Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Treacle Tart

Back in my kitchen today.

I was planning on cooking with my little Easy Bake Oven, only to discover it doesn't come with a light-bulb to cook with! So I dig around my home trying to find a incandescent light-bulb only to realize I've been thwarted by my own environmental consciousness.

Blasted compact florescent bulbs! Curse you for denying me mini Funfetti cakes coated in frosting made from powder!

So I swallowed my disappointment and decided I would cook in my real oven.

Today we're making a treacle tart, a classic English treat. A dessert I have never actually tasted.

Now usually, when I cook on the blog I have some familiarity with what I'm making. That way I have some idea of how it should turn out. However with this dessert, I'm embarrassed to admit that my only familiarity with it is through Harry Potter (not exactly a prime culinary reference) and a chance encounter with the cooler case at Waitrose. So I hit up my blogger friend and Englishman, Mr. P for help. He advised me that if I wanted to be traditional, I should avoid recipes where the filling has been softened with cream or eggs, and so I have.

If you're comfortable with making pie crusts, you'll find this tart very simple and easy to make. The tart is filled with a mixture of breadcrumbs, treacle and a bit of lemon and/or ginger. The filling is... different. Firm and sweet, with the flavors of slightly caramelized sugar and brightened with the lemon and ginger.

Served warm or cold, it is best with a creamy accompaniment. Serve it up with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, clotted cream or my favorite, gobs of lightly sweetened whipped cream.

Treacle Tart

yields one 9" tart, serves 6-8


150g all purpose flour
113g cold unsalted butter, cubed
pinch salt
5-6 tablespoons ice cold water


235g golden syrup*
215g fresh white breadcrumbs*
zest of a large lemon
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tsp ground ginger

Egg Wash:
1 large egg
1 teaspoon of water

*Note on the ingredients: Fresh breadcrumbs are not the same as those dry powdery breadcrumbs in a can. To make fresh breadcrumbs, use any slightly stale white bread you can find. Remove the crusts, toss into a food processor and pulse until light and fluffy. If your bread is too fresh, it may not work well in your machine, becoming dense and gummy. To turn fresh bread into crumbs, place the bread in a warm oven until slightly crusty, before processing.

If you lack a food processor, grate chunks of slightly stale bread with a box grater.

Golden Syrup is widely available, however in many parts of the United States it can be difficult to find. Many large grocery chains do carry small tins of Lyle's Golden Syrup either with the pancake syrups or on the baking aisle. You can also order it online from Amazon's Grocery & Gourmet Food.

In the bowl of your food processor, combine the flour, cubed butter and salt. Pulse until the bits of butter are a tad smaller than peas. Pulse in the water, adding a little at a time. Use just enough water to bind the dough.

Gather up the crumbs and form a ball, then wrap in plastic. Allow the dough to rest in the refrigerator for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, pre-heat your oven to 375°F. Add the golden syrup to a medium sauce pan and place over medium-low heat. Swirl the syrup until it is warm and fluid. Add the remaining ingredients and mix to combine. Set aside and work on the crust.

Roll out 2/3rds of the dough and drape it over your tart pan. Roll out the remaining third of the dough into a rectangular sheet and then cut ribbons from it with either a knife or a fluted ravioli cutter.

Fill the tart with the breadcrumbs mixture and smooth.

Drape the strips over the tart to form a lattice (for a handy how-to click here)

Go around the edge of the pan pressing against the edge to trim off the extra crust and seal together the crust and lattice.

Lightly beat the egg and one teaspoon of water. Brush the pastry with the egg wash and then bake for 25-30 minutes until the pastry is golden brown.

Now, I'm not sure how this tart holds up against other treacle tarts (though there really isn't much variation between recipes), tarts made by folks who know what they're doing. So I can't say if this tart is representational, but I'm really not head over heels in love with it. It is certainly edible, but it is a little on the dull side. The Little Humble doesn't seem to agree with me and is gobbling down hunks of it as I type, but I keep trying to think of things I could do to liven up the flavor and the texture.

Now I'm off to find a light bulb!


  1. your pie is a complete is gorgeous...just beautiful...the lattice exquisite...perfect!!
    i think i am in love...i had never heard of this pie but i am willing to try it...
    & i have seen mr. p commenting on your blog & have just added his blog to my favorites!
    so i for one am glad that you could not find a light bulb!!

  2. I was just thinking last night that I needed to find a recipe for treacle tart (...after reading Harry Potter again)! You read my mind and made my day!! Thank you! :D

  3. I told Mr. P this already - but when I was young and read Alice in Wonderland I read about treacle and from her description, I thought it was something akin to road tar. Asphalt, treacle -- don't know where I got that image ... maybe a drawn illustration where she was covered in goo? Or I mixed it up with the tar baby in Brer Rabbit?

