It’s interesting how you picture a kind of food in your mind that doesn’t belong to your culture, you don’t know what it’s made of or where it comes from. You read about it in books and conceive an image, the image stays on, you don’t know if it’s right or wrong, but you know just the sound of it is so delicious. Words, they can even make a not so delicious piece of cake sound delicious.
Reading Enid Blyton as a child was ironically torturous. I would read about all these mouthwatering things to eat, like jam tarts, chocolate squares, ginger pops and trifles but they were always unattainable. I mean, the woman made hard boiled eggs sound delicious.
One such delectable mystery was the treacle tart. I didn’t know what a tart meant as a child, how was I supposed to know what treacle was? But every time I began to read an Enid Blyton book, I looked forward to bumping into those two words, “treacle” and “tart”. I just loved the idea of a treacle tart. I loved imagining it.
I don’t meant to take away the fact that Blyton popularized treacle tarts to salivating children like myself who didn’t grow up in the UK, but she’s not the only one who spoke of it in her books. There’s a mention of it in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle and of course, it’s omnipresent in the Harry Potter series. I am quite sure it has been talked about in so many other books that I don’t know about.
I wanted to do myself a favour and solve the mystery, now that I have access to excessive information and I’m privy to all kinds of cook books. If I am making a traditional English dessert, I look nowhere beyond the Godmother of English desserts, Mary Berry. She somehow makes baking seem so simple and effortless. And as for the treacle tart, it’s not something that might instantly get you hooked, but it does grow on you, one bite after the other.
For the shortcrust pastry
- 175 g plain flour
- 75 g butter
- 3 tbsp cold water
For the filling
- 200 g bread crumbs (white or brown
- 350 ml golden syrup
- 2 lemons, juice and zest
- In a processor, combine flour butter and water. Pulse till the mixture becomes sandy.
- Tip the mixture on a work surface, bring it together, flatten it and wrap it with a cling film. Refrigerate for 20 minutes. Preheat the oven to 200 C and place a baking sheet in the oven.
- For the filling, bring the golden syrup to the boil in a saucepan. Add the bread crumb, lemon juice and zest. Simmer till the mixture thickens.
- Remove the pastry from the fridge and roll it out to fit a 7 inch loose bottomed tart tin.
- Place the rolled pastry on the tin, cut the excess out. Tuck the pastry neatly to the tin. Add the filling to the pastry shell and level it.
- Bake in the oven at 200 C for 10 minutes. Lower the temperature to 180 C and bake for another 25-30 minutes until the tart has browned and the filling has set.
- Serve warm or cold with ice cream or crème fraiche.
Recipe source: Mary Berry’s Baking Bible