The tart case is always tricky to make the first time, but practice will make perfect. Any leftover pastry dough can be frozen and reused
16 SEPTEMBER 2009
For the sweet pastry
250g plain flour, sifted, plus extra for dusting tin
175g butter, plus extra for greasing
75g icing sugar
2 egg yolks
1 tablespoon (15 ml) cold water
For the filling
150g old brown or white bread, crusts removed
650g golden syrup
50ml double cream
zest of 2 lemons
a good pinch of salt
In a bowl, rub the flour and butter together using your fingertips until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Mix in the icing sugar, egg yolks and cold water. Combine everything together to form a dough, but don’t overwork it at this stage. The pastry should be left in the fridge, wrapped in clingfilm, for a couple of hours to rest and firm up.
To bake the tart case you will need a baking tray lined with non-stick greaseproof paper and a flan ring or loose-bottomed tart tin, 23cm in diameter and 2cm deep. Paint the inside of your flan ring with a little melted butter and dust with flour.
Preheat the oven to 200ºC or 180ºC for a fan oven.
Once the pastry has rested it can be removed from the clingfilm and rolled out on a lightly floured surface until it’s about 4mm thick. Roll the pastry up on the rolling pin, then carefully unroll it over the flan ring. Push it down inside the ring, making sure the sides are covered too. Any overhanging pastry can be removed with a sharp knife.
Now rest the lined flan ring for a further 30 minutes in the fridge. When you remove the flan ring from the fridge, prick the base with a fork to stop it puffing up in the oven.
Crumple some greaseproof paper, then smooth it out flat. Use this to line the base and sides of the flan ring. Fill the centre with baking beans and bake for 30 minutes. If it is not completely cooked after this time, return it to the oven for another 5 minutes or so. Your tart case is now ready for action.
To make the filling, put the bread in a food processor and whiz it up until you have breadcrumbs, then put these to one side. Pour the golden syrup into a pan and add the butter. Heat them together until the syrup is a runny liquid and the butter has melted.
Meanwhile, whisk the egg and cream together until well combined and then pour in the syrup and butter mixture. Next stir in the breadcrumbs, lemon zest and salt, mixing everything together well.
Pour the filling into your cooked pastry case (still in its flan ring and sitting on the baking tray lined with paper).
The tart will take about 45 minutes to cook through – at which point it should be a rich golden brown. Give it a few more minutes if it is very soft or under-coloured. Allow it to stand for 15 minutes before serving.
Treacle tart should be served warm, never hot, and always with obscene amounts of clotted cream!
Economy Gastronomy by Paul Merrett and Allegra McEvedy, published by Penguin Books, £20