Treacle tart appears to be something of a misnomer until you realise that the word treacle refers to all forms of syrups made during sugar refining, from golden syrup through to black molasses. Although it is generally filed under "Nursery Puddings", the recipe is more of an exercise in frugality.
THE RECIPE Make the pastry in the usual way: rub 35g of butter and 35g of vegetable shortening into 150g of plain flour with your fingertips until it resembles rough breadcrumbs, then bring the mixture together with 2 tbsp of water to form a soft ball of dough. Use the pastry to line a deep-sided (4cm) 20cm tart tin with a removable base. Chill for 20 minutes. Set the oven at 200C/gas mark 6. Warm 675g of golden syrup into a saucepan. Stir in the finely grated zest and juice of a lemon and 270g of coarse white breadcrumbs, then pour into the uncooked pastry shell. Slide the tart into the oven and bake for 15 minutes. Turn the heat down to 180C/gas mark 4 and continue cooking for 15-20 minutes until lightly firm. Serves 8.
THE TRICK The right ratio of syrup to crumbs is essential. Not enough and the filling will be dry and chewy; too much and it won't set. Baking the tart on a hot baking sheet will ensure a crisp base to the pastry case. Adding lemon juice will balance the intense sweetness.
THE TWISTA teaspoon of puréed fresh ginger or a little ground ginger gives a fresh note. While a certain chewiness is desirable, a recent innovation has been to add cream or even eggs to the filling in order to give a softer result. The addition of something complementary such as clotted cream is often replaced by a spiced ice cream such as cinnamon. A lemon sorbet flatters the sweet tart very well.
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