I have never made Treacle Tart before; it is something that I adore and that makes you feel all comfortable and homey. I know of people who use cornflakes instead of breadcrumbs in the filling too for a bit of extra crunch! I based my traditional recipe on a Mary Berry one (but didn’t bother with the pastry lattice top – too much pastry in my opinion) and I must admit that this one is rather lemony in flavour – James really enjoyed this aspect of it as he doesn’t like it too sweet, but I thought it could have done with being toned down a little. Felicity Cloake who writes ‘How to make the perfect…’ series for The Guardian has a good article about making the perfect treacle tart. You can read it here to see what she has to say. She also agrees with me on the lemon front, that it is necessary, but suggests that the zest confuses the pudding a little and is stronger in flavour than you think. So in retrospect, I would probably omit the zest from the below recipe and only use the juice of one lemon, but I have left them on the ingredients list for you so you can make your own decision!
150g/9oz plain flour
130g/4½oz butter, plus extra for greasing
450g/16oz golden syrup
200g/7oz fine, white breadcrumbs
2 lemons, zest and juice
1 free-range egg, beaten, to use as egg wash
Clotted cream, to serve
First make the short crust pastry: measure the flour into a large bowl and rub in the butter with your fingertips until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs (alternatively, this can be done in a food processor). Add about three tablespoons of cold water and mix to a firm dough, wrap in cling film and chill in the fridge for about 20 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas 6 and put a heavy baking tray in the oven to heat up. Grease a deep 23cm/9in loose-bottomed fluted flan tin with butter.
Roll the pastry out thinly on a lightly floured work surface and line the prepared flan tin with the pastry, ensuring you keep about an inch of pastry above the sides as it will shrink during baking.
Prick the base with a fork, to stop the base rising up during baking.
To make the filling, heat the syrup gently in a large pan but do not boil.
Once melted, add the breadcrumbs, lemon juice and zest to the syrup. If the mixture looks runny, add a few more breadcrumbs. Make sure you taste it at this point to check its tasting as you want it and just add more syrup or lemon accordingly.
Pour the syrup mixture into the lined tin and level the surface.
Egg wash the edge of the pastry in the tin.
Bake on the pre-heated baking tray in the hot oven for about 10 minutes until the pastry has started to colour, and then reduce the oven temperature to 180C/350F/Gas 4. Bake for a further 25-30 minutes until the pastry is golden-brown and the filling set.
Remove the tart from the oven and leave to firm up in the tin. Serve warm with clotted cream.