Every time I make this treacle tart, friends and family ask for the recipe.  I have waited a while to publish my first ‘pastry’ post because I am a bit obsessive about the stuff.  I just love a tart !  Savoury ones are great and you just cannot beat a very well made, authentic
Quiche Lorraine for a weekend lunch. Ultimately though, my first love is a sweet tart and I nearly always include one when entertaining.  A few top ten favourites are tart au citron, pear & frangipane and good old Bakewell tart but this treacle tart is the winner every time.

First of all the filling.  No breadcrumbs here. I take inspiration from Bruce Poole’s book of the same name. He has a wonderful restaurant in South London, Chez Bruce and apparantly this is one of their most popular puddings. It’s the combination of golden syrup, eggs, double cream and gound almonds that gives you the light texture and a richness which is not cloying but still a wonderful treat.

The pastry is a whole subject on it’s own.  I have tried lots of combinations of Trex (vegetable fat), butter, margarine with plain flour, eggs, water, ground almonds and caster sugar. This Christmas I was thrilled to be given Richard Bertinet’s brilliant book Pastry. I followed his technique and recipe to the enth degree. You can even go on U tube and watch his tutorial !  So, I am going to put my head on the block here and tell you that I will now not make any other type of sweet pastry. Follow his exact method, placing the pastry in greaseproof paper and allow it to relax properly in the fridge. I can assure you that you will be able to handle the pastry shell and the finished result will be elegant with a sublime, buttery taste.

Sweet Shortcrust Pastry – makes 2 shells made in 20 cm rings (4 cm deep)
Ingredients –
350 g plain flour
125 g butter – cold
125 g caster sugar
2 eggs + 1 yolk
pinch of salt

Place the flour and salt in a Magimix or Kenwood. Cut the butter into small dice and add to the bowl. Being very cautious, pulse the contents until the butter is about the size of your little finger nail. Add the sugar, pulse briefly. Add the eggs and yolk and again pulse briefly.
The dough will come together. Stop.
On a floured surface, bring the dough together gently and press down with your thumbs. Turn clockwise and repeat the gentle pressing. Do this no more than four or five times. The dough will then be like plasticine. Turn it on it’s side and knock it against the work surface to give it a straight edge all round.  Do not use too much flour on the work surface as it will alter the texture and consistency of the finished pastry.
Wrap the pastry in greaseproof paper as if you were wrapping a present and rest in the fridge for at least 1 hour, preferably longer.  Don’t use cling film as it makes the pastry sweaty. If you are in a hurry, pop in the freezer for 15 – 30 minutes.

When you are ready to cook the pastry shell, pre-heat the oven to 170C. AGA owners, no suprise, will use the baking oven.
I run my hands under the cold tap, then dry then thoroughly. On a clean work surface scatter a thin sprinkling of plain flour. Remove the pastry from the fridge and cut it in half. You can, if you prefer, freeze the pastry you don’t use. Using a rolling pin, carefully press and roll, turning clock wise all the time. This will give you a round shape. You are aiming for a thickness of about 3 mm. You may need to scatter more flour on the work surface and also on the rolling pin. Work as quickly as you can but enjoy it ! It should not be a stressful process!
Grease the tart ring with soft butter and then lift the pastry over the ring. Carefully press it into the bottom of the tin but leave an overhang of about an inch. This will be trimmed off later. Prick the base of the pastry shell all over with a fork then line it with greaseproof paper and baking beans. Bake for 10 minutes then carefully remove the paper and beans, return to the oven and bake for a further 4 minutes. Remove to a cool place until you are ready to fill the tart.

Treacle Tart – serves 8-10
A pastry shell that you will make from half of the quantity above.
680 g golden syrup
280 g ground almonds
280 ml double cream
3 medium eggs, lightly beaten

Method –
Pre-heat the oven to 150C. If you are an AGA owner, you will use the baking oven.
Mix the ground almonds and syrup together in a large bowl. Add the cream and then the beaten eggs. Avoid over mixing. Stir rather than whisk as you don’t want too much air in the mixture. Pour into the baked tart shell and cook for 35 minutes. If the pastry is cooking too much, gently cover the tart with a dome of foil. Rest for at least an hour then trim the excess pastry from the edge with a sharp knife. This will give you a professional finish. Serve with double cream or creme fraiche. This is the most fabulous pudding you will make again and again.

I would love to hear from anyone who would like to make a comment.

Next time – JUGGED HARE


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