with a  French title is publishing an English dessert.

Dunno.  It’s Greek to me.

Ingredients:

  • 1½ C all-purpose flour
  • 8 TBS unsalted butter, divided into 6 TBS cubed and chilled; 2 TBS any ol’ way
  • ½ tsp Kosher salt, divided
  • 1 C Lyle’s Golden Syrup®* or molasses
  • 6 TBS bread crumbs – I prefer to use panko breadcrumbs
  • 3 TBS heavy cream
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • whipped cream, for serving (optional)

*I’ve never made this tart with molasses because I can get the golden syrup where I live, so I’m just guessing when I say this, but if you have access to both, use Lyle’s – it’s divine.

Treacle Tart (11)
The syrup tin can be washed out and turned into an exotic pen-holder.  Trés chic!  (Or as a Brit might say, “Smashing!”)

Directions:

Place flour, 6 TBS butter, and ¼ tsp salt in a bowl; rub the mixture between your fingers (or be less messy and use a pastry blender, like me) until pea-size crumbles form.  Add ¼ C ice water and stir until dough forms.**

** Be patient and keep working the water in.  If you feel you MUST add more water to incorporate all the flour mixture, do so very sparingly, otherwise later on the dough will be much too sticky and difficult to work with.

Treacle Tart (2)
I heart my pastry blender

Transfer dough to a work surface and form into a flat disk.  Wrap in plastic wrap and chill for one hour.

Treacle Tart (3)
Disk.  Amorphous blob.  Whatever.

Meanwhile, heat syrup in a 2-qt. saucepan over medium heat until loose.

Treacle Tart (4)
Try to avoid pouring it directly into your mouth

Remove from heat; stir in remaining 2 TBS butter and ¼ tsp salt, bread crumbs, cream, eggs, and zest.  Set filling aside.

Treacle Tart (16)
Portioning out and setting up your ingredients like this is called “mise en place.”  It’s the golden rule in French cooking, but can be applied to everything you make.  Though it can be a bit fussy on the front end – and yes, it creates more dishes in the form of little ramekins – it makes the entire process easier and more enjoyable, not to mention scratching a certain itch for the Type-A’s among us.
Treacle Tart (18)
Don’t taste – there’s rawish egg in there!

Heat the oven to 375° F.  Using a rolling pin, roll the dough into an 11″ circle; transfer to a 9″ tart pan with removable bottom.  Trim excess dough and refrigerate 30 minutes.

Treacle Tart (8)
My dough was so sticky I needed a plastic wrap barrier
Treacle Tart (9)
Once upturned, it was also really hard to separate the parchment from the dough.  Merde!/Bollocks!

Prick the bottom with a fork; cover with a sheet of parchment paper.  Fill with pie weights or dried beans and bake until crust is set, about 20 minutes.

Treacle Tart (19)
If you are quarantined due to Corona virus and run out of food, you can always eat your pie weights.

Remove parchment paper and weights/beans; bake until light brown, about 10 minutes.  Pour filling into tart shell and bake until filling is just set, about 30 minutes.

Treacle Tart (23)

Confessions of an imperfect baker:  See those pockmarks in the tart’s surface?  Those aren’t supposed to be there.  As I mentioned above, I got impatient incorporating the cold water into my flour mixture and ended up adding way too much.  Not only did this make my dough very sticky and hard to work with, it also made the crust slightly less fantastic than it normally is.  Also, while I’m no scientician, I have a feeling the excess liquid is what caused the “craters of the moon” effect on this tart.  I think steam was trying to escape from my overly watery crust and it bubbled to the surface.  (I’m writing my Nobel Prize for Culinary Physics acceptance speech as you read this.)  Neither the flavor nor the texture was affected, but if somewhere there exists a Wall of Baking Shame, this picture should be on it.


Has your future opposite-sex in-law ever ironed your underwear?  Do you have a comparable story with bras, lingerie… anything?  Fess up!

24 thoughts

  1. To my still-American ear, treacle tart has always sounded off-putting. I’m not going to even try to explain that. It’s one of those things that just is. Sort of like clotted cream, although believe me, I learned to get over my prejudices.

    I love the imperfection of your work and your description. It’s much more inviting than when show you the whatever that’s so perfect you suspect it’s covered in hairspray to keep it upright.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Amen to that. I think you read this just before I made an update to the post, and as an American transplant in England, you’ll appreciate the change: I realized my British readers probably wouldn’t know what Victoria’s Secret is, so I called it a (toned down) version of Ann Sommers.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. You’re probably right and (I’m saying a lot about the contents of my [unironed] underwear drawer here) I’m only guessing by the context what Ann Sommers is. I suspect even the most OCD ironing fiend would look at my underwear and not bother.

        We’d both be happier that way.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. The British do great breakfasts, puddings and afternoon tea. I occasionally make my husband a steamed treacle pudding, no one but him gets a look in. I suspect it might be the same with treacle tart, it certainly is when I make a Bakewell one.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ooh, Bakewell tart. Is it hard to make? I should definitely try to make one after finally making it to Bakewell last summer. I prefer the iced kind with the cherry on top (I know this is a very controversial topic in England), but both kinds were fantastic. Which kind do you make?

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I love treacle tart AND I haven’t had any Lyle’s Syrup in years. How dare show me these two delicious glimpses into my past before 8:00 a.m. in the morning. Your tub of pie weights looks like ours. And the story about your knickers is funny, but you know my stance on ironing… so weird, too.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hmmm… to me, corn syrup has always been a hidden ingredient and not the star of the show. I would be reluctant to use that. It might just taste sweet with no depth of flavor. Honey, in addition to really altering the taste, probably wouldn’t set up right. The husband also mentioned that different sugar syrups have different water contents, which might affect things. Amazon.com sells Lyle’s. I just checked online: $22 for 4 tins, which amounts to about what I pay in the store. (Imported, so a little expensive.) I would go that route, but if you experiment with the other things, do report back!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. First off, the tart looks amazing. I wouldn’t share leftovers either, and if push came to shove, I would flat out lie and say there weren’t any.

    Hilarious underwear story. I think the Victoria’s Secret pink box was just payback under the circumstances.

    Also: I hope England’s Newark is a hell of a lot nicer than New Jersey’s Newark.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. So between this comment and your recent post about the military guy in the grocery store, I’m sensing a willingness to, shall we say, bend the truth as the need arises? 🙂

      I haven’t been to Newark, NJ, so I can’t compare the two. Newark, England, is a nice town but not really on anyone’s tourist radar. They do have a nice castle ruin where King John died.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I saw first mention of it in Harry Potter and always wanted to try it, along with other uniquely British dishes. Love your “kitchen destruction” score. Lol.

    Like

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