You may not have heard of him, but in 1875 Henry Tate, from Tate and Lyle introduced sugar cubes to the UK. We should have a national holiday named after him. Anyway, if that wasn’t enough he then started melting the sugar to create one of my favourite things – golden syrup.
Geeky fact – I work in marketing and specialise in branding so I was fascinated to learn that the iconic green and golden syrup tins feature the worlds oldest branding! At 132 years old, these tins of joy have been a staple in British baking ever since.
My family are originally from Zimbabwe and when my parents were younger the family used to drive to the South African coast for their holidays. One of my mum’s fondest memories from these trips is the taste of Golden Syrup. More imports were available in SA and the family would buy a tin every year. As a result golden syrup became associated with holidays and family celebrations. This is a tradition that the Ferguson’s continue today. We make syrup steamed pudding for our Christmas dessert, we bake Russian squares with it and every year we douse pancakes in it for pancake day.
Treacle tart is a really easy dessert to make (especially if you have a food processor) and unlike the shop bought varieties which can be a bit sickly the lemon and the ginger used in this recipe cut through the sweetness to create something that Henry Tate would hopefully be proud of.
- 250 g plain flour
- 125 g cold butter, cubed
- 90 g caster sugar
- 1 large egg
- 450 g golden syrup (this is the size of a traditional syrup tin)
- 95 g fresh fine white breadcrumbs*
- 1 tsp ground ginger
- 2 lemons, zested
- To serve: 1 tub of créme fraiche, custard, ice cream
If you are making this dessert for the evening start 2-3 hours ahead of time as the pastry needs plenty of time to rest and the tart needs to cool before serving.
Making the pastry
- If you have a food processor you’re in luck as you can use this to make the pastry and bread crumbs.
- You can make the pastry by hand, but the challenge with doing this is that you can overwork the pastry which will make it tough.
- In a food processor combine the flour and butter together until it resembles breadcrumbs. You can do this with your hands in the same way that you’d make a crumble topping.
- Once you have breadcrumbs, stir in the sugar, zest of one lemon and egg and mix until everything begins to come together.
- Be careful not to overwork the pastry at this stage.
- Wrap the pastry in cling film and leave it to rest in the fridge for an hour.
- After an hour take the dough out of the fridge. On a lightly floured work surface, roll out the pastry until its diameter is big enough to cover your pastry tin.
- Carefully lay the pastry over the tart case and press into the edges – trim off the extra pastry and keep this aside for decorations.
- Now it is time to blind bake your pastry. This is really important in avoiding the dreaded cardinal bake off sin the soggy bottom!
- Once your pastry is in the tin prick the bottom with a fork. Take a large square piece of baking paper and place this over the pastry.
- Place some baking beans, dried rice or dried chickpeas over the paper and leave to rest again in the fridge for 30mins-1hour.
- Pre-heat the oven to 180°C
- After the pastry has come out of the fridge for the second time you’re ready to start baking.
- Bake the case for 15mins, then remove the paper and beans/rice/chickpeas and cook for a further 5mins.
- Turn the oven temperature down to 150°C.
To make the treacle mix
- In a bowl, mix together the syrup, bread crumbs, zest of one lemon and the juice of half a lemon.
Bringing it all together
- Add the mix to the part baked pastry case and return to the oven for 30-35mins.
- This is the hardest part. Leave to cool completely before serving.
Making your own bread crumbs
Some people use stale bread to make bread crumbs, but I’ve read that this stale taste can make its way into a bake. So to be on the safe side I like to use fresh bread (crusts and all) sliced and cooked on a baking tray in a low oven for a few mins until it has dried out. I then use a food processor to blitz the bread until it resembles fine bread crumbs. I then place it back into the oven (warm, but switched off) to continue to dry out whilst I get everything else ready. I find that 125g of fresh white bread made 95g of bread crumbs.
Decorating your tart
With your left over pastry I like to decorate the top of the treacle tart. Whilst a lattice design is traditional, I find it a bit of a faff so I like to decorate my tart with hearts! To do this I roll out the leftover pastry and cut out your pattern of choice. I place this onto a baking tray lined with baking paper and bake on the shelf below the tart whilst the tart is blind-baking. Then once the treacle mix is in the case, top with your extra pastry choice and bake as normal. Another reason why I like to do this is it helps me gage when the pastry is ready.