    At any rate, it's good to know that it is edible after all.

  4. We had an Enid Blyton collection of stories when I was a girl and they all seemed to mention treacle tart. It always sounded delicious. Maybe it's like Turkish sounds good, but doesn't live up to my imagination.

  5. So pretty and such interesting flavors. I am going to have to try this one out. I just don't think I could ever get anything to come out so pretty. Your blog is a beauty. Thanks for sharing.

  6. I've never heard of this pie before. Your lattice work is admirable. Wow.

  7. Sigh, treacle. The word alone brings me back to Alice (of Wonderland fame) and my summer at Oxford trying to find the treacle well. Yay to you for a yummy gorgeous tart and for conjuring memories!

  8. I love treacle tart - I used to eat it all the time as a kid. I do use some cream and eggs in mine - I think it's much nicer and I'm sure the ones I've always eaten are softened too. I also use a lot more golden syrup to breadcrumbs - my recipe is 500g syrup to 125g crumbs. Have a lot if you like, it's

    The lattice work is perfect! (Though I have to admit, I've never seen lattice on a treacle tart before, but that's probably just my bit of England!)

  9. your lattice work is golden syrup here...

  10. That pie looks beautiful. I do know what you mean about not always finding treacle tart that interesting. My parents go nuts over it and the last time they visited me in Edinburgh they would not stop singing the praises of a particular treacle tart they had for dessert one lunchtime. Apparently adding a wee bit of orange zest really helps it along and adds that something-something.

  11. That's the nicest looking lattice I've ever seen! I love golden syrup, but I've never made this, as the bread crumbs turned me off a bit. Glad your daughter is enjoying it, though!

  12. Your lattice is perfection. This pie looks beautiful although like you, I have never tasted this particular kind! I think Mr. P is a good man to hit up for advice on these kinds of treats. :)

  13. This reminds me of the Galloping Gourmets treacle tart that I saw him make one time... did you get influence from that episode at all?

  14. Your lattice is gorgeous!! Thanks for sharing an interesting recipe :)

  15. yummy! i am moving to oxford, uk next month... i think i will need to master this local dish :) i can make them for neighbors when i move in. ha!

  16. Ahh reminds me of my childhood!
    I used to make it from my mother's "Good Housekeeping Basic Cook Book" circa 1968 ( the book, not me. I came along a while later).
    That recipe was very close to this, but we used to brush the top with milk as money was tight and squandering a whole egg just to brush a wee bit over a pie crust was unforgivable! :-)

  17. I never understood why it was called treacle tart but didn't actually contain any of the viscous black goo. In our house treacle was reserved for adding that certain something to gingerbread (the cake kind not the biscuit kind).

  18. @Katherine--me, too! Moonface and Silky were always offering treacle to the children. I always imagined it akin to toffee (their other favorite treat), and was horribly disappointed to find out it was pronounced "treakle" and not "treasel."

    @Mrs. Humble--I'm still excited to taste this, despite your reservations. question about the lemon and/or ginger: would you imagine that it was better one or the other or both? I'm not the biggest fan of ginger but do want to make the best representation of treacle tart possible.

  19. You can omit the ginger all together. Ginger isn't used in all traditional treacle tart recipes, some tarts just use lemon.

    I would also consider Poires au Chocolat's comment and recipe at I'm leaning towards the higher ratio of syrup to crumbs and the softening effect of eggs and cream. I'll probably try the recipe myself soon. I just need to get a hold of another can of golden syrup.

  20. ooh you should make banoffee pie too!

  21. So beautiful. I always wondered what was the filling in treacle tart when I see it repeatedly in the Harry Potter books.

  22. Something about this reminds me of the Bread Pudding we make here in Jamaica. We use cubed stale bread with raisins and milk though. It's served with a Rum Sauce mmmmm. I think I should make some next week (have to save up bread pieces)

  23. I'm not a big fan of treacle tart (I seem to remember trying in when I lived in the UK). It is just too sweet for me. It is very reminiscent of pecan pie without the crunchy, lovely pecans. :)

  24. Wow this looks much better then my attempt (which was first for so admittedly not that bad). Treacle Tart was a curiousity basically from Harry Potter and I just wanted to see what it was. I found it abit too sweet too but I wasn't sure if that was just me making it wrong. I love that lattice you have it looks beautiful. I need one of them ravioli cutter thingies :D This blog looks great! Can't wait to read more of it!

  25. I do happen to know what this should taste like and it's really something that is raised to a higher plane when accompanied with custard.
    As for ingredients, I just found myself a can of Lyons Black Syrup while in Seattle, which I knew in my head was an essential ingredient to a top notch treacle tart. But now I have the oh-so-rare-in-the-US black syrup, I can't find a recipe that gives me the dark to golden syrup ratio. Argh.


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