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.
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.
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.
(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.