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.)
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.
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.
- 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.
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.
Transfer dough to a work surface and form into a flat disk. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill for one hour.
Meanwhile, heat syrup in a 2-qt. saucepan over medium heat until loose.
Remove from heat; stir in remaining 2 TBS butter and ¼ tsp salt, bread crumbs, cream, eggs, and zest. Set filling aside.
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.
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.
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.
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!