Gourmandistan

“Trip’s over” treacle tarts with Tamasin Day-Lewis and tourist photos

Treacle tart

We very much enjoyed our month in Britain. Like all good vacations, this one has left us with fond memories and renewed energies to do more things while not on vacation, such as sculpting our woodland with pathways and plants, and cooking more out of our British cookbooks. We have already achieved one of these goals, and at this point believe we will (after 20-odd years) finally do the other, at least when springtime rolls back around.

We were somewhat sedentary. It was hard not to be, as we were in a very good location chock full of books.

But we did manage a few trips and snaps. We traveled through the West Midlands, the Cotswolds and Wales, enjoying (with one awful exception) excellent pub fare and our first “Full English” breakfasts.

We also, unsurprisingly, picked up a couple of cookbooks during our stay, as well as photographing recipes from a late 19th century “cookery” tome (which will hopefully lead to home-made Worcestershire sauce). One of the volumes we bought was Tamasin Day-Lewis’ Smart Tart, which provided Michelle with some sweet things to make in our vacation kitchen. (The kitchen was not as bad as some, but still not quite Gourmandistan-worthy.)

Steve first heard of treacle (also known as “golden syrup”) from the Dormouse at the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, a context-twisting tale of three little sisters living at the bottom of a “treacle well.” Much later he discovered that treacle is actually a kind of molasses, and then proceeded to ignore it as he does most (to him, at least) sickeningly sweet syrups. Michelle, however, is generally attracted to such things.

Treacle

Our first taste of treacle tart came from a lovely bakery in Ludlow, where Steve bought one on impulse (along with a much-less-enjoyable Eccles cake), and and we found it nicely orange-zesty and much less sweet than we’d anticipated. Looking through her new cookbooks Michelle saw a similar recipe with lemon zest. Steve was intrigued by the tart’s composition that included bread and grated apple along with its considerable amount of the sticky stuff.

Treacle tarts

When we returned home we tried some small tarts ourselves. It’s fascinating how the bread gives the tart a bland yet tasty body that, along with added citrus zest, cuts the treacly sweetness down to size—though we both agreed that even these small tarts were too big of a portion. Next time we’ll try dormouse-tiny treacle tarts. We’ll eat them while lying back and thinking of Britain.

TREACLE TARTS

  • Servings: makes six to eight 3-3/4″ tarts
  • Print

(adapted, only slightly, from Tamasin Day-Lewis’ Smart Tart)

  • six to eight 3-3/4″ tart shells, partially baked
  • 450 grams golden syrup
  • 3 TB double cream
  • 2 eggs
  • 2-1/2 TB butter, in small pieces
  • zest of 2 lemons
  • 1 c. soft breadcrumbs
  • 1 coarsely grated apple
  • handful of walnuts, roughly chopped

Heat the golden syrup over gentle heat in a saucepan.

Whisk together the cream and eggs. Add to the syrup, stirring over low heat. Add butter, stirring until melted. Add remaining ingredients and stir briefly.

Pour into partially baked tart crusts. Bake at 350° for approximately 30 minutes until browned and set. Best served warm.

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41 comments

  1. Yay!!! You’re back and I’m the FIRST one to comment!!! Whooo

    Love treacles tarts! We have a great English shop in Santa Monica where I buy them. (I’ll leave the baking to someone else in this case.) Love the moody shot of Steve on the rocks, too.

    Welcome back to the ‘Stan!

    • Thank you! This was the Instagram vacation. Every time I’d lug the big cameras out, it would start raining. So I just gave up and used the ancient iPhone. It was rather liberating. I’d never had treacle tart before—and it was better than I expected.

  2. Treacle tart seems to be the British equivalent of our pecan pie; a small sliver is just right. I recently saw a recipe that uses ground almonds instead of the bread. Your tarts look great. I don’t like super-sweet desserts, but I’ve always wanted to try authentic treacle tart—I should try out this recipe some time.

    • Great minds, Sacha! As I was eating these I kept thinking of pecan pie. I believe the one we bought at the bakery used almonds and it was good. This is worth a try. But if I do them again, I’m going to make them tiny. I do recommend the cookbook. She’s quite a good writer and everything I’ve made from it has been really good—though some things have too much butter even for me (which I previously thought wasn’t possible).

    • Thanks, Mimi. Being childless and both self-employed, we have been lucky enough the last decade or so to be able to go to Europe (usually France) for a month each fall. As so many of our friends currently have kids at very expensive colleges, we joke that it seems much less extravagant than it did in the beginning!

  3. Janet Rörschåch

    Fabulous! Day-Lewis is a treat. Well worth plopping the quid down for any of her writings. for a second I thought you were stayong with her. Welcome back. Hope you settle right back in after your month in a corner of heaven.

  4. I agree that eccles cakes are over-rated, but not treacle tarts. And yes treacle is usually molasses like but golden syrup is traditionally used in treacle tart – not at all logical! Where were you staying with such an amazing collection of books?

  5. Welcome home! Sounds like you had a wonderful month. Good for you both! I actually have a jar of Golden Syrup that I bought at an import shop. The only thing I know to make with it is fudge. Now, I can make tarts. Thanks for sharing the recipe. Feel free to share a few more. It’s a big jar. 🙂

    • Thanks, John! I remember ages ago having a can in the pantry for YEARS and never finding anything to do with it! Luckily these tarts used precisely the amount of the small can I brought back.

  6. A wonderful collection of momento’s and stories from your travels. That’s a big yes to cookbooks from me and I especially love that vintage tin of golden syrup, lol I happen to have one myself too! There’s no doubt that travel is great for the soul and food! I love a good tart, treacle tarts are comfort food with those lovely syrupy flavours and sweet short crust!

  7. valerie

    Sounds like a wonderful vacation (‘holiday’?), and if there is one dessert (‘pudding’?) to take home from Britain, it is treacle tart (not even necessarily too too sweet, as I discovered in a good pub last week…). Cheers to an inspired return, a month away is just as good as moving.

    • Being able to go away for a long time every autumn is what keeps us going through the rest of the year. And this trip was particularly nice—so fun to jump into someone else’s beautiful home and settle right in. We loved England and Wales (though France is calling again for next year, if we remain so lucky). Looking forward to following your adventures in London! And, watch out: I may hit you up for tips on Brittany, which is where we’re thinking about for next fall.

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