Treacle Tart

Classic Treacle tart first gets a mention in cook books dating back more than one hundred years.  It is one of my favourite bakes but so often there is too much sweetness and little or no flavour. This recipe is gorgeous - you will not be disappointed and to give it a contemporary twist I have added a natural lemon crumb to sprinkle over the finished tart which adds a touch of beauty but also a zingy crunch.   Use golden syrup with a little black treacle (for a darker tart) or alternatively maple syrup. I like to serve this tart slightly warm with a blob of ice-cream or freshly whipped double cream.


Start by making the fruit crumb as it needs an hour to dry and crisp up in a dry warm place – or a low oven at 50 degrees c). Simply finely zest the lemon and stir the zests and sugar together on a wide plate or bowl then spread out. Leave in a warm place or a low oven and allow to dry. The crumb will become hard and can be broken down into a small crumb using the back of a fork. If you dry your crumb in the oven pop tins of golden syrup and black treacle in at the same time to warm up and make them easier to pour. Maple syrup and golden syrup in plastic bottles are easier to pour.
This crumb makes a great topping for ice cream etc so if you decide to make more it will keep in an airtight jar or plastic box.
To make the pastry : in a food processor or by hand mix together the flour and salt and chilled butter and blitz in the machine or rub in room temperature butter by hand until the mix resembles bread crumbs. Incorporate then the egg yolk and water mix and bind the dough together by hand or allow the machine to form a ball. Wrap in a beeswax wrap or freezer bag and chill for at least half an hour.
Whilst the dough is resting prepare the filling. Blitz white bread (cut off the crusts) to a crumb and transfer to a large bowl. Pour the measured golden syrup, black treacle or maple syrup into the bowl and stir well. Add then the finely grated lemon zest plus the juice and the juice from the lemon used for the lemon crumb. Add the three eggs and mix well then set aside. The bread will absorb the liquids and thicken.
Roll out the pastry between two sheets of plastic (I use the liner from a cereal packet for this), rolling out this way means you don’t need to use extra flour, the dough doesn’t stick and is easy to handle.
Line the flan tin allowing the surplus pastry to hang over the edges. Chill for 15 minutes or until the oven reaches a temperature of 190 degrees c. Prick the bottom of the tin with a fork, line with baking paper and baking beans then bake blind for 13-15 minutes until the pastry is golden brown. Remove the paper and beans then return the pastry shell to the oven for another 3-5 minutes to dry the base.
Remove the pastry from the oven and immediately turn the temperature down to 160 degrees c.
Whilst the pastry shell is warm use a serrated knife to carefully trim the edges, leaving a neat finish. Pour the filling into the tart, level it with the back of a spoon, transfer to the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes until the centre feels firm and set.
Leave to cool then decorate with the crunchy lemon crumb.
I like to use the loose bottom from a smaller tin (6 inch for example), place that into the centre of the cooled tart and sprinkle the lemon crumb around the outside then lift off the loose bottom revealing a neat finished decoration.
Serve warm or cold – on its own, with a blob of cream or ice cream.

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