My mum would occasionally buy a treacle tart as a treat – principally for my dad as a reward for doing hard graft in the garden. Dad loved treacle tart and I felt I should too, but they never seemed to live up to expectations. I found them to be always blandly sweet and gooey in a not-good way. But a homemade treacle tart is a different thing altogether. Lacing it with the tartness of citrus peel, juice and zest takes it beyond the realms of sticky and stodgy, to something worth many hours of digging and weeding. Penny provided the recipe for the pastry. I’m afraid, if it were up to me, I’d probably just buy a ready-made pastry case. Don’t tell her, though.
FOR THE PASTRY
200g (7oz) plain flour, plus extra for dusting
125g (4½oz) butter
zest of ½ unwaxed orange
about 2 tablespoons cold water
FOR THE FILLING
125g (4½oz) mixed candied peel
2 tablespoons lemon juice
260g(9½oz) golden syrup
zest and juice of 1 large unwaxed orange
175g (6oz) fresh brown or white breadcrumbs (or half of each)
Put the flour, butter, zest and a pinch of salt into a food processor and mix until it makes fine crumbs. Add just enough cold water to mix to a firm dough, wrap it in clingfilm and chill for 30 minutes. Soak the mixed peel in the lemon juice for 10–20 minutes.
Roll out the pastry on a floured work surface to a thickness of about 3mm (¹⁄8in). Thin is good, as it makes the finished tart less heavy. If your pastry tears, just roll it back up into a ball and re-chill until firm before trying again. Line a loose-bottomed 20-cm (8-in) tart tin with the pastry and put it in the fridge. Any leftover pastry can be wrapped up well and frozen. Preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F), Gas Mark 6.
Heat the golden syrup, orange zest and juice in a saucepan until very runny, then stir in the breadcrumbs. Spread the soaked mixed peel over the pastry base, pour the warm breadcrumb mixture over the top and spread it out evenly. Bake for 10 minutes, then reduce the oven temperature to 180°C (350°F), Gas Mark 4, and bake for a further 25–30 minutes until the pastry is a light golden brown and the filling is set. Serve warm.
This freezes beautifully, just defrost and reheat before serving. Set the oven to 160°C (325°F), Gas Mark 3, cover loosely with foil and reheat for 20–25 minutes or until warmed through.
This recipe is from Home Cooked by Kate Humble.